I am not great at maintaining a routine for myself. I try to schedule my days so that the house gets clean on a regular cycle, I exercise each night, and meals are prepared for the next day. This rarely happens – I don’t listen to the rules I set for myself. This leads to greater issues when I have to construct and follow a routine for others.
Children thrive on routine. There is a lot of evidence to support this, but I can tell from just observing my children. Lincoln behaves better and feels better if he is on a routine. The Montessori he attends has a basic routine for their day, with a lot of freedom built in. On weekends I am not great at following this, but we do a basic job of it. Breakfast, play, maybe snack, play/learn/story, lunch, nap… etc. I do believe that the weekends are for resisting routine a bit more and creating excellent family time and adventures. But things like brush your teeth, take a bath, make your bed – those are the things that I am not the greatest at enforcing. Okay, so make your bed has never even been mentioned; brush your teeth happens regularly, if not exactly as it should; baths occur, although maybe not quite every other day. It’s just the idea of making sure other humans follow a routine that challenges me.
Now we look at Eloise. She is just starting in the world, and believes wholeheartedly that sleeping at night is not part of the routine, unless maybe if it’s in mommy’s bed. I know she is old enough to do some sleep-training, but I’m not quite ready to do that. Plus, she is sick with an ear infection right now, teething, and we are going on vacation in a week+, so it’s better to just wait until after all of those disruptions. But I did some reading and thinking, and realized that she does not have a good bedtime routine. So last night we started one.
At dinner she had a bit of baby oatmeal. Although this is a cereal, and not what she is getting fed in general with BLW, I wanted to see if it would help her sleep. I did have her feed herself, and she got quite a bit in her belly. And on her belly. Then we played for a bit with big brother and daddy. Next was bath time. I probably won’t do bath every night, but she really enjoys herself – I’m pretty sure she’s a mermaid. Then I slathered her up with coconut oil and gave her a bit of a massage. Dressed, sleep sack on, and books read. Then I nursed her a bit, which she wasn’t very interested in, and rocked her to sleep. I also added music playing in her room.
She did not sleep all night, but she only woke up twice-ish. She went down at 7pm, woke up at midnight and ate. I put her back in her crib and she slept until 4am. Then she ate again, and slept in our bed with us until 6 when I got up. This is better, and hopefully is a path to better sleep for all!
But sleep is not necessarily my main goal here. I want Ellie to feel comforted and safe, and to thrive.
Routines are helpful, and if maintained, lives are better. (Especially in situations like holidays/vacations – but that’s a completely different post…)