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?

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