Routine. The word brings to mind words like normal, standard, run-of-the-mill… Maybe even boring. But when it comes to kids, routine is actually fantastic! Having a set routine can help your family function better, feel better, and even spend more quality time together. So, ready to learn why routine is good for kids? Strap in, and let’s go!
What a Routine Is (And What It’s Not)
Having a routine doesn’t necessarily mean doing the exact same thing every day. Just because you eat off the same plates for every meal doesn’t mean you’re eating the same food. Consider your family’s routine sort of like a place setting. You can serve up different activities every day, but the overall structure—when to wake up, when to eat, when to play, when to get ready for bed—that stays the same.
Waking up and going to sleep at the same approximate time every day not only anchors a body’s circadian rhythm but can also improve the quality of that sleep. Better quality sleep means more energy and just feeling better in general. That’s important for everyone, whether you’re going to work or school.
The Benefits of Routines for Kids
There are too many benefits to name, but these are just a few reasons to get your kids into a routine:
We mentioned this above, but really think about it: How would better sleep affect your family? Do any of these sound good to you? (Spoiler alert: We know they do!)
- Going to sleep more easily. For your kids, that means fewer rounds of “one more story” or “one more glass of water.” For you, that means no more scrolling on your phone until the wee hours!
- Better mood. Who wouldn’t want their own personal rays of sunshine to be less grouchy in the morning?
- Better cognitive function. Better and more sleep literally helps our brains work better. It can affect everything from reaction time while driving, to the ability to focus on tasks, to short-term memory for your kids’ pop quizzes or your weekly staff meeting.
- Less dependence on substances. This one’s all for you, grownups. If you feel like you can’t function without your morning coffee, or you can’t go to sleep without a nightcap, try adjusting your own bedtime and wakeup routines to ensure that you’re getting enough high-quality sleep. You may be surprised how much better you feel!
Here’s another major reason to get your kids on a routine: Because it makes them feel safe and secure. When people feel safe, they can be more confident, competent, and present. This is especially important for younger kids, who are still learning that even though Mom or Dad leaves in the morning, they will come back in the evening. According to Jean M. Thomas, M.D.,
The more secure toddlers feel, the more they can focus on things like learning, exploring, and playing.
Establishing Good Habits
But routines aren’t just for little kids. Even teens and adults can benefit from a regular daily structure. If you’ve always wanted to be the person who has a “gym habit” or reads multiple books each month, sticking to a routine that prioritizes those things is how you’ll do it.
Having a routine can also help you set realistic goals and stick to them. And for teens, a routine can be a helpful way to break the cycle of marathon social media-scrolling sessions on the couch, which are now widely accepted as being bad for mental health.
When making a routine for your family, remember to budget time for fun! Whether it’s roller skating at Rainbow Skateland or having a movie night in the den, quality time together is what it’s all about.