Routines for kids- the good and bad

After reading this article on the BBC news website about how kids with a routine of set bedtimes and mealtimes do better at school, it got me thinking about routines. What routines do our kids have and what did I have as a child?

I certainly did have structure, and our kids do have set routine times for the basics of getting up, mealtimes and going to bed - these are more flexible in the school holidays of course!

One of the comments on this article surprised me - someone stated that changing TV schedules haven't helped parents keep routines! 

I think that parents need to be aware of their children's needs and able to be in control rather than affected so much by outside influences like TV schedules, or opinions of others.  I believe that we as parents need to demonstrate control of our lives to enable our children to develop a responsible control over their own lives. 

I'm not saying that we aren't influenced by outside factors, but our lives are not controlled by them. 

Thinking about routines in the middle of a 2 month summer break from school is interesting.  Our girls are very rarely at a loss for something to do. They play very well together and have endless imaginary games to keep them amused - or immerse themselves in books, craft or play outside in the swimming pool or just the garden.  But after 4 weeks of holidays I had decided that I wanted to introduce a bit more routine into theirs - and my day. Some time spent exploring their new laptops - a little time playing some games that will keep their brains working while away from school, and also time to get active.  However, starting the new year with these great plans - but losing my voice and being sick hasn't helped us get stuck into the new routine!

The aforementioned article from the BBC states that children with more structured days grow up more confident and with more direction in their lives.  I think routine is just a part of this - but an important part.  Kids need structure and order - but there also has to be a balance.

Several years ago I worked as a teaching assistant in a school in Japan.  I learnt how structured children's lives are in Japan - for example I remember reading a school trip schedule in which every minute was accounted for, down to the times to clean their teeth, get dressed and brush their hair! There was no freetime on that schedule.
 I also remember reading an article about what Japanese teenagers worry about most.  Very high up on the list was 'having free time'!! Simply because they did not know what to do with it!   
Now I'm sure this is not the blanket case across the whole of Japan, but it demonstrates the effect that too much structure can have on children.  They need to learn to think for themselves - but you have to give them the tools to be able to do this sensibly and morally.  That is a parent's job - to provide routines, structure and boundaries within which a child can grow and develop. These children will then eventually learn to push and shape those boundaries and structures to suit their own lives and characters. 

Meal and bedtime routines are important basic foundations that all children need and should have.  Routines beyond that I think depend on the time, (school or holiday) and personal choice of how you want to bring up your own children.

Personally I feel like I would like to have a little more structure and routine in my life - and if I can manage this - and include our kids in that, I would achieve a lot more than I do now.  But once again - balance is key! I certainly don't want to schedule activies into every minute of their holidays - but a little direction and a little more shared time would be a good thing!  Now I just have to get my voice back and we can get started!

How about you?  How much routine do you put into your child's day?  Are you happy with it? How does it compare to your own childhood routines? and is routine a good or bad thing?


  1. Routine is so important. You don't need to be locked into a rigid schedule, but it's sure nice to know that it's nearly dinnertime, or naptime is still at least an hour away so there's time to play or to run errands. I can see how it would build confidence in kids - they don't have to ask when things are happening, they can budget their time on their own.

    Following you from Welcome Wednesday. Hope you have a moment to drop by Happy Hour Projects to say hello!


  2. I like structure and routine. In fact I recently took on a part time job that has a different schedule every week. I was a basket case!

  3. I have been way too relaxed with routines over the years. Regular pregnancies and other health issues have caused me to be too tired to enforce a "regular" way of life. Now babies are done for me I am working on getting some more regularity to our lives. I do remember as a kid feeling very safe knowing that dinner was always at 7pm. I want to do the same for my kids.

    Good luck with your endeavours and thanks for visiting my blog.

  4. Thanks for your comments everyone!

    Having that routine also helps kids with learning to tell the time too - and gives them a reason to learn.
    And Nancy - I focussed on how important a routine is for the kids - but really as you point out, it's good for us as adults too!

  5. I totally agree!! Kids with more structure do have more confidence and direction. i try to give my son structure and keep it fun but at the same time, he has schedules and knows the rules and to follow them. It's a shame to see kids out running wild with no consequences or schedules. Great article and blog!! Glad I found it!! I found your blog on the blog hop. Followed on google and fb. :)

  6. Thanks Jean! and thanks for following too! Have returned the favour!


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