Oh, the joys of setting in place new routines to your family’s day. It’s probably one of my least favourite things to do. I often procrastinate this process, just to prolong the inevitable teeth pulling and digging in of heels. Just trying to figure out when to fit it into your already busy day is a task on its own. I always have high hopes and good intentions, many ideas come right out of Christian parenting books, yet they always get met with reservation and strife. Sometimes, I’m clearly the cause of the routines not going as planned- either I’m ill prepared or undisciplined. Other times, my expectations are set too high for my young family to meet. Some days, I’m left feeling like a failure, like there isn’t enough grace to cover over my lack of patience and frustration. Thank goodness, our God is so compassionate and understanding; that His grace never runs out and fills to over flowing.
My desire lately has been to model my relationship with God to my boys. I want to ensure that I’m purposefully creating opportunities for my boys to see me in the Word and leaning on Him. My goal was to establish a morning routine where we read His Word, memorize Scripture and pray. I’ve been putting this off for quite some time as I just wasn’t sure where to start and felt overwhelmed to fit it into my day.
Back at the beginning of April, I attended the Alberta home school conference. It was such an informative and insightful event. I came out feeling energized and eager to begin home learning. Karla Canon, a guest speaker, spoke on the topic of Morning Time Baskets. She established this routine with her own three young children and began with 5-10 minutes. Over the course of time, they have added to their routine and now it is a much-anticipated part of their day. In her morning time basket, she puts a variety of literature, such as, a children’s Bible, poetry, picture books, read aloud, nature studies, music appreciation, Shakespeare and more. She reads a page or two from each book, rather than reading through everything in it’s entirety. This concept made so much sense to me. It was completely the opposite of my mentality. When I go into things, I like to start them from beginning to end, but the problem with this, especially with young children, is that they are too overwhelmed. I set myself up for failure by continuing to establish routines in this way.
It was apparent right away that the morning basket would be the perfect opportunity for me to introduce a family devotion. I have been searching for a family devotion that would work well for my young family. Earlier in the week, I decided to check out our local Christian bookstore and came across one called, Experiencing God at Home Day-By-Day, by Tom Blackaby and Rick Osbourne. It has 50 weeks of devotions and special occasion devotions at the back that you can add into your week if a celebration arises. I love that they have devotions for 6 days of the week, which allows for flexibility in case things arise or our day doesn’t go according to plan. Each week has a theme either based on a character from the Bible or important Biblical themes.
We have just completed our first week and it has gone relatively well. The devotion takes about 10 minutes, which is just long enough for my boys to sit through. They love getting their Bibles out of the basket in the morning and bringing them to the kitchen table to read through. They follow along in their Bibles as best they can with the stories that I read from my version. It’s been such a great experience for them to see and hear from my Bible too. It opens up great discussion with my two oldest boys and allows us to dig deeper into God’s Word.
The first few days had their hiccups. The boys argued over which Bible they would use and didn’t quite follow along. As the week continued on, I had to remind them less and less to bring their Bible to the table. They began searching through it to select their favourite Bible story to read at the end together. It became something they anticipated rather than dreading. I’m hopeful that this routine is one that I will maintain as I can already see the benefits and blessings it holds for my family. As the children become more familiar and comfortable with this routine, I look forward to adding additional literature to our morning time basket.
Yes, routines can be hard, but they are worth it in the end, especially those that bring us and our children near to God. So, what steps can we take to successfully establish routines into our family? Well, here are 6 ways that I have learned to take before implementing any routine into our day:
1. Pray- This is probably one of the most important steps of all, yet I often forget to do it. Taking the time to stop and pray with God to guide your day and routine is key to success. Ask Him what He has planned for your family. Ask Him to be involved every step of the way. Ask Him for patience and kindness when establishing routines. Ask that He will soften everyone’s hearts so they are open and eager to participate.
2. Seek Advice- I encourage you to speak with other Christian friends around you about their routines. What routines work best for them? What materials or resources did they use? What does the routine look like in their family? Don’t hesitate to find out how long it took them to get into a groove. Having realistic expectations to go off of will help set you up for success.
3. Schedule- This is another important step to ensuring a smooth transition. Take time to sit down and look over your daily schedule and determine where the routine best fits into your day. The timing of your routine will depend on many factors like the age of your children, work schedules, school, extracurricular activities and so on. You may choose a time that you think would work best, but don’t be discouraged if things just don’t work out. It may take you a few tries before you find the best fit for your family.
4. Set Realistic Expectations- This one is my stumbling block. I set my expectations too high and expect immediate success. Sit down and write out your expectations. Take some time to mull over them and come back to them at a later date. You may want to discuss your expectations with your spouse or a friend who can give you some valuable insight or help you adjust your expectations if need be.
5. Start Small- Remember, start small, then work your way up. You will have better success with establishing your routine if you plan to implement small parts each day or even each week. Trying to establish your routine fully on day one will often leave you feeling frustrated.
6. Ask for Grace- There will be days, when things do not go as planned or seem to fall short. It’s easy to become frustrated and impatient. We must remember to stop and ask for grace. There is always another time or another day to try again.
If you have been struggling to establish routines into your day, I encourage you to try these steps out. The Lord longs for us to be near to Him and to raise godly children. He will be with us every step of the way. Above all, remember His grace is enough, tomorrow is a new day.
SHARE: What routine do you want to establish in your family? What has been holding you back?