The importance of ‘maintenance activities’

Daily routines are often thought of as just “maintenance” activities: meal time, running errands, getting ready for bed, taking baths. But these everyday actions are rich opportunities to support your child’s learning and development and to bring comfort and consistency to your child’s life.

Kids don’t have a lot of control in their lives (some parents may argue that THEY don’t have much control ;-)) Routines give children a sense of organization, stability, and comfort and help them to learn self-control. Children thrive with structure, so it’s imperative that parents get them accustomed to routines.

During a Documentary Family Photo Shoot I basically photograph one routine after the other. That’s not boring. That’s awesome! Because routines are an important part of any child’s life.

Daily routines might include getting ready in the morning, mealtimes, homework, play time, family time and outdoor play, naptimes, bath and bedtimes. Many daily activities are based on step-by-step routines. For example, there’s your child’s “getting up” routine, which involves taking off pajamas, putting on undies and socks, bath time with brushing teeth etc, putting on clothes, followed by the breakfast routine. All these steps are part of a logical routine — a sequence of steps that fit together around a central theme – which offers an abundance to photograph skills and individuality of a child.

I get it. It takes a lot of patience to teach, watch, and wait for your child to complete tasks such as dressing herself (you could do it much faster for her). But give the little one the time s/he needs to finish at her own pace. Routines give your child confidence and independence, they feel empowered and independent, and are less likely to rebel or retaliate.

In order for routines to develop a sense of stability and order, they should be regular, predictable, and consistent. Children are reassured that the world is a safe place.

Which brings me to an overlooked point: Routines keep everyone’s stress level low. Routines can bring you and your child closer together and reduce power struggles. Because the child, and other family members, know what to expect, stress and anxiety are reduced. No need for frenzy! It is also a reliable framework to get things done.

In addition routines and rituals help you ease into parenthood. The early stages of becoming a parent can be overwhelming. Introducing routines and continuing rituals can help. As always, be kind to yourself. Work toward consistency but make room for flexibility.


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