How To Prepare Your Children For A Change In Routine
Routine is something that a lot of children really thrive on. Having an established schedule when it comes to how the day runs can offer a great level of comfort and security. Knowing what to expect and being able to recognise the signals is a powerful way to instil confidence in your child as well as offering comfort.
On some level, we all like to have a sense of what to expect from each day.
Children are extremely clever. They will notice a pattern in how the week unfolds and will come to expect little shifts in that routine on different days. They will expect the change at the weekend for example as it’s part of the package they have come to expect.
A change in routine can be something that unsettles your child. It might be a really subtle change such as a bedtime that is earlier or later or it might be something greater such as finishing up at school for the summer.
Regardless of the reason, it is always a good idea to invest some time to help your children prepare for a change in routine. It could help avoid adverse reactions to these changes which could really disturb the sense of harmony within the family.
1. Plant the seed as soon as possible so that your child can come to terms with an impending change. You can mention it lightly and without great fuss such as mentioning that “when the baby comes” we might do this or that a little differently.
2. Reassure your child that change is OK. Sometimes things happen a little differently as we get older. You might tell them that this particular change shows that they are getting bigger and you are so proud of them. This might come in handy when it relates to toilet training or moving from a cot to a bed for example.
3. Talk about the day’s plans at breakfast or in the car on the way to school. They may need a reminder that today is the day that someone else collects them or that they will be going straight from school to football practice. It can work out better than a sudden surprise that they were not expecting.
4. Try to remain calm if your children reject the idea of change. Simply offer reassurance and a sympathetic ear because while this change is no big deal in our world it might be huge in theirs. Reassurance will help them make peace with the change.
5. Allow your children to dictate some of that change. For example – you might mention that during the school holidays the family can enjoy some extra days out together. Asking them what they would like to do and respecting their input can help put a positive slant on the change that is to come.
6. During times of great change try to keep everything else as normal and routine as possible. For example, when a new baby comes along, try to maintain the other children’s bedtimes and sleeping quarters so that there is still a strong sense of security in the midst of all of the change. You don’t want your child to associate the baby (or change in routine) as something that they resent.
Tracey is mammy to five-year-old Billy and newborn Willow. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can follow her on Instagram.