Sometimes, especially with a large family, life runs more smoothly with a routine. I read about how children with autism respond more positively if they know what to expect on any given day. It’s when there is a diversion from the routine that problems can occur. I’ve put it to the test more than once. If everyone knows what to expect, things can happen more efficiently.
My family routine is a tricky one to maintain, just like any is. But it’s so helpful. Think about when the kids were toddlers. Setting up their morning routine means it usually happens without argument. It includes teeth brushing, getting dressed and eating breakfast. The same goes for a bedtime routine.
Even the dog gets his routine. He has his bowl of Kibble first thing in the morning followed by a quick walk around the block. Then he knows to sit on his dog bed until everyone is ready to leave the house for work or school. You can buy bigger, comfortable dog beds by Shinola and other online stores if it helps keep him there. It means he’s not underfoot during the breakfast rush.
Diet and exercise work better when they are routine or just a part of our lifestyle too. The doggy bed trick works perfectly to keep the dog out of harm’s way while I’m cooking. I’m less distracted, so I can home-cook from scratch better quality dishes.
The kids know to get their homework done during this time too. Their challenge is to finish it before dinner is on the table. Then the meal is relaxed. We can talk about problems that came up, and after dinner the hours before bed are ours to enjoy as we like.
Weekend routines are a lot less rigid. I’m not sure whether that is a good idea or not! I have lots of chores around the house to do at the weekend. With the kids off school, I expect them to help with some of them. That doesn’t always happen. They head out with friends or disappear into the den!
Chore lists help a little. The younger kids love seeing the ticks or stars mount up next to their name. I think it gives them a sense of pride knowing that they are contributing to the household. Older kids like to think their pocket money allowance is tied into the chart. More ticks mean more money. It isn’t, but it does work as a motivator! It helps the kids see what is expected of them, so they can fashion their own routine for completing their tasks.
A routine helps me as a parent to get things done. It happens almost on autopilot these days. Monday is laundry day, and Tuesday is grocery shopping. It helps that I don’t have to think so much about it, or I might get a bit overwhelmed about how much I have to accomplish! Every good routine starts with a comprehensive list of what needs doing. Then all you need to do is organize the family to get it done!