Sometimes it feels like we live on treadmills, running from one appointment to the next, multi-tasking all day long. We barely have time to sit down for a nutritious breakfast, much less plan what the family will have for dinner. It can be overwhelming for parents. And, it can exact a heavy toll on families. In fact, study after study has demonstrated that children crave structure and predictability, particularly when they are young.
How can parents provide that kind of structure when they have neither the time nor the energy to think a few days ahead? The best and surest way to a more harmonious day is to incorporate some routines into your daily schedule. Indeed, the American Psychological Association recently completed a 50-year review of family rituals and routines. The review found that family routines and rituals are "powerful organizers of family life that offer stability during times of stress and transition." The study also found that routines and rituals are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents' sense of personal identity, children's health, academic achievement, and stronger family relationships.
By routines, we do not necessarily mean hard and fast edicts that, for example, divide your day into fifteen minute intervals: 6:30 for bath, 6:45 for dinner; 7:00 story time, etc. A routine does not need to be rigid to be effective. Likewise, a routine need not be elaborate. It simply needs to be consistent, well thought-out, and meaningful. Here are some things to consider in developing your family's routines:
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