Routines Save Lives – Tips for Creating Routines that WORK

Casey O'Roarty

I am a recovering control freak.  I didn’t even realize that I was a control freak until I had kids.  Before motherhood, I was really go-with-the-flow…  Laid back, spontaneous, mellow…

I didn’t know then that routines would become something that I desperately needed in order to thrive.

Yes, I need routines.

My family needs routines.

Routines keep me sane.  They keep the kids sane.  Routines literally save lives (because I would go ape sh*t crazy on my family without them…)

How do you know when you are in need of a routine?

Knowing that your family could use a routine requires you to pay attention to the ups and downs of your day.  When is there tension?  When do you find yourself feeling frustrated?  When do you notice that your children are uncooperative?

Growing your awareness this way gives you some key information. You will become more mindful of how you are currently dealing with problems, and what it is inviting from your kids.  You will likely begin to uncover what the problem is that exists underneath your child’s behavior.

Be graceful and own that you are very likely a part of the problem…  And this is a lovely revelation – because it means that changes in you will likely create changes in your child (yippee!).

So you realize you need a routine, what then?

Once you have begun to understand the time of days that are difficult for you and your children, pick one time to create a routine for.

Start with a conversation with your kids.  It may sound something like this:

Parent:  So kids, I am noticing that bedtime leaves me feeling really bad.  What do you notice about bedtime?

Again, fill your body with grace here, you are opening the door for your kids to let you know exactly how you are showing up when stressed.  You may not like what you hear and it is powerful for you to hold space for them to share…

Parent:  Yeah, I notice that no one wants to brush their teeth or wash their face.  There is a lot of silliness and I don’t like the way I act.

Again, they are likely to concur…

Parent:  I have an idea that might make bedtime more fun.  We are going to create a poster with pictures of you doing all the things you need to do before bed.  What do we need to do before bed?

The kids will mention all of those things you want them to do each night and they resist doing.  If they miss a few, be sure to ask them if they think they belong on the list.  There should be no more than 6 or 7 “tasks” on the list.

Then get really crazy and suggest they pretend its bedtime and take pictures of them following the routine.

At bedtime, let the routine be the boss.  Trust that they want to follow through – especially if you really allowed for them to contribute and didn’t get all controlling in the process (micro-managers out there – I feel you).

You will find yourself saying “what’s next on your routine chart” and that is ok. This won’t magically turn your kids into small adults who no longer have any emotions they are navigating.  

This process builds relationships, is mutually respectful and encouraging, is effective in the long term, teaches life skills and invites children to discover how capable they are.  Creating routines meet all the requirements for effective discipline!!!  Just ask Jane Nelsen, parenting expert and author of Positive Discipline – she created the criteria!!

So there you go…  I encourage all of you parents out there to play with this process. Don’t be afraid to give it a week and tweak what isn’t helpful.  Again, this is a process…  And let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Happy Parenting!




This post was written by Casey O’Roarety exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Casey O’Roarty, M.Ed. is a wife, mother, Certified Positive Discipline Trainer and Life Coach. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Arizona, and earned a Masters in Education from the University of Washington. She teaches teachers and parents all about how to build stronger, more authentic relationships with the children in their lives… Casey encourage grown ups to begin the process of embracing the challenges that come up, and see them as opportunities to model, teach and practice the skills we want our children to learn to embody.