Wednesday, October 6, 2010
DOES YOUR LIFE SEEM ROUTINE?
Whether we realize it or not, our lives are full of routines and rituals. Some of these enrich our lives and others are, frankly, a pain in the neck! We often complain about how “routine” our lives are, but those routines help keep us and our families grounded. And the rituals we have, many passed down from generation to generation, can be pretty wonderful, if you think about it. So what does this have to do with our great/grandchildren? PLENTY!!!
Routines (defined as: the usual sequence for a set of activities) and rituals (defined as: established formal behaviors or the performance of formal acts) give children a sense of belonging: to their family, to their peers, their schools, their holidays, their country, their religion, etc. Having predictable routines and rituals is reassuring to young children and affirming for older kids. They help kids connect to the world around them. Children find comfort and joy in following the “way it has always been done”...like when to eat trick-or-treat candy, what time each week you’re going to talk to each other on the computer, etc. It’s akin to children asking to hear the same story read over and over and over or mixing certain ingredients in a specific order when making cookies. There’s a feeling of accomplishment and certainty, because they know what to expect. And we do too. Children take pride in “their” rituals and routines, and no one should “mess with them”.
Keeping Things in Perspective - Routines That Work
Time constraints can make following routines with your great/grandchildren challenging. When you care for the children, some schedules, like bedtime, bath-time, play-time, homework time, eating, etc. can become overwhelming, especially if the child is adamant about following “their” routine…no matter what! The best way to alter routines and expectations is to give as much advance notice to the great/grandchild as possible, allowing them to process the upcoming change…and make the transition from one thing to another smoother. “I know you were counting on spending the night Friday, but we have to go out of town to see a friend. Even though we’ll miss this week’s sleepover, we’ll see you next week, at the regular time.” With younger children, when you’re tired, you can say, “I know you usually choose three books before you go take your nap, but today we only have time to read one…because I need to take a nap also. Let’s pick out the one book now, so we’ll have plenty of time to read it before nap time”. Remember, if you’re the caregiver, for whatever amount of time, it’s important to take care of yourself. If you live far away, and have a usually scheduled time to talk on the phone, let the great/grandchild know in advance, that Saturday isn’t going to be possible, and that you will reschedule the call for Sunday afternoon. All of this helps our great/grandchildren learn about compromise.