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The Role of Routines

“Just one more chapter, please!” 

This seems to be the latest phrase to be added to our family bedtime routine. Once kids are bathed, teeth are brushed, and PJs are on, they each choose a book and meet us in our bedroom. We all pile up on the bed, get cozy, and read together as we wind down for the night. Lately, the selections include a chapter from Harry Potter for our eight-year-old, and our six-year-old will often pick a book from his current favourite author, Todd Parr. The bedroom is quickly filled with character voices, giggles, and enjoyment from us all – I need to remember to take a pause and truly cherish these moments.

Once stories are done, we each take turns tucking in one of the boys in their beds. Our oldest likes to review the highlights of his day accompanied by hugs and kisses, while our youngest still loves being sung to and snuggled with. The precise and unwavering routine is exactly the same every night, right up to the final ritual speech, “Good night, sweet dreams, I love you”. 

Routines like this one are essential in our family. They help us stay organized and focused on what needs to be done.  Plus, they create dedicated time that we spend together. The repetition and predictability of these routines make parenting a bit easier since everyone knows the expectations. Bedtime is never a fuss and there is no arguing about it.

There is so much in our lives that we have little control over (especially during this ongoing pandemic), so having some regularity and certainty is good for the family. Even on our most unpredictable of days, we try not to waiver from our most sacred routines. It’s these practices that help define what make a family unique; they strengthen family relationships and kids develop a sense of security and belonging. 

So, what makes a good daily family routine?

Good planning: Set clear roles that everyone feels are reasonable and fair. As kids get older, let them have a say as to how the routines evolve.

Repeat often: Make it part of your every day (or every weekday/weekend). Stick to the plan no matter what pops up in your day to emphasize how important the routine is.

Predictability: Keep the routine and the roles the same, every day. It may take some training at first but once the kids have it figured out, routines should run by themselves.


Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.


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