Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Attempting a Routine






















I’m not really a big fan of routine, I think life easily becomes boring when strictly regimented. I much prefer spontaneity and freedom. I like being able to do what I want when I went, but mostly I like getting up when I want. That’s the problem really. I’m not a huge fan of mornings. I didn’t even like mornings in years gone by, when my dad was stood outside the bedroom door holding a vegetarian sausage butty. So it’s not wonder I don’t like breakfasts now that I am woken by a shrieking, hair-pulling, nostril-poking, noisy toddler.

My dislike of mornings combined with the fact that it is usually actually quite easy to convince the toddler to have just another short sleep mean we’re late risers. As in, we-can’t-make-it-to-morning-activities-because-we’re-still-asleep late rises. Of course, that then means that the toddlers naps late, and goes to bed late. This is great for Laurie, because it means he gets to spend some quality time with her every evening when he returns from work. When she was a baby, she stayed with us at all times, only going up to bed when we did. And I liked it like that, and I would do it all over again tomorrow.

But… There are times when I really, really want an evening to myself. To sit down in front of the television, read a book, have a bath, blog, work, clean, talk to the husband without having to raise my voice over the repetitive sound of “Mummy? Mummy? Mummy?” At times it can feel like I don’t really get time to myself. When she naps, I work, when she plays with Laurie, I work. When she finally falls asleep for the evening, I run downstairs as fast as possible and drink all the wine before collapsing in bed.

I read an article last week that said most young children should go to bed between 6 and 7:30pm because that is when their natural body clock tells them it’s time for bed. According to the author, if you miss that window, the child gets a second wind and will fight sleep. This made sense to me because my toddler sometimes looks exhausted before dinner, but is then wide awake a bit later. So, I thought I’d try putting her down earlier to see how it went.

The first night it was a complete success, and she was asleep before 8pm. I WATCHED A WHOLE FILM THAT EVENING. Yes, fellow parents, in that evening, no I did not have to stretch it out over a whole week. I watched it from start to finish. I even HAD AN OPINION about the film at the end, because I wasn’t so exhausted I couldn’t concentrate/keep my eyes open/stop myself drinking all the wine.

I have been attempting the early bedtime for almost a week now with varying degrees of success. Some nights she is out like a light, and others she wants to stay up and play. I am (attempting to be) relaxed about it. If she isn’t tired, that’s fine, there is always time to read more books or for more play (with Laurie though, because I’m downstairs drinking all the wine and nursing my shattered nerves while gazing longingly at Netflix).

The only way to try to encourage an early bedtime, is to make sure she’s well and truly exhausted from her daytime activities. So, we now have a schedule (sort of), an activity for each morning of the week. Some days we have visitors, and others we attend groups. This means we get up every day, even if we didn’t all go to sleep early the night before (I’m looking at you, toddler). So far, I think Ebony is enjoying our new schedule. It’s not too busy, we still have plenty of time to stay home and play jigsaws, but we see the same people every week, and go to the same groups. I know there will be times when she doesn’t want to go, and instead wants to stay home, and that’s fine too, as long as we’re awake and out of bed. It’s not a strict schedule, and I would never want to control everything in crazy detail, I just want to make sure I get out of bed in the morning.

The only negative side to this new lifestyle, is that on some days it means Laurie will be home too late to see the toddler before she goes to bed. But I hope that the early mornings will counter that by allowing them to have breakfast together instead. You know, because the toddler shouting “PORRIDGE! COCONUT OIL! RAISINS!” at someone else once in a while is something I welcome.

Do you have schedules with your kids, or do you just take each day as it comes?

20 comments:

  1. we have a loose schedule. Bedtime is always at 7.30 and we sing this same goofy bedtime song, read two stories, kiss and cuddle ALL his toys and him and then he's really happy to go down at that time. It's great to have the evening together, I guess the flip side is that he is an early riser. We have really struggled to get him to sleep to 6.30 (with wake ups in the night of course!) and most days now he will get to about 6. I'm more of a morning person though so I guess that works for us! It depends what you value more I guess? That lie in the morning or the evening? Or what kind of person Ebony is!Wilf is very much a morning person! I do really like having that time to ourselves though so it's a good compromise. Good luck with the bedtime changes! x

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    1. Goofy bedtime song? That's a blog post in itself right there... I'm definitely not a morning person but perhaps I'll adjust x

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  2. Raafeh sleeps late and wakes late. I like it as I get a lie in and hubby can help out in evenings. I know this won't last long so going to keep it like this for as ling as poss...I'm like u love my sleep and end up missing morning groups lol

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    1. Haha, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I always loved that Ebony slept late with me, but now she has so much energy I feel we don't get enough daylight hours for her to run around in. Maybe in summer I'll get another lie in! x ps, I love that husbands can help out in the evening, that's why it's so lovely, they don't miss out and we don't go crazy x

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  3. I say we have routine but that is only set meal times really. Little Miss goes to bed around 6-7pm mainly we put her down whenever she's tired. Also not a fan of mornings but my partner is so I lucked out with him!

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    1. Ah very wise, I should have considered this when choosing a mate x

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  4. I hate routines too! I do have a rough one though in that J has a nap in the morning and afternoon but the times vary and then bedtime is between 6-7 depending on when he's napped. Then Cherry goes to bed whenever she's tired but never later than 8pm. I need that time to relax! x

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    1. Yes I think I need the time too, fingers crossed it works out! x

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  5. I was always against routines but we just fell into one, there was no point feeding on demand when every day he cried at the same times for food, just get the bottle ready before the crying, even the few weeks I breast fed it was roughly the same times. We had an early bedtime from a few months old (we read the same thing as you) and it really helped, especially as he was an awful napper and exhausted by 6. Nowadays our routine is similar to you, getting out to do something daily, lots of fresh air and in bed around 7. At the moment things are a bit odd as he's taking an hour to go to sleep and sleeping later, I think we might need to week things even though it pains me as I want to be led by him, but I also want my evening!

    Totally get your excitement about the film, a few months ago we not only watched a film in one evening but had a takeaway at the same time, a hot, freshly delivered one, not one tha had to be reheated as bedtime took longer than expected.

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    1. A hot take away? What is the luxury of which you speak?...

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  6. I'm not a fan of schedules and routines either! It took me a while to realise that having a routine didn't have to mean Gina Ford though...ours evolved fairly naturally into bedtime at 7.30 (it's usually 8ish though as we can be quite slack, and it means Alex will get some time with E). We are generally quite relaxed, and if she's not sleepy then we'll bring her back through for a while. Struggling this month though, as we don't have nursery place until Feb so I'm working in the evenings - and she just does not want to go to bed at the moment. Arghh x.

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    1. That's the problem I have, it's such hard work. It's hard to remember they're not doing it to be evil when you have work calling downstairs. Good luck x

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  7. I am so not into schedules and routines generally but after realising what a difference it makes to life with a toddler, man, I'm sold. It's loose and we can change things but, in general, T really thrives on knowing what's going to happen and when. I love that bedtime gives us time on our own. I'm going to miss that the most when the new baby comes!

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    1. Yes, I've found the same. I think it was great to have no routine with her as a baby, but now the routine is helping definitely. Ah you will be too busy staring adoringly at your tiny newborn to miss evenings ;) x

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  8. I resisted routine for a while but it was the only way to persuade Eleanor to nap at all, without dedicated nap time she would stay awake all day and be a temperamental MESS by early evening. We start the bedtime routine at 7pm but she generally doesn't go to sleep until about 8.30pm - and at the moment is waking at 5.30am. I'm hoping this will improve because we're both overtired!! We still have times of the day when Eleanor can do what she likes so we're not over-strict about it.

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    1. I hope you get a full night of sleep soon. I would hate an early rise, I'm truly terrible in the morning x

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  9. We have a loose routine, in as much as Daniel goes to bed around 7pm, earlier if he needs it or a little later if he is wide awake. We have playgroups on Monday and Friday and Jo Jingles on a Thursday but time either side and other days are for us to do as we please etc, which will be even more important as Daniel can start to tell me what he wants to do.

    Some routine is good, but I couldn't be doing with scheduled nap times etc. I like the flexibility our current set up brings xx

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    1. No I couldn't cope with scheduled naps either.. although it would be nice if Ebony was at least a little more predictable in that area. I hate not knowing when she will sleep! x

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  10. Unfashionably, we've always had a routine. I think the pathological aversion to them among some circles is because people confuse a flexible routine with a Gina Ford-style schedule as Gill describes. I've heard stories about parents frantically trying to comfort a screaming, starving baby because 'the book says he can't eat again for another hour' - I think this is where the looking down on routines comes from. Obviously routines are only a guide, and have to be flexible. But that doesn't mean to have one is bad or removes spontaneity!

    Regardless of how we feel about routines, we all have them whether we realise it or not. We tend to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at around the same time most days, get up at around the same time, go to bed at around the same time, watch the same programmes on TV each week, read the same newspapers, visit the same websites and so on. Humans are creatures of habit, it's innate.

    All research and evidence, scientific and anecdotal, shows it's best for children to have a routine that follows their natural rhythms. It's very different to following some set-in-stone schedule that's been written by somebody who has never met your child, to make money.

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  11. Agreed, that's what I'm hoping we'll manage - to follow her natural rhythms, just hoping we can get them working out. And yes, my aversion to routines is definitely based on Gina Ford! x

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