Those three words were burned into me while pregnant by every been-there-done-that parent I encountered and parenting book I read. All agreed, the routine would be the saving grace for both my child and I.
All I had to do was wait until he was 6-8 weeks old, then start a nighttime routine; bath, books, bottle/nurse, bed. From there, I could work towards a 24/7 routine that would make life easier for both my child and I.
So, naturally, I listened.
Over time, the routine became EVERYTHING! I lived by the clock, and so did my infant. He ate, napped, bathed and breathed his routine. Just like my friends and the parenting books said, it made life for both of us in some strange way, comforting. I could plan my days around the routine, which made socialization and even grocery shopping easier.
Of course, as Ollie got older, the routine changed in terms of mealtimes, number of naps and playtime, but what always stayed same was the bedtime routine:
Three and a half years later, I'm still obsessed with sticking to the routine.
While I'm not sure who finds more comfort in the routine, me or Ollie, I know we both need it to maintain peace and harmony.
FTD insists that as long as we are having fun, the routine can wait.
I insist otherwise.
It turns out, we are both right.
The routine is key for a child. There are numerous studies that prove it, HOWEVER, I'm starting to realize, the older my child gets, the more it's OK to relax about the routine.
This summer FTD, Ollie and I are getting out more, which means, we are staying out past naptime, and bedtime. At first it made me crazy. I was concerned that missing our routine would definitely result in a cranky child that, thanks to being overtired, hungry, or both, would be a terror.
Well, I was wrong.
I'm learning that missing bedtime, or not having a bath, will not result in a Godzilla toddler. And gasp, the world as I know it, will not come crumbling down on my head. Stopping my family from living and enjoying themselves is not worth getting worked up about following the routine.
While I expect the normalcy and predictability the routine affords my family to be a saving grace for many more years to come, I'm learning to relax a little and let the good times roll past 7:30 if need be.
Life is about living, not sticking to a routine...
What about you? Is routine everything in your house too? Have you started letting the routine shift the older your child gets too?