Parenting Tip 14: The Truth About Routines & StructureBy
Summary: Why wouldn’t you want to make life as struggle free as possible?
While there will certainly be struggles, why not establish a structure and routine that makes life easier? It can be done!
This is best achieved through creating a world where chores and responsibilities are completed without the need for constant decision making, without the need for nagging or prodding, and without the need for continued monitoring.
Thought-Full Routines: How to make
life a struggle!
First, lets talk about how not to do it.
Here’s how you can make life difficult and create a constant struggle. This approach generally requires that you also get to “have” incessant nagging, prodding, negotiating, pushing…and sometimes even a bit of yelling, screaming, and threatening of consequences.
Make day-to-day routines flexible…make decisions based upon moment-to-moment fluctuations…and day-to-day routines will be a struggle!
That’s the rule! You can fight it. You can argue with it. You can disagree with it. But that’s the rule!
You make these daily routines flexible and changeable, and then you’ll always have a struggle as things go on.
Can I really say “always”? Well perhaps there are a few exceptions, but I rarely see them.
Why is this the case?
1. Children thrive with structure.
Children thrive in an environment where there’s predictability. Behaviorally, academically, and emotionally, children thrive when there are consistent, clear routines that remain relatively unchanging.
2. Children thrive on predictability.
There is comfort and security in knowing when things will happen. While children involved in chaotic and out of control family systems often rebel at the initial signs of structure and routine, they quickly adjust and their behavior calms.
With this, adjustment also comes an emotional calming. Children will often report a sense that life is easier after experiencing a consistent structure and routine.
3. Consistent routines remove decision-making.
This is the true source of the magic. Daily decision-making on all routine stuff is removed, and thus there is no wasted energy. The energy is reserved for what’s really important!
How many of us actually have to make a decision to brush our teeth in the morning. Very few, I hope! And as such it presents no emotional stress or challenge. It’s not really a chore!
For those of you who buckle your seatbelts on a daily basis, it becomes routine and there is no stress to this.
In the early stages of an exercise program, the daily commitment often involves a decision and, at times, a struggle to make the decision. If you have exercised regularly for years however, there is no decision to be made. It is a given that you will exercise. It gets easier…when there is no decision to be made.
In essence, these events have been “pre-decided.” A level of automaticity then evolves that eliminates the stress of making a decision. The result: reduced anxiety, and reduced stress and greater harmony.
By “Thought-LESS” routines, I am referring to a way of parenting that does not involve constant thinking and evaluating about what kids need to do next.
By “Thought-LESS”, I mean that both children and parents fall into a structure and pattern that allows for the basic responsibilities to be addressed without a lot of struggle. Instead, these occur effortlessly.
By “Thought-LESS” routines, I mean that that you nurture “habits” that eliminate the need to constantly figure out what’s next. It’s been pre-decided.
What happens when you establish a home with “thought-LESS” routines: Lots of time is available to discuss things that are of real importance to the family. Little time is put into managing homework behavior, and instead discussion actually occurs about what is being learned.
Little time is spent getting the children to the table to eat, and instead meaningful discussion occurs about life events. Little time is spent arguing over homework or bedtime routines, and greater opportunity is available for simply spending quality time with children.
Do you have a sense how this works?
When routines become consistent and predictable, there is relatively little discussion and dialogue that goes into the completion of these fundamental responsibilities that we all have to take care of. If children learn to do this, their minds are freed from the struggle with what’s important to do in life. They don’t end up wasting their life doing battle with the fact that they have to do homework, even though they may not like to do it. They simply get it done.
This is a formula for success. This is a formula for making life easy. This is a formula for staying healthy, emotionally strong, and focused on what’s really important. Make this the way you do things at home, and watch how much easier day-to-day life becomes.