This can be a big topic, and there really is a lot to tackle here, but we’re going to do our best to walk through some different thoughts. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pick up on some ideas and begin incorporating them with your family!
First of all, I’d define a healthy routine as something that you want your family to participate in on an almost daily, if not daily, basis. To not do these things would be unhealthy habits. Let’s talk through some practical steps:
1. Make these daily habits consistent
When teaching your kids the importance of creating and repeating healthy habits, these need to be things that apply to them often. For example, after we finish eating, we always pick up our dishes. Or every night before bed, we brush our teeth. Some things don’t have to be chore related, but can still be a good habit to instill like reading a certain amount every day (maybe even before screen time).
2. Say what you are doing and why
My 19 month old has already picked up on the fact that we pick up after ourselves because it’s a mess, and messes get picked up. It’s a simple concept but helps her to understand the reasoning behind picking up our toys, cleaning our hands after eating, etc. It also helps our children to understand that it’s a way of taking care of the things that we have. That is a bigger lesson that’ll continue to be developed as they get older, but is a good one to get started on now! Another example would be explaining that we read the Bible every day so we can know more about God. My daughter loves reading books already, which is great, but I also want her to understand why we prioritize reading this specific book every day.
3. Keep at it even if the concept seems lost on them
Don’t be afraid to stay consistent even if it seems like it’s not catching on at first or that they may be too young. If my 19 month old can say “Grinch” first thing when she wakes up and all throughout the day because she wants to watch it all the time, then I think she can pick up on “time to pray before bed” or “let’s pick up our mess before we move on to another activity.” Hearing the same message over and over is one way they learn!
4. Make sure some of these healthy habits are enjoyable
Hopefully, all of the daily habits you want for your family are always enjoyable for everyone! But the reality is, that may not always be the case. That is why I feel it’s important to make sure that many of the healthy habits are things that your kids look forward to throughout the day. If we’re lucky, these habits will become some of their favorite things to incorporate. Examples of this for me would be that Isla loves bath time, so I make sure she is getting in a bath at least every other day, if not more (she’s been asking for one on a daily basis lately). She also enjoys helping me unload the clean dishes out of the dishwasher, put clean clothes on each morning, and eat fresh fruit. Because she enjoys these things, I try to make sure I’m making an effort to see that these happen often. As our kids grow up, the list of things that they will need to accomplish will only continue to lengthen. My hope is that I can facilitate a healthy and fun atmosphere around daily habits.
Overall momma, what do you want your home to be centered around? Daily habits that I have for my home may not be the things that you prioritize in yours, and that’s totally OK! Just be sure that you have identified those things that are important to you and your family, and stay consistent. It’s amazing how quickly kids pick up on bad habits and routines. If we are on a road trip and let Isla watch the iPad while traveling, she’ll expect it to still be there when we get back home and aren’t traveling long distances anymore. This habit that’s been established within a couple days takes at least that long to undo. Consider that it’ll take some time when setting up healthy routines if you are also trying to break a few bad ones at the same time as well. I’ll end with this thought–do you want to encourage helpfulness, imagination, and creativity? Shut down the screen time after a certain amount of time and explain why. It can be easy to redirect their focus if a different activity is still engaging them, even if it’s just you doing the engaging! We have the responsibility of raising up these young ones that have been entrusted to us. Hang tight and reach out to other moms for support if you are feeling overwhelmed with instilling any habits that are going to be healthy for your home because it is worth it and you can do it!
I’m Grateful For…
The role and task of teaching my children how to behave and know what is expected of them as participating members of the household. I want my kids to feel they are just as much a part of the family without thinking that they are in charge. That is my role along with my husband, and we want to take it seriously because we love them so much!