The Routine. The Ordinary. The Repetitive.
Those things that have to be done day after day.
All of us have those routines. Some of them are small routines, like brushing our teeth, combing our hair, and locking the door when we leave. Others are more challenging. Reading the Bible, exercising, and washing the dishes are all good things we should do every day (or at least most days), but they aren’t so small or so easy.
In our home, I’ve found the most challenging of routines involve parenting Rooster. I know it’s important to establish healthy habits in his life now so that when he is older those things come naturally, but knowing the right thing and doing it are very different.
We have several routines we try to consistently practice in our house. Things like:
- Blanket time in which we practice sitting still and playing independently
- Picking up our toys before naptime and mealtimes so that we don’t have a constantly messy house.
- Always eating at the table and not walking around the house with a sippy cup.
- And most importantly, teaching obedience by correcting misbehavior Every. Single. Time.
These are things we need to do every day, often multiple times a day.
But it’s hard.
Some days I simply forget. Other days I choose to let those things fall by the wayside. I lay Rooster down at night and trip over toys as I try to sneak out of his room. I find sippy cups of milk curdling under the bed (so much for staying in the kitchen) and twice now I’ve found shoes in the toilet (an unsupervised child is an undisciplined child).
More often than not, my good intentions become like words in the sand washed away by the crashing waves of laziness (there I said it! I’m lazy!). I let myself become complacent, and the consistent routines I desperately desire to achieve simply become ideals with no bearing on our behavior as a family.
I’m not okay with that.
I believe consistent routines are the heartbeat of parenting. We communicate values and instill character by repeatedly sending the same message about what’s important and, consequently, what’s not. The lessons that we drive home day after day will have a lasting impact on the lives of our children and our family.
You may think that I’m exaggerating the importance of those small things like picking up our toys, but the habits I teach my one-year old will directly impact his behavior when he’s two, then three, and so on. Those small things have a big impact on our family life (and my mental health).
Of course, it’s easy to lose sight of this as parent. Many times in the past year I've given in to the “just this one time” mentality. It won’t hurt for me to take the easy way out just this one time. The problem occurs when one time becomes one time too many and the easy way leads to behavior that’s not so easy to deal with.
Now, I’m a big believer in flexibility. You can’t always stick to a schedule, and you need to be able to readjust when things don’t go according to plan, but laziness and
intentional forgetfulness aren’t
flexibility. They’re bad habits and definitely not so good for parenting.
So what’s a tired, frazzled mother to do? Decide what’s important and stick to it.
Even when you’re exhausted and cranky and hungry and really just want to use the bathroom in peace? Yep, even then!
|Ever had that kind of day? Bad hair and hanging on for dear life?|
Because really, those small parenting decisions like the way you handle a screaming toddler or keeping toys picked up are really only beneficial if they become a way of life, hopefully a life characterized by good habits and healthy discipline.
So next time you’re tempted to let your child “get away” with something, just remember: If you give an inch they’ll take a mile…and probably run screaming with it down the aisle at Wal-Mart.
Linking up at WholeHearted Home