Establishing Daily Routines

A routine is a sequence of events that makes the family hum! It is not living by a clock, though the clock is a tool that can keep us on track. A routine is habit of doing something in a particular order.

We have many such patterns in our family

  • We have a pattern for our study days, different from our weekends, different from our holiday weeks
  • We have a core routine (flow of activity) that we fall into even on the most disruptive days
  • Our children know what they have to do when they wake up – bedroom, desk, breakfast, devotions, teeth, chores. Each of our children does these things in a different order depending on their age and preferences but they need it all before 8.00am
  • Another pattern starts at 5.00pm when we all stop our various activities and start preparing for the evening. Chores, baths, dinner, read aloud, chores/teeth, etc…
  • We have a cleaning or chore chart, that rotates, forming a pattern in our life
  • When we head out the door we all function automatically – we each pack a bag (books/activities), hat, shoes, and water bottle. When we go to church we add our Bible and Jess grabs a packet of biscuits
  • When we are expecting visitors we fall into yet another habit pattern

I list these patterns/habits/routines to help you see that establishing routines in our home is more than allocating activities to a certain time. Routines are sequence of actions that become so familiar to us that we do them automatically.

Why have Routines?

This list are the things that I have seen benefit our family during the times that we are disciplined in our routines.
  • I have a feeling of being in control – I can train rather than correct – be proactive not reactive with my children
  • We have limited confrontations (because the children’s choices are limited and therefore more appropriate to their moral development)
  • More time for what I want to do (be that for the children, for the family or myself) as we spend less time cleaning up messes
  • The children are secure and not challenging me all the time
  • Gives me a little free time!
  • My children become more creative in their play, less reliant on amusements and entertainments

Yes, living with routines does take discipline. I personally rather do what I want to do when I want to do it. I’m not sure if that is the artistic nature or just the simple sin nature – man wanting to do what he wants to do! But I have learnt for me to achieve the things that I want to do (both in my own private life as well as in the life of my family) I have to be proactive, intentional and disciplined.

You need to know what you want to achieve before you start down this path. You cannot just copy another family’s list – it will become a burden, a have-to-do-this law, rather than the life giving tool it can be.

What to Consider?

My original study in this area was around the passage in the Bible that talks about Jesus growing up as a boy. The Bible says he grew in
  • Wisdom
  • Stature
  • Favour with God
  • Favour with man
  • Knowledge

In our modern day this would be interpreted as growing in

  • Character
  • Physical health and strength
  • Spiritual and emotional health
  • Social development
  • Intellectual areas

So when I look at establishing routines in our home, I consider each of my children, in each of these areas. What do we need to accomplish? What do we need to train? The activities that will assist us in reaching our goals are the activities that I want routine to develop around. For this to happen they need to be practiced daily. This is how a habit is formed.

Creating New Habits

If this is a new concept to you, or you feel things are out of control in your home I recommend that you start with small steps. Assess your situation fully; list the things you are not happy with and list the things you would like to see implemented in your home. Then choose the most important aspect and work on that.

How do you choose the most important aspect?
This is my priority list that may help you.

  • Consider your children’s heart towards you, towards God, towards each other. Are there habits such as personal quiet times, family devotions, character training that you recognize would benefit your family?
  • Consider your household responsibilities. Are there areas of time, money, work and caring for possessions where you can train your children? Or work more efficiently yourself?
  • Consider the unique needs of each of your children; gifts, talents, weaknesses, strengths. Each of these areas need to be considered when we look at establishing family life
  • Consider the academic needs of your children. Yes, this is last on the list for a reason. Relational and moral issues must be established in our children’s lives before they will learn with any success.

Routines are generally considered in terms of a timetable keeping us moving through the day. When we move away from allocating times in order to establish habits we keep our eyes on the training issues, on the heart issues rather than living by the clock. And yet, we need to be responsible with each 24 hours that God gives. When we start to combine all the mini-routines we establish, the habits of actions, we will start to see our days filled with the activities that are on our heart for our family. We must be goal oriented rather than time focused.

If you don’t know where to start with establishing both mini-routines and wise use of your time I recommended this outline to help you establish habits in your home. Each home will need to look different because of the different people dynamics, the different ages and needs of children. Refer back to your thoughts on the most important aspect needed in your family life right now (scroll up a little) and find a regular time slot where you can address this training.

Block 1waking up, early morning responsibilities (this may be as simple as getting dressed
MealBreakfast / Chores
Block 2Activities that help with training the most important thing
MealLunch – Chores
Block 3
Pre-Dinnertidy up, baths, quiet time etc
MealDinner - Chores
family time / bed time etc

Without a doubt there is a lot more that you can fit into your day but this is the bare bones that can help you focus on the important things in your family life – Relationships and Responsibilities. You may have times, in between the above activities, where you flounder or resort to some of the things on your “not happy with” list. That is okay – little steps, one habit at a time. . Once you have one new habit established in your family, consider the next important aspect. If we take on too much at any one time we end up being overwhelmed and ineffective.

You may find that you have more routines established in your family than first thought. Slip those into the above sketch. Little by little you will fill in your day with many mini-routines and you will start to see your family hum!

Live life with your kids!

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