Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The importance of a family routine

A recent study by The Princes Trust has found that children who have a regular routine are more likely to succeed academically than those that don't. See the full story in The Telegraph.

This does not surprise me at all. I grew up in a fairly poor, working-class family in a area of the country famed for under-achievement. My parents were big fans of routine and we all turned out alright. Mostly. Sadly, the same could not be said for all of our classmates, some of whom thought we were 'posh' for a number of reasons, including because we actually had a dining table. Now, I wouldn't put my other-half into the same pigeon-hole as most of my school contemporaries, but I remember in the early days, he too was in awe of our family life. Even though he came from a family of highly-educated professionals, he could not remember a time when all his family had sat down together at the same time and had a family meal. And despite the superficial advantages that my husband and his siblings had over me and mine, it was my family that have gone on to greater academic achievement. Anyway.....

I absolutely insist on routine for my own family. A routine is not just about setting the foundations for their future success, but also about stopping me being driven absolutely nuts. With four girls of seven-years and under, our routine is key to our family life. On a daily, and weekly basis, I don't have to think about what we are doing each day - we just do. We have blocks of time where we can do different stuff, and be spontaneous, but we work it all in around the keystones of meal-times and bed-time.

In the morning, the school routine is defined by an illustrated check-list on a notice-board in the kitchen. The older girls know exactly what they need to do next to get ready for school in time, while I sort out the younger twins. I could not cope if we did it a different way every day. Once we are done, I march them off to school at the exact same time every day, so they know exactly what speed to walk out to get them there on time. Hup! 2! 3! 4!

Our lunchtime is flexible to allow for playgroups, and whether Dad is home or not, but if we are at home, the dining table it is. And we eat together. The same for tea-time (dinner-time for you Southerners), where we all eat the same thing (or a variance of) at the same time. I can't say that all mealtimes are always harmonious and that I don't shout 'sit on your bloody chair, now!!' a gazillion times at the children, but they are, at least, a daily event.

I plan on continuing the family routine for as long as possible. My parents insisted on family meal times until we had all left home, and I believe their structure and guidance has given me the stability in my life which has helped me to be relatively normal and self-confident. I hope I can do the same for my girls.

by Sergeant J


  1. Haha! I love the hip 2,3,4! Do you sing a ,arching song as well?

    Thanks for translating into the tricky nor ether vernacular for me. Would have struggled otherwise.

    We're pretty hot on routine too. Dinner and bedtime are all fairly organised. I'm rubbish in the mornings though, so breakfast tends to be a bit hit and miss as I need to schedule at least 20 mins so I can stare into space and wonder who I am.

  2. Agreed. Got a bedtime routine going for my baby girl when she was only a few weeks old and it was my saviour.

    Very much a stickler for sitting at the table for meals too. No telly either!

  3. Agreed. Got a bedtime routine going for my baby girl when she was only a few weeks old and it was my saviour.

    Very much a stickler for sitting at the table for meals too. No telly either!

  4. A fellow twin mum! We have 4 children under 8 years and have dinner together every night - it's a good chance to debrief and plan the events for the next day. It was a bit harder when the twins were babies and life was more chaotic though! Life is a lot more orderly now. Phew!

  5. I have always been as stickler for routine - until lately when I have eased right up on it.

    By regimenting a strict routine my concerns were that if there should be a change to the routine - for whatever reason is that it would be met with upset from the children.

    It's a toughie and one of those 'what works for me may not work for you' type things! x

  6. We have routines in our house too. Every Wed night we have Family Meeting night http://blog.mummybrain.com/2011/09/family-meeting.html On Thur night we have games night http://blog.mummybrain.com/tag/games-night and Sun night is our BBQ or roast night (depending on weather) http://blog.mummybrain.com/2011/08/sunday-roast.html
    The kids love knowing that we have those nights, and look forward to them.


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