Why wouldn’t you want to make life as struggle free as possible? While there will certainly be struggles, why not establish a structure and routine that flows more easily?
That’s our goal: A more easeful daily routine for the whole family.
More easeful routines are best achieved by creating a world where daily actions, routines, and responsibilities are completed without the need for daily decision-making, without the need for reminding, nagging, or prodding, and without the need for continued monitoring.
In other words, it’s about making daily routines automatic so that little thought goes into the choice because these are habituated, practiced, and automatically rewarded. But let’s first consider what most of us do.
What Not to Do: Constant Management of Routines
Here’s the secret to stressful routines: Make daily routines flexible and make decisions on the fly, view each day as unique and requiring constant problem solving, and then negotiate and try to appease everyone. While it seems easy and natural to do, your misery and stress are guaranteed.
Such routines are filled with thought, worry, prodding, and pushing. Mom or Dad are relentlessly doing the heavy lifting to get everything done. In this model, consider the amount of mental effort required when daily routines are not adequately structured, and each activity requires a decision AND parental input to make it happen.
Automatic Routines Produce Success!
1. Children thrive with structure.
Children flourish in an environment where there’s a certainty. In my studies, finding research that would suggest otherwise is virtually impossible. Behaviorally, academically, and emotionally, children do their best when there are consistent, clear routines that remain relatively unchanging. This sense of certainty is soothing psychologically and brings ease to children and teens.
2. Children blossom in predictable environments.
There is comfort and security in living with daily expectations that create predictability. Children KNOW when things will happen. This is reassuring and calming and promotes security.
While children involved in chaotic and out-of-control family systems often rebel at the initial signs of structure and routine, they quickly adjust, and their behavior is better. With this adjustment also comes an emotional calm. Children often report that life is more manageable after experiencing a consistent structure and routine.
3. Consistent routines remove decision-making, discussion, and negotiation.
The lack of wasted energy and time is the true advantage of consistent structure and routine. Daily decision-making of everyday items is non-existent. “YOU DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THE SMALL STUFF.”
Research suggests that we awaken with limited resources for quality decision-making. If we waste those resources on the ‘small stuff,’ we have limited resources available for important decisions.
When effective in establishing the habits that bring success, the research would suggest that the “decision” has already been made before the event: No thought and no energy wasted. This relieves a level of demand upon our system and ensures success. In essence, the events have been “pre-decided.” A level of automatic action evolves, eliminating the stress of making a decision. This is what we strive to create in the home.
Thought-LESS or Automatic Routines
By “Thought-LESS” routines, I am referring to a way of parenting that does not involve constantly thinking and evaluating what kids need to do next. Instead, routines are automatic. Both children and parents surrender to a structure that allows for the fundamental responsibilities to be addressed without any discussion, argument, or waste of brainpower. Instead, these occur effortlessly.
The result: More time is available to discuss things of fundamental importance to the family. Little time is put into managing homework routines, for example, and instead, families dialogue about what is being learned in school.
Little time is spent getting the children to the table to eat; instead, meaningful discussion occurs about life events. Little time is spent arguing over morning or bedtime routines, and more significant opportunity is available for simply spending quality time with children.
Do you have a sense of how this works? When routines become consistent and predictable, relatively little discussion or dialogue goes into completing these fundamental responsibilities that we all must take care of. If children learn to do this, their minds are free from the struggle with the daily “stuff” of everyday life. They don’t waste their lives battling the fact that they must do homework, even though they may not like it. They get it done.
This is a formula for success. This is a formula for making life easy. This formula is for staying healthy, emotionally strong, and focused on what’s truly important. When working with our families doing Neurofeedback, for example, we find the successful management of daily routines essential in the formula for remarkable success in changing the habits and emotions of anxious, frustrated, angry, over-active, and unfocused children. To learn more about our forward-focused change models, check out CapitalDistrictNeurofeedback.com.