I am going to admit something that I have adamantly denied to my husband forever, I would not describe myself as spontaneous…ok, there I said it…It feels like I am admitting to not being fun, but lets agree that spontaneity is not the opposite of boring. I am someone who likes routine, structure and plans. I like knowing what to expect and being prepared and find comfort in organization.
Daily routine and structure is not only a preference but I believe it is also a healthy life choice. Following a pattern throughout your day and week reduces anxiety and also frees up brain power to focus on what you are doing and reduces cognitive fatigue.
For example, lets say you are packing your bag to getting ready for a soccer game; your jersey is somewhere is the laundry room, your shorts are in a pile on your bedroom floor, your shin pads are outside where you took them off last week, your cleats are either by the front or back door and you have to search your vehicle for your favorite water bottle.
You just realized the time and are now scrambling to gather everything up and get out the door. You are arriving at your soccer game in a rushed state of mind, a little stressed and cognitively tired from all the processing your brain had to do in a short period of time. Now you have to calm down and switch your focus to the game, which will take a bit of time.
The alternative is your soccer bag is mostly packed, because you put all your gear back into your bag after the last game and you can grab it and head out the door with time to spare. Now you are arriving at your game relaxed and clear-headed ready to play.
My point is that routine and structure does not take away from fun but rather adds something positive to the experience.
Routine is a good thing!
Because I live this way, I am naturally modeling this for my kids and they have come to also rely on routine and structure. That is not to say that we do the exact same things at the same time every day, rather it means we follow a pattern that moves us from one activity to another throughout our day, even though the activities may vary.
The reason I have been thinking about this is because we are getting closer to summer and some of the main things that we use to keep us in a routine will end, like school, extracurricular activities and set work hours. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about summer and look forward to the change but also know that my family functions best with a schedule.
So,…how does my family enjoy the freedom of summer while keeping routine a priority? We anchor our days around set events, meals times and bed times. I know my kids are better behaved and more engaged when things are predictable. When they can anticipate what is coming up and what they will be doing next they are more relaxed and transitions happen smoothly. My 3-year-old daughter will ask me “what do I have today”, which tells me that she finds comfort in knowing, simple as that. Having a daily routine is just that, a way of feeling in control.
Here is an example of my kids morning routine, everyday.
- If they are up before 7am, they play in their rooms, separately or together.
- Get dressed
- Play until breakfast at 8am
- Wash up and brush teeth
- Start the day
This part of their day will stay the same through the summer, weather we are at home or at the cabin. Even thought they may not fully understand time, they know that once that sequence of activities have been completed we are ready to start our day. They can anticipate leaving the house or starting an activity at home, there are no surprises. Meals will also be on schedule, whether it is on the go or sitting at the table, and bed time routine is also a must.
Something we started doing last summer, which worked out really well for activity planning was making a Summer Bucket List with the kids. They came up with a whole bunch of ideas, some more elaborate than others, but it gave us something to choose from when deciding what to do each day. Sometimes we looked at the list the night before and picked something for the next day, and sometimes we picked a few days in advance if it was something that required more planning.
Here is our Summer Bucket List from last year. Not everything got done, but we did pretty good!
Now that my kiddos are a bit older, I want to encourage them to be more involved in our summer plans. We sat down all together and each came up with activity ideas in 4 categories. Next we shared our ideas with each other and came up with a Summer Bucket List we could all be excited about. I like this idea because it empowered them and gave them a say but it also was an exercise in planning. We talked about what we may need to pack depending on the activity and if it would cost money.
We were sure to include an activity from each person’s list and discussed why or why not each should make the cut.
The Summer Bucket List satisfied my need for organization and planning, but will still incorporated new fun activities into our summer.
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