The Science of Parenting

Guilt Free Routines | Bonus

April 14, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
The Science of Parenting
Guilt Free Routines | Bonus
Chapters
The Science of Parenting
Guilt Free Routines | Bonus
Apr 14, 2020
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Transcript
Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. I'm Mackenzie Johnson , parent of two littles with their own quirks, and I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Hayungs:

And I'm Lori Hayungs, parent of three, and I'm also a parenting educator. So today we are going to talk about routines and truth be told, I was hoping that McKenzie would not ask me to do a bonus episode on routines right now during COVID-19. But to be honest, I wouldn't have wanted to do a mini episode on routines anyway because, yeah, we'll get into that. But here we are. We're going to do it? She did ask.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, I did ask and she said, okay, only if I can be really honest. And I said, you are all the reality, share it all.

Lori Hayungs:

It's going to be Lori's reality, people.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes . So it was interesting coming up with this podcast content because you know, our last bonus episode was on rituals and so actually rituals and routines are very closely tied in the research and so we're going to hear a little bit of things that sound similar from the rituals to the routines. So learning about routines, what they are and stuff like that. Should we just dive right in? Here we go. Go for it. Go for it . All right , I'm ready. So our first tidbit is a research definition of understanding routines. I kinda like this one from 1984. It's really simple. Routines are just patterned interactions that are repeated over time. So that's kind of the short and sweet version, right ? Yeah. Like the things that we do regularly are routines. But a more recent literature review dives in a little bit deeper and like rituals, there's three important characteristics that define a routine. The first is that it's instrumental, which means that the focus is on conveying information. Basically it's the stuff that just needs to be done. I like that. The stuff that just needs to be done is characteristic number one. Number two, it's perfunctory and momentary. So basically it involves only a momentary time commitment and once it's completed, little, if any afterthought is given to it versus rituals, right? Rituals were about like they might think back on them and reflect on them. Routines we just do; we don't give it a lot of thought. We just got to do it.

Lori Hayungs:

We just got to do. Okay. Got it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And then the third one is that it's observable so other people could see what it is because it's repeated over time and it's defined by its continuities. That's something that you do regularly.

Lori Hayungs:

Okay. So the three, just got to do something that is kind of over when you're done with it and other people can see it. Yup . Okay. Got it. All right , so some examples would be things like meal time . You've got to do it, once it's over, you know, and people can see it. Bedtime chores, how about that? Things like watching television or even connecting with relatives. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So whatever, like the regular stuff that's repeated over time that you're doing continually. And yeah, like bedtime. I'm looking forward to my bedtime, not necessarily looking forward to the kids. Well, I am looking forward to my kids' bedtime but for a different reason. But it's just like, it's just gotta be done. Right. It's a routine, you know, getting out the door to get to childcare in our house. That would be a regular routine for us. So what about for you? What are in the midst of what's going on with COVID-19, what are maybe some of your regular routines or maybe even ones that are kind of disrupted right now?

Lori Hayungs:

So, this is where I think that I bring in a lot of guilt and shame throughout my parenting career is because I know as an early childhood educator, as a parenting educator, that routines can be important for children. And so I would say that I probably spent a lot of time in those first few years, handful of years, maybe dozen of years thinking, I'm not good enough at routines. I'm not doing routines right enough because routines for us, I mean, maybe we didn't do the same bedtime routine every single night and maybe we just got it done three times during that week and I would have a lot of guilt about, oh, we didn't do it seven out of seven days this week. You know, whether that was , you know, having a bath before bed or three stories or no stories or, you know, whatever that routine is, brushing teeth . So I think that that was my fear of doing this podcast is just to be able to say, gosh, but I've had so much guilt over the years about not having perfect routines. So that's a loaded question.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, that makes sense. And sometimes we have those things that we mark off on our own kind of checklist of like, I'm an effective parent if. And sometimes those are society-affected checklist. But sometimes they're self created too like, well, if I'm not doing this. And we absolutely don't want anybody listening to think that that's how we feel. We think that routines are a tool we can use. It's part of what's in our toolbox. But I hope you don't feel like that anymore.

Lori Hayungs:

When we were talking about it . That word you just used . Well, this is something for your toolbox . This is something for your toolbox. And I think that your next research bullet, if I'm just going to segue us right into there, is part of where I landed to help me not feel so guilty about not having 100% perfect routines all the time throughout the last 22 and a half years. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. Okay. So let's do it. Let's do number two. So this is from Fiese and Colleagues. So you might remember that name from our last bonus episode. But basically Fiese tell us that routine practices follow a developmental course of increasing frequency during early childhood and school years. But as kids become more competent, they're more actively involved in their family routines. So it's kind of like the synopsis and then they gave us some examples. All right? Ready for the examples? So with infancy, parents have nearly all the responsibility for routine care. Hey, hello, that's me living that life, right? I give the baths , change the diapers, do all the feedings, lay down for naps. Okay. But during preschool and early school years, parents and children need begin to negotiate and make compromises around routine activities like bedtime. All right ? So when the preschool and school age, they start to negotiate a little more, have a little more control there. And then from early school years to the early teen years, there's an increase in the number of routine self care activities for which kids are deemed responsible. Right? So as your kids get older, there's a different kind of routine, right? The routines I carry out with my infant are a different level of responsibility there. And even how strongly I feel tied to that routine looks different for my infant, than my preschooler. And then I imagine as your kids get older, right?

Lori Hayungs:

True. You know the steps. Go take care of the steps. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So as kids get older, routines look different. For sure.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. And I think that's where I began to feel less guilty about routines because yeah, I did take care of the routines and I did, you know, we did have a pattern albeit sometimes it was a spontaneous pattern. I don't know if we were at the grandparents or if we weren't at home or you know, if I had been out teaching that night, you know, the routines look different and feel different when someone else does them, right? But as the children grow, they do take responsibility for some of those routines. And the key to that is those routines may not look like how you did the routine. So it might be taking on the routine, and the routine may be evolving and it may be morphing into how they see the routine happening. Maybe what you always did as step three of the routine, it feels more comfortable to them to have in step five. And you know what, that's great. That's great. That's totally fine. Well, and as I think about it, you know, lots of us have our kids home with us right now - our school aged kids or teenage kids, or college kids. You know, and so that routine as we think about it, it's not necessarily just about a schedule. I think sometimes people use those terms like interchangeably. But here the research is really talking about the definition of what's ongoing and regular for you. There's not only one right way to do a routine and it's not really a 30 increment kind of thing. If a schedule helps you keep your sanity and is great for your kids who like consistency, do it. Do that up. No judgment, right, no judgment. A schedule is another tool.

Mackenzie Johnson:

A schedule is a different tool from a routine. So I think it's important to understand that. And we know that our routines are influenced by a lot of different things, right? So like my natural temperament. Am I a pretty routine person or not. My co-parent's natural temperament. My kids' temperament. The amount of resources we have in our family, right? Even on nights I teach versus nighttime home routine looks different. So there's so many factors that every family has to consider in their own routines.

Lori Hayungs:

You brought up the idea that right now there's maybe more people in your house and you're not going out doing the things that you used to do. They're not going out and doing the things that they used to do. So there's this pressure that we feel from outside essentially to create more routines. Or we're using that word interchangeably with schedule and essentially what we do at Science of Parenting is we're going to pull the resources, send the research for you, share it with you so that you can say this is the piece that works best for us. And right now, if you are feeling just this heavy, heavy pressure to work a routine that was posted on social media, and it hurts you physically to do that, then you've got to stop.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Give yourself permission.

Lori Hayungs:

It's okay to not have that particular piece work for your family right now. A-okay.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I'm so glad you said that because our third research bullet, we look at a little bit of some of what the research tells us about routines and what they're associated with, but everyone's routine is different and that's okay. So as we talk about the benefits, remember we're not saying that this is the only way to do it, right. Okay. So again, according to that literature review by Fiese and Colleagues , predictable routines are associated with parental competence, child health, parent-child harmony, and academic achievement, and routines are associated with family organization, family wellbeing and family adaptation. So it does show that there can be benefits for having routines , right? Even simple ones, I know from my Monday versus my Tuesday versus my Thursday a nd Fridays, y ou k now, whatever day, looks very different in my house. But we try to follow a general thing for routine for bedtime or for m eal t ime, you know? A nd s o it's like, yeah, those can be beneficial. But there's a b ut in this bullet, t he second half. So the authors also caution us from assuming causality, which is, in other words, basically research doesn't know yet if it's easier for parents who feel competent to come up with routines or if regular routines help parents feel competent. So we don't know which direction that goes. It could just be that families that have an easier schedule, right? Or they also talk about that they recognize that kids have an impact on routines. Some kids naturally settle into a routine easier. So we don't know exactly what it is, but we know that kids have an impact on it. There can be benefits to having it as a tool in your toolbox. Right. And that routines can be used as rituals, right? T hey can create meaning over time when you come to t hem. But yeah, there's more than one right way, there's not necessarily even a right way. There's more than one way to get these kinds of benefits.

Lori Hayungs:

I love that we keep being able to come back around to that. You know, it might be that we feel more competent and therefore we make more routines or it might be that our routines worked, felt good and now we feel competent. Right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Right. Or they worked because my kid naturally falls into a routine versus with child number two. They did not.

Lori Hayungs:

Yeah. Like I said, I was really worried when she brought this up and I literally kept thinking in the last couple of weeks as I've been watching things, scrolling through social media, you know, here's how to keep a routine. Here's some that you need to need that word. You need to keep doing this with your kids. And I kept thinking, gosh, that hurts me and my kids are older and I don't know that I could. There's no way I could possibly do that. And even seeing, you know, reflections from people who I feel like, man, they are competent. They are competent parents and seeing them feel guilty and badly about things they weren't doing because their children were home with them . And I thought, oh gosh, if only we could reach out. And then I thought, but then the reality is I've got to admit that I'm not good at routines 100% of the time. And so here we are just being real and research also says, yeah , you don't have to be good at it 100% of the time. It's gotta work for your family.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, yes. And I think you bring another great point. And one of the other things that we talked that was in the research is that one of the first things we see when a family's experiencing stress is the disruption of their routines. So if we think about all that is happening in our world right now with COVID-19, our kids aren't in school. Our kids might not be in other, younger kids might not be in childcare. We might not be working or suddenly we're working in a new environment or in a new way or there's so many things going on. And so yeah, routines are a tool we can use, but it's totally understandable, oh, totally understandable. If your routines aren't normal. And we're not saying go fix them. Right? We're not saying you have to go fix them, but if you're feeling some stress and you're looking for a way to kind of feel a little more competent, the research is telling us this is one tool. Developing some routines that feel regular for your family during this new and unfamiliar normal is one way you can try if you feel like it might help.

Lori Hayungs:

And routines aren't schedules, right? Schedules are different, too .

Mackenzie Johnson:

If you only get one thing, routines do not equal schedules. Schedule are great, can be great for people.

Lori Hayungs:

They can be. And I think that the one thing that I felt best about over the last couple of weeks is recognizing that for now, we needed to do one thing. Let's focus on this one thing. So we focused on getting up at the same time. I mean that's what we had to start. One thing . We had to start with that one thing and then we were able to move to the next. But the idea that we had to do all these things, all 65 steps in the midst of all of these unknowns, we couldn't do it. We couldn't do it. And my children are older. I can't imagine having younger children and putting the pressure on myself to do all the things. So picking one thing, one thing in her routine. What's one routine that you can still do? Yeah. And then you feel competent and comfortable with that. Pick another routine, pick another routine. And guess what? If that first routine isn't hitting 100% that's okay. That's totally fine. All right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I do have friends that are home with their young kids that are like, you know what? We are doing this from 8:00 to 9:00. We're doing this from 9:00 to 10:00 and it's helping them thrive. You're developing a schedule using some routines and their schedule, that's helping them. And great, right? Do for you. A stricter routine didn't feel right for other people. Having more of a schedule to follow gave them kind of a sense of, you know, content throughout the day and that's great. Do whatever feels right.

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So actually, usually we have kind of a section we call your reality and so as you think about, okay , I learned this stuff about routines. I heard Lori talk about her reality in routines. So as you think about yourself and knowing that our routines are probably a little disrupted right now, what are the factors you want to consider and where you might use routines as a tool? If you are considering using them to get some of the benefits, some things we thought you might want to think about a re your kids' ages, right? We know it looks different with our littles versus some of our bigger kids. Everyone's natural temperament and flexibility in your house. We're spending lots of time in our house with the people in our house. So a re the people i n your house looking for more flexibility or could use a little more consistency, whatever helps your family feel settled and organized. And then of course your own family resources, which includes things like time, money, energy, and the amount of support you have, right? Sometimes that ability to care for yourself and that time to do that is a luxury. Like it can be a luxury. And so the amount of energy you have is also a factor. So consider what's best for you.

Lori Hayungs:

Definitely. And I love that we were able to draw in that piece about you, like you as the adult. You are an important piece in this and you need to give yourself permission to think about your piece in this.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, and we've talked about it if you were on our live on Stop. Breath. Talk. that we believe at Science of Parenting that our job is to share research based and trustworthy information and you get to use it how it makes sense for your family. You're an expert on your kids and your family in a way that we could never be. And so we do, we will share the information. You decide what's best for you, for sure. So, we did it.

Lori Hayungs:

I think we covered it. I don't feel stressed anymore and I'm glad you talked me into it. So thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast. Remember to subscribe to our weekly audio podcast . You might be watching us. you can listen to us only or maybe you're listening to us and you can watch us as well. We have a video each week and then once a month we go live and these little episodes are a little bonus episode , so just pay attention cause you just never know when we're coming at ya .

Mackenzie Johnson:

So come along with us as we tackle the ins and outs, the ups and downs and the research and reality around. The Science of Parenting. Thanks.

Speaker 2:

The Science of Parenting is a research based education program hosted by Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This program is brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries. Go to www.extension.state.edu/diversity.