There are three ways to use the new PKR:

  1. Browse and click on color-coded boxes that appear as if by magic as you scroll down.
  2. Click on a category for all the ParenTips under that particular category.
  3. Go to the Site Map (link) for an:
    • a) alphabetical list of all ParenTips.
    • b) A list of all 8 categories with every ParenTip in that category listed alphabetically.

Or mix and match! Have fun as you get the information you need!

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I titled one ParenTip in my book: “Predictable Routines and Creative Surprises.”

Babies and children need routines in their lives. The “work” of babies and children is to make sense of their world and this task is a lot easier if they have order in their lives and know what to expect.

We all know that life can be messy, chaotic, and unpredictable. Parents today are busier than ever because our lives have become so complex. Most of us are “over-connected.” We are tethered to gadgets that constantly demand our attention.

Children need our attention, too. And they need us to use our adult skills and knowledge to create an environment in which they can thrive as they grow and develop.

Lack of routines can actually harm children. One recent study showed that children who do not have a daily routine…no regular bedtimes or meals…do worse at school. Over 2000 teens and adults were questioned about their home life and grades. Those with poorer grades reported that they grew up without a scheduled bedtime and did not have regular mealtimes. Those who reported they “lacked structure and direction” when growing up, also reported they felt less confident than their peers.

Another study measured sleep patterns in toddlers. If toddlers missed one nap they were crankier, more anxious, and less interested in what was going on around them. Parents have known this for millennia but this study filmed facial expressions finding that when the toddlers were tired they were significantly less positive in their response when they successfully completed a puzzle and significantly more stressed by an unsolvable task.

Folk wisdom and science agree that the best way to raise children is in a household that schedules regular meals, naps, and bedtimes. Hungry and tired children are not happy (and not fun to be with).

How can busy parents create such a household? Plan ahead. Write both routine things like when to leave for school and special things like a doctor appointment on a family calendar. No need to be overly rigid…of course you can delay supper if Grandma calls and want to talk to everybody.

If I were parenting today I would block out the following on the family calendar. 1) FAMILY READING time when you read your children and they read to you. Fifteen to thirty minutes a night is great but if your family is too busy to read together every night, block out family reading two or three times a week on the calendar–and keep the appointments! 2) A FAMILY MEETING. We use meetings at work to communicate, check in with each other, and plan for the future. Families need to do these things too. The meeting should answer questions like: Is everybody satisfied with how things are going? Does anyone have any problems? What are the plans for next week? 3) Family DO-NOTHING time. My favorite way to do nothing together is to sit on the patio at dusk, tip heads back and watch the stars pop out. Scheduling do-nothing gives the message to children that it’s OK to relax, daydreaming is permissible, and that even the busiest of schedules can be slowed down once in a while.

Don’t let your family life become too routine. Think of creative ways to build occasional SURPRISES into your family’s daily activities. A surprise should be unexpected, unpredictable, and rare enough to be exciting. Have a picnic on the living room floor, take a “mystery trip” to a surprise destination, declare an occasional “No-chore Saturday!” (The dirt will wait a week.) One mother told me she used unusual holidays to liven things up: a party to honor Abigail Adams who told her husband, President Adams, not to forget the ladies.