AMES, Iowa – Routines can help busy families have meaningful connections throughout the week, creating a peaceful and harmonious home environment, said Barbara Dunn Swanson, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“Having regular routines can be a helpful strategy for busy parents and kids, such as waking up at the same time each day or eating dinner together at a set time each evening,” said Dunn Swanson, who specializes in family wellbeing.
“Some parents may plan to rise first so they have some ‘me’ time before their kids awake. After school, the children may have scheduled piano lessons or basketball practice followed by completing their homework. These are examples of family routines,” Dunn Swanson said.
Parents should consider a child’s individual temperament and their age and stage in life when establishing routines, Dunn Swanson continued.
“For example, having a place set aside for doing homework that is separate from where other family members are watching TV, can help children develop a successful homework routine,” Dunn Swanson said. “Finding time to gather together as a family to discuss the events of the day, whether at an evening meal, or before bedtime, can help children relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep.”
Routines help children in the family know what to expect and often reflect family values. And when children know what to expect, they can adjust their own personal behaviors. When families face “tough times,” their routines may be interrupted, Dunn Swanson noted. However, parents who maintain routines during the chaos will find that the routines can be a protective factor and may help the family to feel more stable during the tough time.
If children are experiencing big emotions or seem to have difficulty dealing with their feelings, helping them to maintain a routine, while taking time to explore what they need to feel better, will help everyone in the family, Dunn Swanson said.
The Science of Parenting team at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has several podcasts related to the importance of family resilience, routines and helping children learn to handle their emotions.
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