The Magic of Both Routine and Surprise
Life with kids can feel like a teeter-totter with all its ups and downs. In a way, that’s part of the magic. And parents needs to be magicians to balance both routine and surprise.
Grownups think of routine as humdrum, a rut, stale, and boring but to children having a routine is like a security blanket. Kids rely on routines for a sense of security and comfort. They are more confident when they know what to expect and can predict what will happen. Clues are embedded in routines and kids can use what they know about a routine to prepare for what’s coming next.
Routines are also a factor in setting our biological clocks, supporting healthy relationships, learning language, lowering stress and anxiety, regulating emotions and physical development. In a way routines are green–they are energy efficient.
On the other hand, or the other end of the teeter-totter, there’s surprises, events that are unpredictable and spontaneous. Not always, but certainly some of the time, these can be delightful and remarkable.
Our family has a wonderful memory of one day when my husband was driving the kids and me and dropping us off. We were supposed to be doing some shopping and other errands. Instead,the car pulled into the zoo parking lot. He still says that he was surprised too but the car just did it. We did have fun!
Some surprise ideas could be: having supper left-overs at breakfast and pancakes at suppertime, enjoying a picnic in the living room, hiding a silly new toy in a shoe, putting on a swimsuit to run out in the rain one day when it’s not too cold, reading a book starting at the end, giving the kids mittens to wear to pick up their toys, and other silly little ideas.
Routines and surprises are more fun and magical when life isn’t all routine or all surprise. How do you balance them for your child?