Written by Meagan Klipstein, Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Many adults have a negative association with the word routines. To them a routine is the same thing as being in a rut and adults are bombarded with the idea that being in a rut is something that we should avoid. But for children a routine is not a bad thing and in fact routines give our children a sense of security, allows them to mark the passage of time, predict what is coming in the future, and allows them to develop self discipline. This is because routines are based on repetition and through repetition children find predictably, stability and security.
As adults we have control over our world. We make decisions and arrange our lives but children do not have this same control over their environment. Just as we do not function well or feel settled when there is chaos and upheaval in our daily lives neither do our children function well without structure, routine and a sense of rhythm to their day. Having a routine does not mean that you have to do the exact same thing in the exact same order every day (although some children do like to have the exact same story read to them before every nap), but for most people a routine is simply a way of structuring your child’s day so that there is a flexible yet consistent rhythm.
Baby Sleep and Routines
A child that knows that after breakfast they are going to get dressed, and after they get dressed they are going to have their big daily activity, then after that they will have lunch and a nap will spend less timing worrying about what is coming up next, be more cooperative to doing what you need them to do and be able to focus their energy on exploring their world and being a kid.
One place you can start to build your routine is at wake up time. While many families have a consistent bedtime routine it is also a good idea to have a morning routine that you do when your child wakes up. For example when you child wakes up you can open up his curtains and sing him a good morning song. Working parents that struggle to get time with their children before bedtime might want to start the day with a cuddle and a book. I know one client who always put her sons socks in the dryer to warm them up before going up to his room to wake him up. The morning wake up routine does not need to be elaborate but having one does help to distinguish sleep time from wake time, and can set the tone for your entire day.
Even for little babies, for whom we do not recommend a structured routine since it is important to feed babies when they are hungry, change them when they are wet and structure our days around their needs, we can still begin to put in place a simple bedtime routine and a loving morning wake up routine that will begin to help them shape their day.
What does your routine look like?
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Photography by atkinson000 on Flickr