The Value of Family Routines
One of the most valuable things you can do is to provide your children with a stable, nurturing environment. Children like security, and one of the ways they feel secure is to have things they can count on. It's not surprising that they like to read the same book over and over again and have the same bedtime routine. You can, as parents, give them many things they can count on.
Having a morning routine can make the difference between total chaos and a smooth start to the day. Everyone in the family will benefit when the first hour of their day is calm. The day should start with an established wake-up time that gives everyone enough time to get everything done without rushing. An example of a morning routine is as follows:
Don't leave everything for the morning if you are on an extremely tight schedule. Make lunches and lay out coats the night before. That will make the morning less hectic.
- Rise and shine
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
- Collect things needed for the day, such as lunch, homework, or jacket
- Off to school
Dinner is usually the one meal of the day when there is a chance for everyone to be together. Nowadays, people often rush through dinner or eat separately. That is a shame. Sitting down to a family meal can be a wonderful time in the day. It can give you the chance to hear about everyone's day and reinforce the family unit. Even if you realistically can't all have a sit-down dinner together every night, try to establish several nights a week that are meant for family dinners. Even if you are eating take-out food, set the table properly with plates, utensils, glasses, and napkins.
Don't just gobble the food down in front of the TV set. Turn it off! Dinnertime can be valuable family time that your kids will remember long after they've established families of their own.
If you teach your children to go to bed easily by establishing a routine, then you will have more quiet time for the two of you.
One of the most important routines for a child is the one at bedtime. Children who have a set of things to do every night before they go to bed will be calmer and able to fall asleep more easily. Bedtime should be the same every night, and the routine should start 30 to 45 minutes before “lights out.” A suggestion for a bedtime routine for younger children is as follows:
- Take a shower or bath
- Put on pajamas
- Brush teeth
- Read a bedtime story
- Talk about the day
- Bedtime with hugs and kisses
As your children get older, they will establish their own routine. But it's still important to give them a regular bedtime and make sure they stick to it.
One fun routine is to have a special weekly meal. As a family, you might make pancakes every Sunday for breakfast. Each child could be given a task: help measure the flour, crack the eggs, or stir the batter. You could try different recipes and even create your own family pancake recipe. Or you could make Wednesday night “macaroni and cheese night.” By having an enjoyable routine on Sunday mornings or another time in the week, you will be creating wonderful memories for your children, as well as providing them with something to count on.
The Spice Rack
On mommy's or daddy's birthday, celebrate first with your family and then with just the two of you. Create your own tradition and do something special each year.
Birthdays are fun for everyone in the family. Here are some ideas to make birthdays special in your house:
- Have a traditional family birthday cake.
- Create and sing a family birthday song.
- Tell family stories on birthdays.
- Look at birthday photos from the year before.
- Make breakfast in bed for the birthday person.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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