It’s difficult to argue with all of the evidence indicating people live less stressful lives when they have a routine. It might be a hectic routine, but having some predictable plan takes away the element of surprise. Some people do enjoy a more spontaneous lifestyle and that’s fine when they are in control of their lives and adults.
Most children do very well when they live in a home with a well-established routine. Knowing when and where meals are eaten and having some kind of a mealtime ritual provides a sense of belonging to something bigger then just who we are as individuals. In our home we have meal routines, we add variety and we add the feeling of spontaneity by picking a night to call “Out to Eat” night. Everyone in our family understands that dinner is at 6:00 p.m. and while sitting at the table there will be talk about the day we had.
Adoptive parents who are able to make life routine from transition and for a long period of time offer their children the chance to develop the feeling of security. Especially, for an older infant, or child a consistent routine will eventually help a child feel safe and not worry about survival issues. Many children may have experienced true hunger or gone long periods without food. These children benefit tremendously when they have families who are able to establish healthy eating routines. Overtime, children become secure knowing when to expect the next food. Children can let go of the stress around food issues when they live in a family with routine.
With our adopted siblings we worked very hard to establish what some people might consider to be a very ridged routine. We were insistent that our children have a goodnight ritual including baths and bedtime stories. Our children quickly learned what to expect every night, and what was going to happen next. This reduced stress and conflict sometimes there were arguments with Makala our five year old at the time of placement. Early on, she might be inclined to argue about the next step in our routine. She might suggest that we had promised her something else. Overtime, however she came to adjust to the routine we do every single night and understands that no promises were made that we forgot about.
We have held the same routines of daily life for the past three years! Our family is about to face the biggest change we have since Makala and Jeremiah were placed. We are getting ready to move to a new home, in a new state with a new routine. Makala is now eight-years-old and together we are creating our House Rules for the new home. Families who adopted much older children and teenagers have learned the value of involving the children with House Rules. The next Blog entry will discuss some of the things I have learned about the value of House Rules and Attachment Parenting.