In Praise of Routine (Even if it Did Make Me a Bit Bonkers)

In Praise of Routine - image of newborn baby asleep in a Moses basket

As I’ve mentioned before, I read The Contented Little Baby Book when I was pregnant and was horrified when my baby didn’t immediately settle in to the routine suggested in the book. Gina Ford’s message clearly hadn’t miraculously made it’s way to my unborn child, who knew?  Despite this, I was absolutely adamant that my baby would have a routine. The chaos of being baby led was not helping my postnatal depression and I had soon had enough of driving aimlessly around in order to make nap times happen.

I get that routine isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of people out there who are happy to let the baby eat when it feels like it. They will spontaneously go round to a friends for coffee even though it’s nap time. I am not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to be. Mostly because I assume they must be really enjoying motherhood if making nap time happen isn’t their number one priority. That laissez faire style of parenting was never going to be for me.

 

Establishing a routine

Looking back, I can clearly see I was a bit obsessed with routine. To the point where I may have been acting a bit crazy. Here are some of the things I did to try and establish a routine.

  • Watched the baby intently all day and wrote down everything he did in order to try and establish when his natural eating and sleeping times were.
  • Insisted we do exactly the same thing, at EXACTLY the same time, everyday in order to force a routine upon him.
  • Bought two teddies, one for nap time and one for bedtime and gave him the relevant one at the relevant time, to act as a sleep cue.
  • Dressed the baby EVERYDAY in proper clothes so he would understand the difference between day and night
  • Got up at 4am every morning for a month to do “Wake to Sleep” in order to stop his early morning wake up time (which didn’t work by the way).

 

Success!

Eventually, some aspect of all this (although I’ve no idea which) worked and we established a routine. While that did help massively with my PND, I remained fairly obsessive. 

The classes and groups we attended were based around nap times and, once we started weening, meal times. I missed out on seeing friends because he would only nap at home, never in his pram and I couldn’t risk upsetting the routine by missing a nap. 

Car journey’s were a nightmare. He was still inclined to fall asleep in the car which would mess things up completely. This meant that all journeys longer than about 15 minutes had to be taken at nap times. If we were driving back from somewhere and it was nearly time for his sleep I would be blasting out the nursery rhymes and singing along at the top of my voice to try and keep him awake.

Myy in laws started to look after him when he was about 20 months. He arrived with a long list of very specific instructions. Luckily they are amazing and claimed to find them very helpful but I’m sure they thought I was bonkers.

 

Baby number two

As everyone says, second babies just have to fit in and luckily, that’s just what girl Child did. Having her brother’s routine forced upon her from day one seemed to suit her just fine. I even got them to nap at the same time most days. While Boy Child had slept on me quite a bit as a baby, I was too scared to let Girl Child do it much after 6 weeks in case I ended up stuck on the sofa under a baby again. I put her in the cot for all her naps from day one. This was great as she slept well there but did mean I missed out on a lot of cuddly sleeps. 

 

Where they actually a bit brainwashed?

I suspect that my strict adherence to routine may have somewhat brainwashed the children. Boy Child napped until he started school and even then carried on napping at the weekends for a few months. Girl Child napped until she was nearly 4. I suspect that because I had been so strict, a day without a nap was simply unimaginable to either of them for a long time.

Now they are older, 6 and 8 at the time of writing, our routine is much more relaxed but we do still have one. They aren’t allowed downstairs until they are dressed, we do spellings everyday before breakfast and we have “Quiet Time” (which should actually be called “Ipad Time” but quiet time makes me sound like a much better parent) after lunch at the weekends. It’s lovely not having to stick rigidly to a routine but I think still having one minimises how much I have to yell at them to brush their teeth or do their homework, a bit anyway.

I would love to know if you had a routine or not and if it worked for you.

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In Praise of Routine (Even if it did make me a bit bonkers) - image of toddler asleep in bed

19 Comments

  1. Jo
    April 2, 2019 / 11:10 am

    Really interesting read. For me, the overwhelming feeling I get from reading this, is that it’s so important for us all to do what’s right for us and our families, what feels comfortable and natural. As first time parents, we are bombarded with “help” and “advice” from various sources (family, books, people at groups), each offering their magic solution which is distressing and confusing when funnily enough – it doesn’t work for you. Finding your own way and sticking to it, regardless of what others think, can only be the best way.

  2. April 2, 2019 / 12:54 pm

    I too followed Gina Ford! Whilst it definitely helped, I didn’t like being told, now you can have some toast!! But routine definitely helped me 😁

  3. April 2, 2019 / 2:40 pm

    Oh I love a routine! Especially a naptime one – I could never cuddle both twins to sleep as not enough room on me so they always went down in their cots for a nap. They’re 21 months now and happily go in their cots after lunch every day and sleep for 2-3 hours! It’s the only thing that keeps me sane. Shame the three year old doesn’t nap anymore. IPad time, anyone??

  4. April 2, 2019 / 5:23 pm

    I absolutely believe in parenting in a way that works for you. We were those parents who didn’t necessarily follow a routine and just followed the boys’ cues. However, this did mean that the boys dropped their nap super early. I’d much rather have kept the nap until they were four!!!

  5. April 2, 2019 / 6:17 pm

    Ahh, the nap drive. I know it well! I’m with you all the way on routine, and wouldn’t give up my precious nap time peace for coffee with friends either! Xx

  6. April 2, 2019 / 7:11 pm

    I love routines! My kids were horrible sleepers for the first two years but routines helped me survive those years. And now we have a morning and evening routines and them make our lives so much easier 🙂

  7. April 3, 2019 / 10:50 am

    11 years ago since I read Gina ford but this bought it all back to me about those difficult days of trying to get this Mummy/baby routine down.

    Great post x

  8. April 4, 2019 / 4:14 am

    Thanks for writing this! With my first I was happy to just do whatever – she was a really easy baby (apart from eating…) so she’d just nap whenever she got tired, wherever we were.
    Now my second (much fussier, doesn’t really like napping in his cot but won’t reliably sleep in the buggy either) is six months old I’m really starting to feel like we need more of a routine. They only nap at the same time about once a week and the lack of me time (even if I use it to mop the floor or do the ironing!) is getting to me…

    • Jo
      Author
      April 4, 2019 / 3:43 pm

      It’s so hard isn’t? You really do need a bit of time during the day to get on with stuff and they seem much less grumpy when they’ve had a sleep!

  9. April 5, 2019 / 11:30 am

    Ugh! I read ALL the books, but, unfortunately, my first son had not read them, so he did not comply with any kind of effort to find a routine. Every baby is different, so by the time I had four babies, I had come to accept this.

  10. Emily
    April 5, 2019 / 2:06 pm

    With our twins we found routine so important. Even at 7 years old now, we still have a pretty solid routine in place.

  11. April 6, 2019 / 7:55 am

    While I had planned on having a routine before my son was born he never received the memo and for the first 6 months fed every hour and never slept during the day. Even now at 13 Months we don’t have a routine, he seems happy and fortunately does nap now but your guess is as good as mine when that is during the day 😊

  12. April 6, 2019 / 7:59 am

    I really failed at any sort of routine with my eldest. Eventually we got into one just in time for number two to arrive. My youngest just fit in with the routine and it was so much easier.

  13. April 6, 2019 / 11:26 am

    The only thing that I was ever super strict about, was naptime. I didn’t mind where it happened, I just made sure THAT it happened. Our evening was always bath, dinner and bed by 7pm… It’s still like that and my eldest is 9! Thanks for linking up to #itsok

  14. April 6, 2019 / 1:04 pm

    Most definitely I think the best thing is finding what works for you, our evening routine for example has been pretty much the same since first born. Luckily second just slotted right in. But in other places we are more flexible. It’s all about balance.

  15. April 6, 2019 / 7:54 pm

    I love a routine for nap time and bed time! Everything else is a bit hit and miss hehe!

  16. Anuma
    April 7, 2019 / 6:26 am

    I was lucky enough with my first child to stick with the routine but when I had a second child, the house is like a playground now. And I can’t manage anything 😳

  17. April 9, 2019 / 7:47 pm

    I am a huge fan of routine. It works for me, and it helps my kids too I believe. Even now they are 5 and 7. Their routine is good for me, and for them. I can relate to all your crazy ‘antics’, except the dressing one … they lived in growers, day and night! lol
    #itsok

  18. April 10, 2019 / 2:12 am

    Kudos to you for sticking to what was best for your family! We are the complete opposite in our house. There is no real routine to speak of when it comes to bedtime and none of my 3 kids napped beyond about 20 months old. It really is about what’s best for you as a family unit isn’t it.

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