Our 2-year-old daughter thrives on a good routine and after many weeks of trial and error earlier in her life, we finally had a good routine established. But, every once in a while, a wrench gets thrown into the routine. From the outside looking in maybe it looks normal, but for me I see change the instant guests arrive, daddy leaves, or any other shake-up happens. Change is good and necessary, but sometimes very hard to have kids adapt as easily as we adults do.
We recently had my husband’s parents come and help out a few days prior to the surgery. They were amazing with my daughters and helped out immensely, but the day they arrived a shift happened. My oldest daughter was so excited that her normal calm attitude changed to ‘jumping on the couch’ and other more-active-than-normal behaviour.
It was fun to see. She loves people and loves to entertain. But, after 3 or so days, the ‘new’ routine of being excited and ‘jumping on the couch’ was taking a toll on her and causing my happy girl to get a little grumpy. By day 4 she really started to struggle with adjusting, but I could see she was finally starting to calm down back to the old normal.
Then came more adjustments.
After the first few days with the parents, my husband went to the hospital. After about a week, the parents went back home. Then, alone with my two daughters, we made visiting my husband in the hospital a priority of every day. Imagine the chaos so many changes, especially in a short period of time, can cause to a well-established routine.
With all the sleep disturbances and added stress it was hard on me to find the perfect schedule for us again.
Finally, after a few days the transition period was over and we were in a good rhythm again. We were able to spend good time together and get things done that needed to be done. The kids were sleeping (almost) all through the night and we were all happy, but I was lonely. I missed my husband, companion, and support system. I was ready for him to return home, but that did mean one more modification to the schedule.
I was ready for the disturbance and tried to prepare as best I could. I didn’t want my husband to have no sleep or to be jumped on with fresh surgical scars that were still healing. We were lucky enough to be able to ease into the actual normal by having day passes for my husband to come home. It was only a few hours, and maybe half of it was driving but it was worth it to be able to get back on track.
I don’t know what I would do without my routine. Some people may think this is all unnecessary to place our children into a routine so young, but it has major benefits in our lives.
The stress it would give me of having no predictable nap times (I love nap time) and messes I don’t have time to clean would make me feel overwhelmed. I have so much on my mind already that I forget major things because I can’t predict the minor things. Without my routine the predictable becomes unknown and the good girl I know and love becomes a still cute but naughty version.
But when things do get into a routine it takes the guess-work out of the day. It can help everything run smoothly and seamlessly. I feel happy knowing I can get things done and am able to play with my daughter while maintaining all other aspects of my home and life. Truly it helps me feel more fulfilled knowing I got something needed done like organizing or cleaning.
Not only does a routine help with my stress it also helps with planning. I love being on time so I need the day to go as smoothly as it can. By knowing what most days look like (in normal circumstances) I can predict when the best time for appointments is and when both my kids will be happy and awake.
One of the things that is the most important to me is that my kids have the right amount of sleep. Sleep helps them grow and learn. Sleep helps them avoid being grumpy. Sleep helps them get much needed rejuvenation. Sleep makes them happy. With changes or ‘wrenches’, it’s sometimes quite difficult to keep that the same, but it truly is what keeps you sane too. As parents we need that quiet time in the evening or during nap time to do things such as relaxing and blogging (of course). And when this mommy does not get her sleep everything is thrown into the wind.
Routines are truly critical for toddlers. And I know we can’t always control the changes or ‘wrenches’, but we must remember we control how we deal with them. We adapt and try to help our children adapt to the things around them too. It’s hard on our normal routine, but we can do it. We can create a schedule where our children can thrive and grow in the best ways.