Friday, 15 May 2015

Baby routine: no, thanks

My beautiful friend Kristy-Lee has started a Youtube Channel (link). She's a mum of five and puts up videos with how-to's on various topics, do have a look, she's great. With five kids, she's got lots of experience to draw from! What she does clearly works for her family - and knowing them, I can see it really does! One of her videos, "5 bedtime tips" is what prompted this post... I've been thinking lots about routines in the past few months.

Kristy certainly isn't the only person I've heard singing the praises of bedtime routines: everyone does, it seems! So why do I have an instinctive resistance inside?

Obviously every family is dfiferent and Kristy's way works for her family, but for mine, I can't contemplate any real routine apart from what happens naturally and organically anyway. I've thought about it a lot. And I think the vision that's beginning to form certainly isn't for everyone....

Hashing out the arguments

Feeding to sleep:
yeah, we do that.
A routine is something that happens every day, in the same order, and at (more or less) the same time. It's supposed to help babies and kids to get to sleep more easily, and give them a certain security - knowing what's going to happen next. I can see the argument for that, especially having worked with people with learning disabilities - knowing what's expected and what's going to happen next is helpful to many.

My instinctive reaction is based on not wanting to be chained to a routine, though. I see it in some friends' lives. Naptimes are off-limits each day; and come, say, 7pm, every single day, they have no freedom to do anything or go anywhere because the almighty routine demands absolute adherence. No matter what. And God forbid it's disturbed! The kids are seriously out of balance. Meltdowns and tantrums.

I don't want that!

Is it naive to think that having a loose approach can work? From what I hear from my routine-using friends, even with a routine there are daily battles and difficulties, as just because the kids know the routine does not mean they will follow it cheerfully! So a routine isn't going to give us an easy life. So I just fail to see what the advantage is of chaining ourselves to a timetable.

What I do want (all this and maybe a unicorn too)

Brushing her gums
(no teeth as yet)
I want to be able to go places in the evening and do things, with baby - and yes, with kids if and when we have more than one - and have her/them either go to sleep there or stay awake. I want naptimes to be semi-flexible, as they are now: we have a general idea when she'll sleep but she might her first nap at 10am the one day and after 12 noon the next, all depending on what we're doing that day.

Anyhow, where does the notion come from that children need to go to sleep early? Is this because the parents want the evening to themselves, or is there a developmental reason? I don't think there is, and for our family, I'm not worried about having our evenings child free. (In fact I wouldn't mind a lie-in, so if kids are up later, they might sleep in later too, no?)

We are one family, and if kids go to bed too early they'll miss out on dad time, anyway! So kiddo/s are welcome to be up when we are. Perhaps that might actually eliminate some of the bedtime problems, because if I remember correctly from my own childhood, part of the reason I didn't want to go to bed was because I was afraid to miss out on something! I don't want to exclude our kid/s from parts of our lives.

I want to include my kid/s in my life. We belong together. This does mean sacrifices on my part, being selective about activities, and certain things I can't do for the moment. But that is what I signed up to when I got pregnant: perhaps I'm swinging the other way from my own mother, who insisted on living her own life apart from us - I want to do motherhood not as a tacked-on part of what I do, but as very much who I am.

And that's not to say I want my life to revolve around my kid/s. Oh no! I see routine as much more limiting than what I'm proposing. If I had to be at home every day for a certain set of hours, doing the exact same set of things day in and day out, come what may: I would find that limiting. I'd feel trapped.

What I'm proposing is continuing to do what I love, socialising and church activities and friends - doing the things we do, together, as a family. Kid/s fitting into our lives, rather than our lives revolving around their routines.

Am I naive? Yeah, probably - I don't have any experience with kids. But perhaps, just maybe, we can make this work. We'll certainly try.

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Thanks so much for sharing!