8:30am – wake up and wash up
9:00am – breakfast
9:30 – pre-school
6:00 – free play
7:00pm – dinner
8:00pm – free play
9:00pm – practise piano
9:30pm – milk and brush teeth
10:00pm – story time
10:30pm – lights out
The above is the daily school day routine for YH, 6 years old and also for his sis, XX in Primary 2 from dinner time onwards.
Why are routines so important?
Children need to be living predictable structured lives. They will encounter fear if they do not know what is happening next. Implementing routines in the daily lives of little ones enable them to expect what is to come next. They feel secured, knowing what will happen at certain times of the day/night. They can look forward to a certain activity. They can be independent, knowing what to do after dinner, and carry out activities on their own.
Research has shown that families with good family routines have healthier, happy and better behaving children. In fact, they tend to do better in school. Good routines, may sometimes come with some flexibility. For instance, a special night out to visit grandma or a newborn nephew may disrupt the entire evening routine, yet, is seen to be a welcome disruption.
If you have watched the Super Nanny series on television (click on the link for good parenting advice), you would have noticed that one of her favourite ways to “rescue” families with misbehaving kids is to implement routines.
Family routines in our house
1. Mealtime is a family time
We aim to eat together for dinner daily. This is relatively achievable since our children are young and always by our side. At times, daddy is not able to join us due to work commitment, but we’ll definitely eat together on the weekends for most meals. Kel and I place importance in family mealtimes and hope to continue this even when our children get married and hopefully they come home for dinner with us every weekend.
2. Bedtime story-telling
My kids are young and they enjoy the nightly bedtime story-telling. One day, they are going to grow up into teens and may find bedtime story-telling childish. I am trying to prolong this as much as possible. I love reading to them. As long as they still want to hear me enact the stories in the books, I will do so happily. My hope is that they will take this enjoyment with them as fond memories when they grow up and do the same for their children.
3. Groceries shopping
I love groceries shopping. On most weekend evenings, we push the baby’s stroller with the baby inside, with his elder siblings running along or scooting along to the neighbourhood supermarket. I love to see the kids talking and laughing and running up grass slopes along the way. I love to see the baby with arms out-stretched and laughing along. When we reach the supermarket, the kids enjoy weighing the greens and putting milk cartons into the trolley. After Kel’s wonderful skills of packing a full load into the “car” (you guess it right! It’s the good old stroller), I carry the baby in the Baby Bjorn carrier and we walk back home. These happy moments will definitely go to the fond memory bank too, that is, when our kids grow up.
4. Weekend family outings
My kids have only one enrichment class to go for the entire week, i.e Yamaha Junior Course on every Saturday morning. We find one enrichment class a perfect commitment that is manageable for them and for us, parents. Because we no need to ferry them from one class to the other (at least for now), we are able to schedule swimming, outdoor playgrounds, visit to the museums and enjoy a day with wonderful family bonding time. When our kids grow up, such outings may get lesser but till then, we shall enjoy while it lasts.
5. Weekly dinner at Grandpa’s
This weekly dinner at my in-laws place started way way back to the times kel and I were in courtship. Now that we have 3 kids, we still make an effort to free up Sunday nights to go to their house for dinner. They always cook sumptuous dishes no matter how tired they may be. Such family gatherings are important to us and important for our kids to bond with their grandparents. Again, we hope that they will continue this tradition when Kel and I grow old.
Do you have family routines too?