A predictable little one is a happy little one!

I hear so many parents talk about their babies and children, and how they just “Go with the flow, they don’t have a schedule”. My response? Are you CRAZY! I would not be able to function, and neither would my children. If your children are happy and function well like that, more power to you, but I believe that babies and children need structure and a schedule to function well.

Through years of education, child care, teaching, researching children, and now having my own I have a pretty good idea of why structure works, and how to implement one. I have parents and friends ask me all the time “How do you do it?” and my answer every single time is “support, prayer, coffee, and STRUCTURE!”

Okay, so let’s dig a little deeper and make a routine!

Why are routines so important? (I will just say ‘them’ because this applies to babies, toddlers, AND children!)

A routine lets them know what to expect.

A routine gives them a sense that their life is predictable.

A routine is calming, and provides a sense of security

Gives them the ability for self- initiation.

Gives you, the parent, less to worry about and more to focus on.untitled (5)

As an example BK#1’s morning routine looks like this : wake, get dressed, go downstairs and get breakfast, playtime, snack, reading time (where we end up reading every single book that is on the first floor), lunch, relax time – cup of milk and a show or story, and naptime by 12:30.

BK#2 has a very similar schedule, although he is 17 months younger! : Wake, nurse, playtime, nap and repeat. Eat, play, sleep= very important for a baby, but I won’t get into that in this post.

Every. Single. Day. If we have things to do, or errands to run, then it is worked in after breakfast and before lunch so she gets to bed for nap on time.

On a more physical level, it lets them to participate in the day to day activities. – meaning a routine can help encourage independence in your child. When they know what is coming next, they are more willing to do it. But, also more willing to do it on their own.

Our schedule is very flexible, but it is the routine that is important. If BK#1 asks for an apple after she has had lunch, and we aren’t quite getting ready for nap yet (it’s not a distraction to get out of nap), then yes she gets another snack. If she is acting tired and fussy earlier than normal then she might go down for a nap an hour or so early. The schedule keeps me sane, but their routine keeps them happy!

So relax and go with the flow! {The flow that you have created!- see how that works}

When you are making your routine for your children/babies remember that it takes time, effort and consistency.

Consistency will make it easier for you to transition from one activity to the next, hopefully without a meltdown. If I get BK#1 down for her nap at her scheduled time, she goes willingly and goes right along with our nap routine. If her nap gets pushed back and then she is over tired, there’s a meltdown coming and she cries for a bit. It’s not pleasant, I have to carry her up to her bed crying and screaming that she doesn’t want to go for her nap, when she obviously needs it.

Remember to praise their effort, not results. – i.e.: your two year old trying to get their pants on but they may be backwards and inside out. They tried, and that is what is important.

With babies look at the bright side of things. They might not have napped as long as you wanted them to the first few days of getting them on a routine, but they did it in the time frame you wanted. It’s a start!

Keep your focus on what is going well in your routine, not what is making you crazy. Be sure to give lots of praise and positive attention to LOs when they make an effort, to boost their self-esteem and they will want to try even harder next time. (If you are creating a routine for your baby make sure your DH is doing this for YOU, so you don’t get discouraged)webmd_rm_photo_of_mom_kissing_baby

Lastly, make sure you don’t have too high of expectations for your LO!

Pay attention to their development and what you are trying to require of them. If you are trying to get a nursing 4month old to sleep through the night it just might not be possible. Most breastfed babies need to wake at least once during the night to feed. And that is OKAY! If you are trying to get your 1 year old to only take one nap a day they might not be ready for that, because they are still a baby and require a TON of sleep!

You cannot set a schedule and expect them to follow it all the way from day one. If you’ve decided on an earlier bedtime, you will need to gradually move up their bedtime to let them get familiarized to the new schedule. Does it mean they will be more accommodating and easy going? Maybe not, but if it will help then why not try it to see if it works for you.

If you haven’t set a routine from day one from the hospital, this might be hard to start. Don’t get discouraged! I promise that it will make your child happier and make your life so much easier!

~Amanda

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3 thoughts on “A predictable little one is a happy little one!

    1. It really does. Some kids don’t respond as well to specific times, because they are always changing, but I have found that with the base line routine and schedule even if they stray from it a little, they are pretty darn close!

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  1. I completely agree! When my LO was about 7 months, I buckled down and had a strict sleep schedule. It worked so well and really, ever since she’s been a fantastic sleeper. Routines are a life saver!!

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