Recently I was talking to a friend about routines with children. I realized that I wasn’t fully informed on the subject to be able to efficiently and respectfully share my opinions and what I’ve read on the matter in a way that was as helpful as I had intended it to be. This ended up making me sound pushy and I absolutely hate that. Mother-to-mother, we should never judge one another, right? 😉 I never want another mom to feel judged because there is no “one way” of raising a child.
Well obviously, hindsight being 20/20 and all that, I didn’t want this to happen again plus I was curious about the topic itself. I wanted to double check myself on some things so I looked up “do kids need routines.” Here’s what I found that I think is really interesting, some of which I hadn’t thought of before…
“Kids who come from chaotic homes where belongings aren’t put away never learn that life can run more smoothly if things are organized a little. In homes where there is no set time or space to do homework, kids never learn how to sit themselves down to accomplish an unpleasant task. Kids who don’t develop basic self-care routines, from grooming to food, may find it hard to take care of themselves as young adults. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits.” (source)
This is fascinating! I definitely think when it comes to toys that we don’t need to be picking up our kids’ toys the second they throw them down, but keeping an area picked up and not a total chaotic mess is ideal. Most areas in my house with toys tend to be generally picked up but it’s bigger than that, isn’t it? It’s the way we pick up after ourselves instead of leaving things out. It’s how we tidy our rooms, make our beds, etc. It’s not just about cleaning up their toys…
But what about naps and bedtimes and establishing a routine? Is a routine something we create or is it something our kids create?
“As your infant moves into babyhood, she will establish her own routine, settling into a schedule of sorts. Most babies settle into a fairly predictable pattern. We can help them with this by structuring our day around their needs, so, for instance, we make sure conditions are appropriate for her nap at the time she usually sleeps. Gradually, over time, we can respond to her natural schedule of eating and sleeping by developing a routine that works for her and for the whole family.” (source)
Well, what about kids who don’t really nap at any given time? What if nap time can range over several hours? You said ‘Most babies settle into a fairly predictable pattern.’ but what if mine doesn’t?
“According to pediatrician Greg Yapalater, naps tend to work themselves out. Nap patterns are usually established when the child is an infant and often revolve around feeding schedules. This helps shape the schedule going forward. “You are probably feeding every three hours,” he says, “which is four bottles a day. So things start falling into place and then what you are going to do about naps becomes very straightforward.” Some parents, he says, may choose an hour after the first bottle for the morning nap and then an hour after the midday bottle for the afternoon nap.” (source)
Okay so it boils down to how I handled my child’s routine and staying consistent with it as an infant. Maybe I got off track (or maybe your child really never got him or herself into a routine) so now what? Can I do something to help reset?
Know When It’s Nap Time
“Tune in to your kids’ signs that they are ready to nap,” Shubin says. “Some kids sit there and stare. Some get fussy, and some kids cry when they are ready to nap.”
Do not ignore these cues, you and your child will be much happier when he is put down for his nap at this time.
Create an Ideal Napping Environment
“Try to put your child in the same environment for each nap,” Yapalater says. “Don’t let your child nap in the crib one day, a day bed the next, and in your bed the day after that,” he says. Why? “You really want the napping environment to be as consistent as possible so your child will associate it with going to sleep,” he says. “You can’t force anyone to take a nap, but you can create the environment for sleep,” Yapalater says. “Tell your child, ‘You can sleep, be awake, or sing, but you have to stay put,'” he says. “Don’t make an appearance as you would at night because there are more distractions during the day. So it doesn’t take much for them to say, ‘There is too much going on here for me to nap.’“
Is it a big deal to let them nap later in the day? Most parents have their kids nap anywhere from noon – 2 pm. What if mine seems to nap much later? As long as they sleep, its good, right?
“If you keep them up to make them more tired, they will be too restless and unsettled to use the normal self-soothing routines that put them to sleep at night,” she says. A better plan is to tweak the nap or nap schedule by shaving off 15 minutes or starting the nap earlier in the day. Later naps are not always the best call because your child needs to get a certain amount of daylight, and napping until its dark may prevent this from occurring, Cradock says. (source)
All in all, raising a child can be hard. There are no set rules, no child is exactly alike and we all just need to support and encourage one another. All of the above info was simply tips to help anyone who isn’t sure what to do and is always with the mindset of wanting what is best for your kiddo.
Take it from my mistake, If you really want to help someone, be sure you’re not coming at them like some know-it-all and maybe instead of using your OWN words, ask the person you’re already having a conversation with if they would like to read an article you read on the topic. Let them know its something you’ve read yourself and it really helped you. This way it’s not coming from you but something you’ve learned and you aren’t pushing it at them. This alone can go a long way to legitimately trying to care about someone and showing it in a way that doesn’t come off as “my way is better than yours.” The less drawn out the better and when what you’ve said is enough, let it go and let them just be the parent. (Something I’m still learning.)
Thanks for reading, lovelies.
I hope this has helped someone in some way or another.