“Sow the seeds of adaptability early on, so as the little ones grow up, they can design their lives simply and easily, on their own.”– Pallavi Prakash Kumar.
Having a schedule for oneself is an important aspect of life. Unsolicited advice like this feels annoying, isn’t it! But they are true and wise. In terms of personal health or career-wise, we all know that following a routine is rewarding or having a structure in place helps us feel sorted to a large extent. The same is applicable for children.
The difference between schedule and routine is also covered in the later part of the blog, so read it till the end. And if you want to know my son’s schedule, one that we’ve been following during the ongoing pandemic, check them out; it is towards the end of this blog.
Now, why is it important to develop a schedule for children?
Children are just like adults in certain aspects, one of which is our shared fear of the unknown. Not knowing what to do next can be pretty stressful. Having a schedule takes away that stress to an extent and instead provides one with something to look forward to.
So, developing a schedule for a child is perhaps one of the most important responsibilities of a parent. OR raising a child who follows a routine is one of the major contributions a parent can make in a child’s developing stage.
Schools also follow a routine, however, school is an environment that is beyond our control. There are many variables in there. Teachers, other students, whatnot. Inside one’s own home, there is a better sense of control for customization and planning. Here, we can help our child develop a schedule as per how she/he wants or based upon our understanding.
So, here are some of the reasons why keeping a consistent schedule is important for children:
1. Decreases stress and anxiety:
Studies have shown that we are amidst an epidemic of anxiety which, as the sound of that might lead you to believe, isn’t the ideal situation. To help our children deal with the stressors of life, we must help them develop a schedule. A routine will provide the child with a sense of freedom as she/he will no longer worry about what is to come; they already know. There is comfort in familiarity and thus, that comfort helps to tackle stress and anxiety.
2. Builds a sense of independence:
If a child has a routine and we reward them for sticking to it, they will develop a sense of independence by following it. If they know “Homework at 4 pm” or “Breakfast at 8 am”, they will try to accomplish those tasks and this will build up their confidence and independence. It may seem like a little thing to adults but for a child, waking up on time and being at the table when asked to be is an accomplishment that they will be proud of themselves for. We must celebrate every little thing our children accomplish or achieve.
3. Develops healthy habits for a good lifestyle:
Children learn and adapt much faster than we do. If we try to include healthy and constructive habits into their routine, they will potentially adopt these habits for the rest of their life. Eating a meal on time, working out, yoga, cleaning their room etc. got to be a part of their everyday routine, meditation too.
4. Evokes comfort and familiarity amidst the chaos:
No family is perfect. If unfortunately, a family is going through a tough time, a schedule can help provide the child with a sense of comfort and familiarity. Despite the turmoil that the child may face, following a routine will provide her/him with some stability.
Having a structure to your day gives a sense of control in times of unpredictability and uncertainty.
5. Helps them understand the concept of “Work and Win”:
One of the tougher challenges of parenthood are not spoiling our children. A routine, wherein they are rewarded for following it through, will teach them the basic concept of “You must work to reap the rewards”. Moreover, it makes the surprises even more fun! Guess how?
One of the biggest benefits of having your child follow their schedule is, ironically, when they do not. The happiness your child may experience when instead of her/him having to clean their room, you have let the child go for free play or have some minutes of screen time. And one of the benefits I feel is not pointed out more often. This point might seem to contradict this entire article. However, our end goal is to provide our children with the best possible childhood. One that prepares them for the future, yes, but also a childhood full of memories they can look back upon fondly. Finding the right balance is the key!
Where to start?
As I wrote above, there is no better place to start building our child’s schedule than our home. We can start with basic things like having them make their bed, having breakfast with the family, etc. If our child can follow these, we can slowly build up and add more complex and tougher tasks to their schedule. If we build a schedule for them that includes fun activities as well, they will be much more inclined to stick to it.
Remember, our aim should always be to help the child, not control. Parenthood is a journey, not a race. Take things easy and step-by-step.
A little note for understanding here: a routine is based on the flow of activities and is a step in the direction of having a schedule, i.e., carrying out activities in a time-defined manner. As we grow, we learn more about our way of working and what ways work for us, taking us closer to where we desire to be.
The basic idea behind this blog has been to encourage you to start building a routine for your child that brings in familiarity, clarity, and a sense and practice of discipline.
Sow the seeds of adaptability early on, so as they grow, they can design their own routine!
I am enclosing Pratham, my 5-year old’s (at-home) routine, our joint effort in bringing back balance in our Covid-affected life! And, we are still learning!
Thank you for reading & happy Parenting!