How many children have you heard recently talking with glee, pleasure and pride about all the fun wheels, stickers, emergency bags, homework nooks, or checklists their parents have created for them? Right, I didn’t think so.
Routines, it seems, require oodles of conversation among parents. The most popular at the moment seems to be Morning Routines and Homework Routines. This is no surprise as school has just begun, but come the holidays… well, you know, it all falls apart during the hustle and bustle of holiday fun, and then we’re back to the same conversation when the dust finally settles.
Now, if you are looking to read about what other parents say on the subject of routines, or if you have a fabulous story to tell about a clever way you get your kids organized in the morning, you may want to skip the rest of this article. It’s not for you. If, however, you are willing to challenge yourself, your decisions and your intentions about the purpose of your routines, you’ve found the perfect place, and I’m so glad you came!
It has been my observation that, more often than not, parents who talk about all the ways they are “helping” their children “create routines” under the guise of “making the children’s lives easier and supporting them to become more successful people,” are spending time and energy so that they, the parents, have something to feel good about.
If you are starting to balk about where this is all going right about now, go back to the first question I asked – Are your children talking about their routines and “routine helpers” with glee, pleasure and pride?
It seems to me that if parents were really creating routines for their kids, the parents wouldn’t go around talking about it all the time. It seems to me that personal routines, though indeed personal, are mainly created with the wrong people in mind.
Doesn’t it seem reasonable that if the intention behind creating routines was to teach our children how to create their own routines, then THE CHILDREN would be the ones talking about them?
As a mother of 5, I know first-hand the value of routines. The difference is this, what I taught my kids to do was HOW TO CREATE FOR THEMSELVES systems, routines and emergency bags ONCE… and then, I sent them on their way to discover and create the routines that worked best for them. I couldn’t, in all honesty, tell you what those systems and routines are, but I do know this…
My kids have been finishing homework and their household chores, and we have been leaving the house on time and for years. And it ain’t because I decided that I was going to micro-manage my children’s lives for “their own good!”
One of the driving principles of the Parenting On Track™ Home Program is that of raising independent, responsible, resourceful, resilient, problem-solving children. How do you suppose kids learn those skills? By using routines and systems that we create for them? Nope. By trying one, failing; making changes, failing; getting back up, failing; getting back up and finally arriving at the perfect solution, the perfect system, the perfect routine for them.
I ask you which of the two choices below is more important to you – really.
- Children who brush their teeth every day because they like to get stickers?
- Children who can manage their time and feel empowered because they figured it out for themselves.
So the next time you think about setting up a routine for your children, ask yourself the following:
- Who is the routine really for – You, or your kids?
- Is it about developing a routine or controlling the situation?
- Routine… did anyone ask the kids?
- Left on their own, what routine would your children create?
For more information about how to blend training with letting go and empowering your children, learn more about the Parenting On Track™ Home Program today.