saved by the bell

August 21, 2014

girl with hand raised in school

Summer is fantastic. And long. And slightly frustrating. And did we say fantastic? Truth is, most of us operate better with a little routine, especially once you have kids. And that's what back-to-school time is all about. That yellow bus means we rise and shine about the same time each day, breakfast, everyone knows what they need to wear (that doesn't mean it's always clean), where they need to be and when.

There are lunches to pack, slips to sign and every Thursday your kids should leave wearing tennis shoes for gym day.

Our routines are all different, but we all have them. And studies show that as much as we may complain about them, we thrive in their presence.

"Routines remove the need to deliberate over what you should do when (which take time and energy), because once you've established a routine, you've already made those decisions.

Routines can become so automatic that we start performing them without realizing it, so we get done what needs to get done, even when our minds are preoccupied with other things."

Dr. Heidi Grant Halverson
Social scientist and author of 'Succeed'

little girl brushing teeth

And no surprise that research shows children operate better on routine. According to Dr. Laura Markham, clinical psychologist turned parenting coach and author, there are six benefits that come with using routines with your kids:

  1. Routines eliminate power struggles.
  2. They help kids cooperate.
  3. They help kids learn to take charge of their own activities.
  4. Kids learn the concept of looking forward to things they enjoy.
  5. Regular routines help kids get on a sleep schedule.
  6. And routines help parents build in those precious connection moments.

Check here if you want to read more about Dr. Markham's opinions and research on structure, parenting and more.

wallking the dog

Funny thing is, when we look through that list of how routines can help our kids, we realize the same things can help us. Isn't it easier to fall asleep at night when we go to bed at the same time? And aren't we happier, more cooperative people when we're well rested? It's easier to exercise, walk the dog or pack lunches if we're conditioned to do it every day at the same time in the morning.

So will we miss longer, lazier summer days and the ability to be spontaneous? Yes. But with the alarm clock, homework and more regular dinner time comes the comfort of routine. And the comfort in knowing that we all go off to do our own thing only to come back together at the end of each day. Something to look forward to.

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