The importance of routines within the early years of children’s lives cannot be emphasised enough. Not only does the predictability of routine reduce anxiety, but it also empowers children to be decision-makers within their daily experiences. Read more below to find out the ways routines can transform your family dynamic, as well as benefit your child’s development.
What are the Benefits of Routine in Early Childhood?
The uncertainty and instability that a lack of routine can provide naturally is stressful for all of us, and therefore young children, too. Think of it like this… you wake up in the morning at a different time each day, sometimes you have time for a coffee, other days you are in a rush out of the door. You didn’t organise your lunch last night like you often do, so you must stop on the way to work to pick something up meaning you are later in than usual… think about the knock-on effect this has not only on your day, but most importantly on your mood for the rest of the morning. Children are no different… they can feel just as stressed, rushed, and uncertain when their routine is not consistent or predictable. So, what are the benefits of routines in early childhood…
Routine helps to set healthy habits
Make a plan as a family focusing on the habits you would like to create (and stick to) that will benefit all. For some, this may be a visual routine displayed on the fridge, for others a simple conversation where everyone agrees to their responsibilities… some of you may want to start this as an individual. If you know that you having an extra 5 minutes in the morning to scroll through the latest news feed, or 15 minutes before you go to sleep to read a chapter of your book are important to you, then embed these into your routine. Remember… taking care of your self-help is not selfish, it is important so that you can manage the demands of the rest of your routine.
Routine can build stronger relationships between family members
Structuring your routine around baby’s nap time or homework time for older siblings will ensure that quality time can be spent together as a family. Life and its routine will often pull you in all different directions so, as simple as it may sound, setting a time for dinner each day where all family members can come together, really can benefit the quality of your relationships. But no routine and no expectation can lead to the opposite, with the marrying of everyone’s schedules becoming near on impossible in the moment.
Routine instills a sense of safety
As discussed above, the anxiety and apprehension a lack of routine brings about is felt by all. So, imagine the security and sense of belonging that a consistent and predictable routine can instill. It cannot be underestimated just how beneficial routine is to young children’s development. They feel more confident, aren’t distracted by the worry of what’s coming next, and feel freer to explore the world around them knowing what to anticipate in the rest of their day.
Benefits of Routine for Parents
As we’ve discussed, routine is not only important for your child, but for your wellbeing, too. After all, you can’t juggle everything that parenting young children demands if you yourself do not feel secure and empowered within your daily life. Let’s consider some of the benefits that routine can have for you as well…
Increases family efficiency
When you know what to expect within your daily routine, not only does it make life feel more manageable, but it also means that you are more adaptable to those unpredictable curveballs that life likes to throw your way. A nappy explosion on the way out the door seems far less catastrophic when the rest of your morning has unfolded in a way that feels predictable and without hiccups. Set yourself (and your family) up to succeed… so when life’s little dramas do occur they are exactly that, a little drama rather than another thing to add on top of the pile of stress you are already struggling to manage.
Reduces daily stress
A life without stress… it seems pretty impossible when young children are involved right?! Even if you do manage to get out the door without drama, the stress of expectation & worry that being a parent is at large is still always apparent in some shape or form. That’s why embedding ‘you’ moments of relaxation and self-care into your daily routine are essential to combatting the burden of stress. And the easiest thing is that there’s no right or wrong way to do this… maybe some mindfulness podcasts and yogi stretches are a bit of you, but for some simply sipping on cup of tea uninterrupted before the day begins is the blissful moment you need. The key is, commit to it and prioritise as much as you do packing the lunch boxes, or showering… your wellbeing is essential and it should be added to the list of must-dos along with everything else.
Reassures you as a parent
Forgetting your child’s bag for day care, or to pack that extra layer of clothing in case it gets cooler, can make you feel like a failure. In the grand scheme of things, these small moments do not define you as a parent, but in the moment… you can feel like nothing you do is good enough. Well routine is the key to combatting these moments… planning and preparation are key components of any good routine and are there as your safety net to catching these shortcomings before they occur. As a result, you are left feeling reassured that you and your parenting are enough!
How does The Green Elephant embed Daily Routines into the day?
Routines that are embedded into the day-to-day learning environments are essential components of any good quality childcare service. As well as being consistent, it is important in early childhood education that routines are also adaptable to suit the needs of individual children and their families.
Routines for the nursery
At this young age, most children are still on their individual routines, often napping twice a day or more, and having their own typical time of falling to sleep. Meal and sleep times are adaptable within the room, supporting children at getting the rest & nourishment they need. Learning experiences are offered throughout the day to ensure that children’s rest and food times do not disrupt their access to learning.
Routines for the toddlers
Children at this stage thrive on a more guided routine. Be mindful though, this isn’t because toddlers need to be told what to do. In fact, giving them freedom to choose empowers them and can heighten their ability to regulate their emotions. The structure in routine is needed so children aren’t overwhelmed by choice. ‘It’s time for lunch now, would you like your food served in a bowl or a plate?’ gives children the understanding of what is expected, whilst still providing them the power to have choice.
Routines for pre-school aged children
As children get older, they still require the expectation and comfort that routine brings. However, as children grow older, they should be empowered with more control over the ‘what’ of their daily routines. That’s why at The Green Elephant, we believe in children having lots of opportunity for free play and the chance to take the lead in their self-help skills. Contributing to the preparation of their morning snack, resourcing the materials needed for their creative work, and being able to transition freely from one activity to another.
Where is The Green Elephant…
Building partnerships with daycare providers is a great way of getting ongoing advice and support, as above. Why not come along and meet one of our team on a tour of our Beaconsfield, Horsley Park, Rosebery or Waterloo services. We will chat to you about your child’s needs, what you can expect from the enrolment and orientation process, as well as give you some advice in tackling those nerves you will undoubtedly be feeling.
We look forward to welcoming you to The Green Elephant family.