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Important to establish routines


The back-to-school ads reminded me that the first priority a teacher has is to establish routines for students.

The younger they are, the more important those routines to help them organize their day and understand the expectations.

By the end of the first week, good teachers have a well-established set of classroom routines, and when students enter the classroom, they are comfortable knowing exactly what is going to happen and exactly what they need to do to be successful.

Fast forward six or seven decades and routines are even more important, only this time it’s not establishing them but maintaining them that is critical.

As I have been adjusting to my role as a caregiver to my elderly parents, I have been sensitive to the household routines they have established for many, many years.

I get up at the same time as they do, eat meals at the times they have always eaten them and retire to bed at the time they do, although, since that is early, I am certainly getting an opportunity to catch up on 30 years of missed reading.

It is routines that build a natural flow in our intellectual and physical processes.

While we can adapt if we have to, or simply wish to, most of us establish routines that work for us.

Early risers get up at the crack of dawn and do 10 things before heading to work.

Late risers get up and stumble out to the car five minutes later to head to work.

We all find a way to work around our natural life rhythms, and when we disrupt them, we feel the affects.

It’s important to understand that the most significant affect of broken routines is an unsettled feeling, often resulting in disrupted sleep and physical exhaustion.

In turn, this leads to a suppression of the immune system and a greater risk of getting sick.

This is true at any age, but more pronounced in young people and elderly people, whose immune systems, generally, are not as fit as a healthy adult.

Whether it is the start of school or the process of caring for the elderly, a consistent routine of sleep and eating patterns is not just a comforting feeling, but an essential element to good health.

Many elderly find stays in the hospital very challenging because they must go with the routines of hospital staff that are often disruptive to normal sleep routines.  Most hospital staff, I’m sure, would agree that the sooner a patient can return to their own home, and their own routines, the sooner they will gain strength and improve their condition.

For those providing care in the homes of the elderly, it is important to understand and be respectful of the timing and routines established by those in their care.

The more our support is an invisible one that blends into their natural rhythm, the more likely that support will create comfort rather than disruption.


Graham Hookey is an educational and parenting writer (