As a lot of people know, having a family often comes with many challenges, memories, and experiences. One of the biggest things to try and figure out is the ever-changing family dynamics that evolve as people grow and change. Something that can help with this is to create routines that you and your family try to stick to.
Creating new and healthy routines is something we could all benefit at the start of each new year. Our routines are often the most difficult things to change and adapt, especially when we have children. However, this is something that will benefit you as much as it does your children.
However, changing old habits and routines can be hard, and you should be wary of the fact that each family is different, as is each member of said family. Make sure that if you are looking to switch things up, change the way you do things and your behaviors, that you give yourself reasonable and achievable goals. You can always start small and gradually add or do more.
What are routines?
Routines are when you have a regular, predictable pattern, program, or activity that often happens at a specific time or day and usually in the same order. For example, a personal “morning routine” could consist of waking up at 7 am, doing 5 minutes of stretches, brushing your teeth, having a shower, making breakfast, leaving for work, or getting on with the rest of your day.
An example of what a family routine could look like is having dinner at the same time together, enjoying a game night on the same day each week, or even who washes up the dishes after eating.
Why are routines important?
Humans thrive on structure, and routines generally create these daily structures for us subconsciously. They not only help us get through our days in the most efficient way possible but having positive routines in your life can also improve your mental, emotional, and even physical health, while also helping to reduce things like stress.
Signs that you and your family need a new routine
There are several signs you can look out for which may indicate that you and your family need to work on or create new routines to add to your schedules. A few examples include:
Lack of productivity
Having no routine or structure can lead to becoming lethargic and unproductive.
Even if you want to do something, you can often make up an excuse and just think “oh I will just watch TV today instead of going on a walk with the family”.
Frequent personality clashes
It could be that due to a lack of routine, that there is also a lack of structure and purpose within the household, and this can lead to arguments and irritability.
Feeling stuck in a rut
If every day is feeling the same, but not in a good way then it is easy to feel like you are stuck in a rut and could be an indication that you need to change your daily routine.
Top tips to create a new routine for your family
Do you feel like creating some routine within your family is something beneficial to you, but you are not sure where to start? If so, here are several top tips to try and help you implement them into your family’s life.
What do you want to achieve from your routine?
When you are creating new or changing your old habits and routines it is important to think about why you are doing it, and what you will achieve from it. If you have a purpose and a reason for adding a new behavior or action into your family’s life, then you will be a lot more likely to succeed in implementing it. So, don’t just add new things into your life without a reason.
How much family involvement would you prefer?
Some routines will require the involvement and cooperation of the entire family, some may just be for a select few. For example, if you are a new family with young children then a “full family routine” could be something like eating dinner together at the same time every evening, or not having mobile phones/tablets at the table, allowing time for bonding and focusing on each other.
Another example of this but for “selective family members” could be for just the parents and figuring out who is taking and picking up the kids from school. This will allow shared responsibility, and the ability to know when you can fit other things in. So, when creating new routines, think about who needs to be involved and why.
What are the family strengths and weaknesses?
Every family is different, and every family member will have different strengths and weaknesses. It is important to consider these factors when attempting to change your family routines, as some people may struggle more than others with the changes.
Make sure that you give enough support and consideration to your family members that may potentially struggle and encourage them rather than put them down. Sometimes you might need to try something a different way a few times before it works for everyone.
Are the routine changes realistic?
People can often set the bar too high when trying to achieve something in life, which ultimately leads to premature failure. This happens a lot with gym expectations, promotions, and of course lifestyle changes. So, something to consider when you are trying to change the way you and your family do things is to ensure that you set reasonable and realistic goals.
What challenges might you face?
The key here is communication and discussion. When trying to change old habits or indeed introduce new ones into your life, it will be challenging and not always straightforward. You need to be open and clear with other members of your family if you are struggling or if you can see another/easier/better way to achieve something.
Similarly, you should be mindful of others, and if you see that they are finding something hard, open some space up for them to talk to you about it. Sometimes people can find it hard to accept help or even admit they need it.
It is important to consider what barriers you may face before starting any new routines, so you can plan and adapt around them. For example, if you have children under the age of 2, this can be difficult to start and maintain, especially if you find that your child is going through sleep regression at 6 months old, or thereabouts.
What are your current habits and patterns?
When creating new routines, it is typical to try and streamline your life so that it becomes easier, more meaningful, and with greater productivity. Something that could hinder the changes you are looking for are your current habits and patterns.
So, when you are planning the new routines that you wish to put into your life, make sure that you also look at your current lifestyle, as you might want to also reduce or eliminate certain behaviors or actions that may damage your progress if left unchecked.
This could be for example, if everyone in the family goes to bed at 9 pm but you stay up until 1 am watching TV, this may lead you to having a much lower quality of sleep and you should consider going to bed at the same time as everyone else and perhaps read in bed instead.
If this is too much of a big change, you could set an earlier, healthier limit such as 11 pm to switch the TV off.
Make a plan and write it down
A great way to motivate and hold yourselves accountable is to visualize the progress that you intend to make, your goals, and your achievements. Writing your plan of action down is one way to visually remind and reinforce why you are doing the things you are doing.
You could do several things like putting your plan in a place that everyone will see it most days (in the kitchen for example), or you can make it fun and interactive if you are a new family with young kids and give them stickers every time that a new routine was stuck to (for example remembering to brush their teeth after every meal).
Get everyone involved to commit
Sometimes a family is only as strong as its weakest link, so it is important to include everyone and to try and get as much involvement and enthusiasm from each family member as possible.
If you have teenagers, this can be fairly tricky depending on what kind of mood they are in. But there are often ways to get around this, for example, by treating them as an equal. Their opinions or ideas may not fit in the new direction that you wish to take your family’s routines, but don’t just dismiss or throw out their ideas.
Take some time to discuss why their ideas fit or don’t fit, as this will help them feel included and much more likely to participate in any future family routines that you are trying to create. It has to be meaningful to each individual to work.
So, if you or any members of your family feel like your days are just missing a little something, then maybe it is time to switch things up a bit, evaluate how you are living your day-to-day life and see if there are any changes to your routines that you could start to implement.
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