Routine route to happiness?

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“I try to have a routine that considers their naps and mealtimes, in an ideal world, whatever that is,” says blogger Luddite Lass, whose sons are both under the age of five. “When our routine goes haywire we’re more likely to have a bad hair day.”

She is among the majority of parents who’ve found that routine works for younger children. According to the Parent24 2009 survey, children under the age of 7 are less likely to be rated difficult than non-routine children. For teens, similar trends apply. Children of all ages with a routine were more likely to be rated very happy than those without one.

A high percentage (around 70%) of children aged 1-3, 7-9, 10-12, 13-17 and 18+ is said to have a set daily routine. In babies (under 1) and 4 – 6 year olds, this is slightly lower at around 65%.

Dr Melodie de Jager, author of BabyGym and Mind Moves believes these parents have the right idea: “Routine brings order. It creates a rhythm that gets everybody marching to the same drum – meaning that it reduces potential conflict when stuff that occurs daily is dealt with in a ‘pre-arranged manner’ (routine). Routine creates order and security leaving time and energy to debate and argue the small stuff.”

One puzzling result is that children aged 7 to 12 with a routine were more likely to be rated difficult than those of the same age who didn’t. Yet they were most likely of all to have a routine. One possible explanation is that changing needs make it harder to enforce a routine at this age. But as with other children, those of this age with a routine were most likely to be rated very happy.

Do you believe routines lead to happiness? What are the mainstays of your child’s routine?

The Parent24 2009 survey had more than 8000 responses. The survey, weighted by gender, race and education, represents approximately 7 million metropolitan adults educated to the level of at least matric, across South Africa. For more about the methodology and for results analysis by Jean Redpath and Michael O’Donovan of Hlakanaphila Analytics, download the Parent24 2009 survey PDF. Or see full results.
 
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