We’re now a full week into 2018 and I couldn’t be happier about that. I mentioned last week about the struggles I experience during the “crimbo limbo” and how by the time New Year’s Eve comes around I’m more than ready for a fresh start. I think a big part of this is routine. It might not be sexy to make your life as regular and predictable as possible but it is good for your mental health.
And a good life routine isn’t just beneficial to us as parents but it’s good for our kid’s emotional health too. Has anyone else’s child magically transformed to a calmer and more peaceful little person since returning to school? Caterpillar definitely has and I think that’s due to a combination of a return to his routine and reaping the benefits of a happier, brighter mum who knows which way is up.
So why is routine so important to us as humans? Here’s my take…
The illusion of control
Anxiety is all about control. It’s about not knowing what’s going to happen next and whether you’ll be able to handle it. One lesson I learnt the hard way is that we can never truly control what happens in our lives but having a good daily and weekly routine at least cultivates some predictability, and this can provide quite a lot of comfort.
Improving your time management
This is pretty obvious but having a regular routine, especially in the morning, helps you to be prepared and on time for the day’s tasks. This means that you’re less likely to feel stressed or harassed and may lead to more free time later in the day for refuelling and self-care.
Scrappy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants people definitely hold a certain amount of charm and are often considered more fun than the organised Type As among us but if you’re consistently late for appointments or often double booking your evenings people will eventually lose patience. This can subsequently lead to irritation and stressful confrontations all of which can be avoided by being a little more organised about the routine in your life. Personally, I’m a strange combination of control freak and scatty maniac, something which is probably a constant irritant to my nearest and dearest!
Better rest patterns
I definitely need to practice what I preach on this one but it’s true nonetheless. Regular bedtimes and a good winding down routine aids better sleep and we all know that better sleep aids better mental health. Now if I could just get myself up to bed before midnight…
It helps the kids, which helps you
There’s a reason lots of baby ‘experts’ promote getting your child into a routine. Kids reap the same benefits as us from routine and feel safer and happier when they know what’s expected of them day by day. I’ve personally found that telling Caterpillar in advance about our plans (and subtly highlighting any pitfalls for potential meltdowns) helps a lot with his behaviour and general mood.
Now I don’t want you to think I’m advocating total rigidity here. Being too strict with yours or your child’s routine definitely comes with it’s own issues. Real life requires change and flexibility and rolling with the events of the day is another way to avoid stress. But having a simple but healthy morning and bedtime routine, and a practical weekly schedule can help a potentially chaotic mind find some peace.