Are routines and rituals both needed for a healthy family environment? As human beings we all begin and end things each and every day. Mealtime, chores, work, school, and many more activities. One of the most important endings of a day is mealtime and putting our kids to bed. Both are a time to reconnect as a family, reflect on the day, and rest. Many times for families with little ones it can be the exact opposite and feel like survival of the fittest during dinner and bedtime. Everyone is cranky, hungry, tired and you just can’t wait for them to go to bed. This is when routines take over and leave little to no room for rituals. The beginning and end of the day is when “I love you rituals” are important.
Rituals and routines are both equally important, but sometimes are not differentiated or understood resulting in a lack of rituals and a bucket full of routines. When it is not balanced, it can result in a very stressed caregiver feeling like “nothing is getting done” and unable to connect at all with their child. In the book, I love you rituals by Dr. Becky A. Baily, she outlines the needs for routines. She says they:
- Help children regulate their own internal clocks such as knowing that bath time comes after dinnertime.
- Help them learn to expect what is next and feel confident to complete the task due to children’s brains being pattern-seeking devices.
The difference between rituals and routines is the goal of connection. Routines have a goal of continuity and rituals have a goal of unity. Both are needed and have a very important place in the lives of a healthy family. Dr. Baily describes rituals as:
- activities that brings grounding
- help establish and maintain a safe place
- boost your child’s brain potential
- heal your old wounds as you extend love to the child
The key to everything when it comes to children is consistency and balance. Being consistent in developing new rituals and routines is important in establishing connection and continuity in a balanced manner. What are some “I love you rituals” that you can try?
- Family Handshake: Develop a simple special hand shake with your child and family members that you use when saying hello and good bye.
- End of the day song: Pick a favorite song of yours and the child’s to sing together before going to bed
- Connection bracelets: Purchase matching bracelets that can be worn by yourself and the child when away from one another. When reconnected discuss how it helped you both be reminded of each other.
- Lunch box notes: Take time to put an encouraging note in your child’s lunch box and/or a picture of the two of you they can look at during lunch time to be reminded how much they are loved.
- Weekly Family team meetings: Once a week have a “team meeting”. Decide on a team family name (for example: wolf pack). Discuss important points for the success of the next week and each family member’s needs/wants for the weeks exploring emotions and offering comfort and care when needed.