Young children have an immense amount of information coming at them every day and as parents, we sometimes forget, have tuned out or have built up a tolerance for all that crazy fast-paced information. For little ones with immature and sensitive nervous systems, navigating a day of preschool, tagging along for a full day of errands or even having the television or radio on can be overwhelming. So, unless relocating to a remote island is in your future, then being conscious about maintaining a good routine and rhythm is the way to go for good health (for you and the little ones in your house).
Good parenting involves creating a routine around sleep, food and social activities that allows a child to relax into the day knowing that his/her basic needs are taken care of. With a solid routine in place, with warm, cooked, nutritious food at regular times throughout the day, regular naps and bedtime schedule and plenty of time to play outside in nature will help the young nervous stay strong and healthy and prevent illness. Pretty simple and common sense, right? But somehow not always easy to do.
Here are some other ways to help create good rhythm in the home:
- Choose a couple days where you have the same breakfast on that day every week. For instance, you could make oatmeal for breakfast every Monday and scrambled eggs with toast every Friday. Pick whatever days’ work for you; the important thing is to stick with it to maintain consistency (and make sure the breakfast you make is full of good nutrition). And having it on Monday and Friday helps bookend the week.
- Create routine around chores. Young children learn by imitation and they love to help when possible, so give them jobs like setting the table for dinner, light sweeping, folding laundry or watering plants.
- Children love bedtime stories, whether read from a book or told on the fly and this helps bring peace and relaxation before drifting off to sleep. In addition, my children also crave a good foot rub or head massage before bed (who doesn’t!).
- Say some kind of blessing or acknowledgement of gratitude before eating and perhaps even lighting a candle can add a special quality to family meals.
Having these little habits in place may seem like no big deal, but they can help create a sense of stability that allows little bodies to grow strong and little imaginations to flourish. Try it out and see what happens. And if you fall off the “routine wagon”, don’t worry or don’t beat yourself up about it, just hop right back on and keep going.