The no-routine routine
In all honesty, the everyday pattern of family life can be tedious. Here’s how we put a spin on it.
This week, my eldest expressed extreme frustration over ‘having to do the same thing, over and over again.’

Um. Welcome to my world.

School mornings can be revoltingly tedious. They start at 5.30 with me making the sandwiches I should have made the night before, filling the lunchboxes with healthy(ish) snacks, packing away last night’s dishes and downing a cup of coffee. If I’m lucky, I get to do all this in silence until 6am when the horde wakes up and descend on me.

The horde (or Thing 1, 2 and 3, as I like to call them) have to be reminded how to behave every morning. It’s as if, each day, they wake up to a new and unfamiliar world. Look! It’s breakfast! Oh! It’s to be eaten! Gee! A uniform! Oh! I’m supposed to wear it! Golly! A toothbrush! Oh! I should use it to clean my teeth!

But who am I to question this little foible of theirs? So every morning, I sing the same song: ‘Have you brushedyourteethtidiedyourroommadeyourbedpackedyourbags?’

Apparently, this is very frustrating, especially for Thing 1. Being told to do the same thing over and over is boring, says he.

My sardonic, Evil Mom side wants to snap back: ‘It’s not a bad life, son. Tidying up your room for all of 3 minutes per day isn’t what we’d generally classify as suffering.’ But the caring, Sensitive Mom side wants to conjure up a work-around to this little problem. Surely there’s a less dreary way of getting through the morning routine that doesn’t involve the same-old mom song?

The internet is distinctly unhelpful here. Routines are good for children, they say. Routines help build independence. They give children a sense of security.

Ok, seems I really have to get creative here.

Making routine fun

  • The key to making routine fun is to stop the nagging. I say the same things over and over and hardly ever get a response. And yet I keep saying them. Einstein would argue that this is insanity. I couldn’t agree more.
  • About 2 months ago, I changed the morning routine completely. Where Thing 1, 2 and 3 used to have breakfast as soon as they woke up, we switched to getting dressed first. Where they used to watch TV while they had breakfast, now the TV isn’t switched on in the morning. The change served to liven things up for a while and we seemed to get everything done much faster.
  • How about morning routine games? Capitalising on children’s natural competitiveness by turning getting dressed or putting clothes away into a race. I’ve tried this on occasion and it works like a charm.
  • A friend uses a picture chart. She printed pictures of morning duties, like brushing teeth and making beds, and pasted them onto magnets. When something has been done, the child moves the magnet to the ‘done’ space. It’s a treat watching them running up and down the stairs to move the magnets once they’ve completed a task.

I know. Some things in life are just plain boring, and I can’t shield Things 1 through 3 from all routine. But if there’s fun to be had in the midst of the tedium, then I’m all for finding it.

How do you make routine tasks fun?

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