Wednesday, July 13, 2011

reasons for routine...

i often waver between the need for routine and the need for... not routine?

between structured days and unstructured days... for leo and for me....

and have realized that it just takes balance.  a little bit of both.

but, lately, my need for routine has become more in favor.  and here are some reasons why...

toddlers just can't tell time...
this has become my most important reason for routine.  we, as adults, have the luxury of looking at the clock and knowing, "it's time for nap,"  "it's time for lunch," "we have an appointment in half an hour, so we need to clean up now to get there on time..."  but our kiddos don't have that luxury.  what they are doing RIGHT NOW is all that matters.  each event in their day sort of runs their clocks.  so, for them, a routine is their time table.  if we do the same routine for naptime, there's no surprise when it's time to lay down.  on the other hand, if leo's in the middle of playing, i look at the clock, and it's 12:30... time for nap... and i just announce "okay it's nap time"... i don't think anyone would handle that too well.  so, by creating a routine for the different elements of our day, things go much more smoothly.  once lunch hits the table, the rest of the steps just follow with ease.

it takes away the guilt...
i have issues with guilt.  it's true.  with everything.  i almost always feel guilty about something.  i know, i need to get over it.  but it is what it is.  how does that have anything to do with routines?  well... if i create a routine for our day... some sort of schedule... then i know there's a time for each thing i should be doing.  if i know that after breakfast everyday, leo and i spend some time together reading books, then i don't have that gnawing feeling of "do i read enough to him?!?!"  if i know that each day, for an hour, i set aside for some housework, all the other hours of the day i'm not staring at the dishes, thinking "i should really get to those dishes..."

it gives me a sense of accomplishment...
for the same reasons as the guilt, if i know that each day, there is time set aside for housework... a new activity with leo... some reading... some crafting... whatever it might be... at the end of the day i can look back at what i've done and feel a sense of accomplishment.  rather than feeling scattered, and seeing all the things that haven't been done, i know that there is a good deal that has.

it brings comfort...
not knowing what comes next can be stressful.  for anyone.  this sort of relates to the time reason above.  if leo knows what to expect, what's coming next, it brings a sense of comfort.  at night, when leo's asleep, just about every night, my husband and i sit on the couch, veg out for a little bit, and, most importantly, have a dessert.  and i really look forward to that time.  if it doesn't happen, sure, i get over it, but there's a little sense of disappointment... and even more anticipation for the next night.  i can imagine that leo takes comfort, too, in knowing what is going to happen, and when it's going to happen.

don't get me wrong... it's impossible to create routine and structure for every element of life.  and probably not healthy, even, to do so.  i love the days that we just pick up and go somewhere.  make new discoveries.  and there are days that we just can't follow our routine... doctor's appointments, visitors... whatever it might be.  and those are the instances that we all must be flexible... in our day, in our emotions, and in our time table.

but i have to say... once we settle back in... and get into our family groove... it feels nice.  really nice.

6 comments:

Deborah said...

I really like this post. Routine is a valuable part of helping preschoolers make sense of time and it takes some of their stress away. Great read!

merry said...

i like your reasons about routines and some additions to that, it gives children understand that not everything is done whenever they like..we're teaching discipline in a small and simple way...LOVE IT!!! :D

Kathy said...

The first reason I especially loved - it's one of those "well,duh - why didn't that occur to me before!" things. As adults we've known how to tell time for so long that it just doesn't occur to us that little guys can't, and the impact that might have. Brilliant! I also LOVE your tender heart toward your son and sense of wonder about him that really comes through in your writing. Thanks for sharing!
Kathy

a happy wanderer said...

@ deborah... thank you! no one needs a stressed toddler, right? :)

a happy wanderer said...

@ merry... thanks for stopping by! related to your comment, my son used to ask for treats that he might see around the house throughout the day... we decided he'd have a cookie with lunch, and now, no more uncertainty about it for him! he knows he'll have a treat at one point in the day, which is comforting for him, and for me as well... i don't have to say no all day long :)

Liz said...

Hi Heather!

I recalled that I had seen this post on your blog the other day as I am in the middle of trying to establish some more predictable rhythms for our days as well. I love being spontaneous but as you say, rhythm and routine offer a sense of comfort for sure. I like the idea of flexible structure. And your idea about the treat at lunch is awesome! I really need to try it out because ever since storing the Halloween lollipops in the pantry, Rylie refers to it as the treat closet! Oh brother . . . :)

We miss you guys and would love to catch up soon!
Liz