When many people, most of whom I have never met before, find out that I am a mom to four children, there are often two reactions which I receive! One is a reaction of horror, followed by a bemused look as a means of sympathy! The other reaction involves a sharp intake of breath, and then the genuine question of how do I cope? followed by, could you offer me some advice?
Size Is Not Important
Though I don’t consider our family of six to be a big family as such, I am aware that we aren’t what is referred to as the 2.4 children norm! To me personally, whether you have an only child or perhaps even ten children, the role of being a parent or care giver is ultimately the same. We all want to be able to raise our children to be the best they can possibly be, at the same time encouraging them to have fun in a safe environment. Whilst I admit, having to do the job four times over can be a greater pressure, it does not make it unachievable!
Routine Need Not Be Dull
When I was working as a CEO, I felt as though our family was never organised, never good with a routine, and were always tired and agitated with one another; and I’m not just talking about the adults here either! Since leaving my position to focus on my family life, I have come to understand that whilst the word routine often strikes fear into the heart of many children and parents alike, it can be one of the best ideas you may ever implement as a family!
The Whiteboard Is a Family Life Saver
Our routine is written on a whiteboard for all family members to refer to. I prefer a whiteboard, as it allows us to make necessary changes as and whenit suits us. With times allocated for those dreaded chores, and advanced warnings of upcoming school meetings and after school sessions, it’s not hard to determinewhere a certain family member is by looking at our routine board. Our wonderfully decorated board is often a talking point for visitors, and I don’t hesitate in marvelling about its merits and what it has done for our family to anyone I meet. It’s therefore only fair that I share it with you!
Tips for Introducing a Successful Family Routine:
First things first, ensure its practicality:
Routines should be there as a guide, so each family member knows where they should be, and at what times, enabling them to do this easily. However, life does indeed get in the way from time to time, and there will be weeks when adhering to the routine just simply isn’t possible. Don’t feel disappointed because of this. Instead incorporate a little flexibility into your routine and prepare a back-up plan if you feel it may be needed for certain weeks.
Get all family members involved:
If your routine is to work for everyone, and be taken seriously, it is essential that you involve all family members in its creation. Don’t just write something down and assume they will stick to it. Studies have shown that children especially are more inclined to offertheir assistance, and work to their routine, when they have a say beforehand in planning it. Take some time to discuss why you are bringing in the routine, alongside what you hope it will accomplish for the family. Better still, let the little ones suggest one or two ideas, no matter how small.
Shake it up a bit:
If your routine involves every member doing certain chores on a regular basis, make sure to add variety to it. We all should attend to the more boring of chores, and it is only fair that the younger members of the household do so too. But,understandthat with such a short concentration span, children do and will become bored if their routine is monotonous. Try mixing up the younger kid’s chores so they aren’t repeating them day after day. Alternatively schedule a fun filled activity to take place right after chore time, so they have something to look forward to; completing their tasks that little bit quicker!
We all know how it goes; you start out with all good intentions but, a few weeks into the school year, it all tends to go to pot! People get tired, and the routine begins to slacken a little until finally you realise you’ve all stopped following it, whilst the home and indeedfamily is in complete utter chaos. But, the best part of implementing some sort of routine for children is that it comforts them, as they know what is expected of them. If there’s anything I’ve learned from having four children, it’s that they always like to know what’s coming next! So, if you can consistently keep to the routine you set, the rest of the family will be inclined to as well.
I think the most important thing to remember about routines is why you felt the need to implement one in the first place? None of us choose to live a rigid, boring andstrictlifestyle and such a routine will not encourage our children to flourish. Most importantly, a successful routine shouldn’t be strict or boring.It should ultimately be a useful guide which enables you and your family to gain the maximum amount of time to do the fun things, whilst encouragingtogether time. If you feel your routine isn’t doing this, and in fact does the complete opposite, consider restructuring it. Remember, what works for one family, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another; so, don’t punish yourself if you don’t get it right the first-time round.
So, dig out that whiteboard you’ve had lying around thegarage for months now, grab some snacks, put on some music and gather up all the glitter and stickers. Group the entire family around the table to create a routine that works for you all. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!