If there’s any month that brings talk about routine, it’s September. Whether you’re welcoming the first weeks of a new school year or saying your goodbyes to summer, or both, you’ve likely been giving some thought to how your days are shaping up. And that’s where routine, a sequence of actions regularly followed, comes in. We all need them, especially when sensory processing, sequencing, motor planning, motor control, executive function, language or anxiety are challenging for ourselves or a family member.
Routines can be beneficial or problematic. They can form naturally as we find, repeat, and build upon behavioral patterns that help us reach our goals, or they can be deliberately developed. Routines are of benefit to mind and body in many ways.
Here’s a dozen ways in which routines are helpful:
1. Routines provide regularly recurring stimulation you can count on.
2. They provide stability and regularity or steadiness.
3. They are a way in which activity is ordered in time and space.
4. Successful routines ease the stress of transitions.
5. They are comforting.
6. They help automate actions over the course of repetition.
7. They link related activities.
8. Established routines save time and promote efficiency for activities that are performed daily.
9. Routines reduce motor planning (praxis) demands associated with novelty or unfamiliarity.
10. Routines reduce the need for decision making related to everyday tasks
11. They promote mastery and independence.
12. They free us up for creative thought and action.
–Sheila Allen, MA, OT