Family Routines

How many of you have a family routine?

How many of you have a routine? I’m willing to bet you have at least one routine. You might have a particular breakfast, lunch, or dinner time. You might have a certain movie watching time or a specific day when you go out to eat at a restaurant. Maybe you take your dog out for a walk at the same time everyday. Routines keep us grounded, which can be extremely beneficial during times of change, such as a worldwide pandemic.35 We know family routines can keep us grounded, but can they protect our mental health in times of crisis?

According to one research paper, yes! Although the pandemic has lead to a deterioration of children’s mental health, the researchers found that family routines can be, what they called, a “resilience promoting factor” with the potential to mitigate these effects on mental health.30 Indeed, children’s health and well-being is dependent on the health and well-being of the family unit. This dependency may be even more pronounced in the context of the pandemic.28 With so many unexpected changes, children can be easily overwhelmed, which can harm their mental health. Conceivably, reduced access to external support systems (e.g., peers, teachers, friends, etc.) can exacerbate the issue.

There are many reasons why family routines may be so important to children’s mental health. For example, parental mental health, parenting efficacy, behavior monitoring, family cohesion, and child sleep, all influence a child’s mental health, and are all likely to be bolstered by family routines.29 So there you have it. Family routines, whether you hate them or not, can be very advantageous for your mental health. So please, next time your parents try to create a new routine, don’t complain....it’s good for you.