Trying to crack routines, is one of the biggest challenges of parenting. Getting little ones into a good bedtime routine is the parenting holy grail that the majority of parents strive for, to ensure everyone gets a good night's sleep! I'm not a stickler for rigid routine and have always kept a degree of flexibility within our family life. We have let Freddy's own natural rhythm dictate the way we parent him to some extent, but it was a great relief when he started sleeping through the night, adopting his own happy bedtime routine.
Routines become much more important as your child gets older and has to become a part of the world outside of their own home, with the routine of being at nursery and school to contend with. Routines can help children deal with change as they get used to the comfort, familiarity and security of repetitive behaviors.
Personally I like to strike a balance of routine and flexibility in our home, that reflects the day to day changes of family life. I provide the structure and safety of routine, but also have the freedom to throw it all out of the window to be spontaneous if necessary. Freddy likes to know what was going on in his life and enjoys the order of his day, but much of his routine is child led. It works well for us and he is a happy, confident child.
To help parents with achieving routines and to help children cope with change, Nick Jr have launched their Step by Step campaign, headed by TV favourite Dora the Explorer. We were sent some print outs and some Dora goodies. There are a range of downloadable charts that you can print out and share with your little ones to help establish good routines. I like that the child is involved with planning the steps and is a part of the process. For slightly older children, taking ownership of the structure of the day makes everyday routines a far happier affair. Children will enjoy ticking off all the steps on their bedtime routine chart as they take each step along with Dora!
You can find the printables along with a whole host of ideas to help children enjoy all of life's adventures at http://www.nickjr.co.uk/shows/dora/stepbystep/
To watch a recording of a live WebTV show on children's routines go to http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/how-important-are-routines-for-children