Friday, June 15, 2012


I have to admit I've always been the kind of person who likes a routine.  I realize that probably makes me dull (and if this admission is the first time you've thought I was dull, then I'm shocked), but it is who I am.  I love getting away and doing new things, but on a regular basis I like a fairly predictable life.

As a single person, this probably meant I was "not adventurous enough" and "too rigid."  As the single mother of a toddler, this is freaking AWESOME and the best thing ever and I WIN.

Show me a parent who says their toddler doesn't do well with a routine and I'll show you a parent who's probably not really paying attention to their child.  I am guessing there's an age where routine becomes less critical, but it's certainly not when they're very young.

(I do not consider myself a parenting expert, and I generally don't want to say "this is how you should do things!"  But this particular case is a big whomping exception to that.)

I'm not saying you can't/shouldn't be spontaneous-- that's nuts.  Elle gets a late bedtime or an on-the-go meal every so often.  (Note that I do not mess with The Nap.  Never mess with The Nap, man.  Never.  Unless you are CRAZY and have a DEATH WISH.)  But I strongly believe that young children, with their limited capacity to understand their world and even more limited capacity to control it, respond best to a home life that is structured and predictable.  They may not want a bath, but the fact that a bath is part of their evening routine (most nights, anyway-- ahem.  Don't judge me!) is comforting, understandable, and helps them feel safe.

Most moms I know, and parents I've known, embrace this.  After all, having your child(ren) on a routine means your own life is easier to manage; if you know they go to bed at 8, you know that by 8:15 (hopefully) you can pay your bills or wash your kitchen floor or relax and watch some TV.  But I know at least one family that has never had their daughter on a routine, and while she's a sweet, bright little girl, she is also a holy friggin' terror.  Elle can have some truly monumental meltdowns, but this girl's put Elle's to shame.

I understand the need to continue living as you lived pre-baby, but that's not always possible.  Or wise.

And I think what it's important to remember is that it is not always going to be like this.  Routine will not always rule the world.  You will not always be a slave to The Nap.  You will not always have to worry about getting home in time to do a quickie version of the bedtime routine, in hopes that you are able to do this before your child becomes so overtired that sleep is only a mirage.  You will not always have to have a baggie of Cheerios in your bag or a sippy of water in your tote, because eventually your child will be old enough to say they're hungry or thirsty (not demonstrate it with a meltdown) and you can grab them a bottle of water and let them know you'll eat when you get home.

The challenges associated with a small child are, fortunately, temporary.  I know they give way to new challenges, of course.

But for now, in my house I suck it up and get Elle by her regular bedtime as much as I can.  In the long run, it's best for everyone.


Tiara said...

Totally agree! Now that my Mom is looking after Elena while I'm at work I am trying to get my Mom to understand how important our routine's so frustrating when she messes with The Nap then lets her sleep until 4pm especially since I'm the one who is then up with her until 10pm trying to get her to sleep!!

J said...

Tiara, that's the WORST. I'm sure it's nice for them to have a break while she naps, but you pay the price! (The same thing happens with grandparents who think it's cute to give Elle ice cream... but they aren't the ones trying to peel her off the ceiling later from the sugar...)