For some reason (beyond me) people are always, and I mean always, telling us how well behaved, happy and laid back our kids are. Don’t get me wrong, our kids are almost abnormally well behaved, we are grateful! But people mostly attribute it to us being laid back parents.
Apparently I am laid back. Or at least appear to be? I feel quite rude being so sceptical of these lovely compliments but, most of the time, I do not feel laid back at all. (Did you see my posts about anxiety and Negative Thoughts and snapping? Eeeep.)
I think the weird thing is, when it comes to routine and things like eating and sleeping, we actually are? Laid back I mean, but not in the ‘who cares about routines’ kind of way.
More the ‘You don’t want to eat that? I guess you’re not hungry‘, or ‘oh you don’t want to go to bed? Too bad, love you, goodnight.’ Kind of way.
I’m not saying we slam the doors in our kids’ faces and leave them to scream. In fact funnily enough we’ve never believed in letting them ‘cry it out’.
We simply haven’t gone running every time they whinge, giving them at least a few minutes each time to try and calm down by themselves before going back. Now, they pretty much just… do, I guess?
We’ve managed to find some sort of magic balance in between.
The key to a successful routine, I think, must be balance. I’m going to clarify that with a peek into our routine.
What I am not going to do is write you a perfectly laid out list, down to the minute, of exactly what happens in our day as if that is perfect and every day without fail. I am not going to tell you babies or toddlers of whatever ages should be doing this or must be doing that.
Whilst I do have strong opinions on certain choices, I also understand that different things work for different children. Families can differ in little ways or huge ways but as long as their children are happy and healthy and loved, they should absolutely choose the routine and lifestyle that works best for all of them.
So here’s a gentle meandering through a possible day of ours, starting from the night feed, (just because it’s technically morning).
(Fyi: Our kids are now 8 months and almost 4 years old.)
Somewhere between 3-5am:
Rhyd wakes up. I leave him making goo-goo noises while I prep his bottle and visit the loo. I then fetch him, change his nappy and lay down with him in our bed to give him his bottle.
When he finishes I wind him then lay down with him to go back to sleep, because putting him back in his cot at this stage just seems to signal ‘Hey, time to play and yell!’ and generally wakes up the whole house.
He may or may not fall back asleep immediately, if not he will usually be quite happy laying between us kicking the ever-loving hell out of me, just because, for a half-hour to an hour some nights. He then falls back asleep until about 7 -7.30am.
(4.30AM: Daddy gets up to go to work)
I get up to write/blog
The boys stir. If it is before 7 Gray must go back to bed or play quietly in his room. Rhyd tends to entertain himself.
I wrap up my work and get us all dressed, we then head downstairs and have breakfast. Usually toast for me and Gray, which I eat while feeding Rhyd baby porridge.
Until about 9ish:
The boys entertain themselves after breakfast while I wash up (which includes the dinner plates from the night before, if I was lazy!) and organise what we need for the day. If I’ve put laundry on this is usually when it’s ready to go out on the line.
I can’t stand staying in all day with the boys if we’ve got nothing to do. If I must: some days we do craft, some days I need to get cleaning done so I’ll set Gray up with playdoh, or maybe we need to go to the supermarket etc.
Most days I prefer to be out in the mornings, so we will try to attend a baby group or have a play date with a friend. This gives us all a break from being indoors and lets us socialise.
Rhyd will sometimes sleep about half an hour, sometimes not. He will sometimes want a bottle, sometimes not. (I let him decide in the mornings, as there isn’t a terribly long time between breakfast and lunch in our house. Also he is a terrible sleeper during the day and trying to force him is not good for anybody.)
Gray will sometimes have a snack, depending on how much he ate for breakfast/how active he is being, I let him ask if he is hungry.
we usually have lunch pretty early in our house as 3 days a week Gray has Nursery, from 1pm-6pm. This is usually easy food like sandwiches, fruit, raw veggies, yogurts etc. Some days Rhyd has finger foods, others he will be fed something. This depends on how much time we have before we have to be somewhere.
On a day we don’t have nursery, Gray will pick a film to watch while we eat and Rhyd will have finger foods. I will sit with my own sandwich or whatever at the table and get a little work done. (In the same room, never leave a baby alone while eating!)
At some point when Rhyd is finished I will clean him up and take him up to his cot for a nap. This can be anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on his mood.
I will then continue my work until our ‘quiet time’ (the film) is finished. Usually I use this chance to join blog linkys, or re-pin on pinterest etc.
After the film is over we usually play for a little while.
Daddy gets home from work. After he has changed and had a bite to eat, he will usually entertain the boys (or boy, if Rhyd is still asleep) for a little while. On a good day I use this time to cook dinner, tidy up, put laundry away etc.
On a bad day I may be in sensory overload by this point, so will retreat to the bedroom to do a little writing for an hour or two and wind down. (Then return to make dinner etc later on.)
Rhyd usually wakes any time between 2.30pm-4pm and will have a bottle. Gray will probably also have a snack at this point.
Dinner time. We usually eat around 5 to accommodate the boy’s bedtime, we don’t want them to go to bed uncomfortable because they’ve just eaten. We can always grab a snack later for ourselves.
We try to be good and sit around the table together but some nights we do have a ‘lap’ meal on the sofa, it really depends on our moods/the day’s events. As long as we try to get to the table a couple nights a week it’s not the end of the world.
Rhyd has usually been fed his just before ours is ready and will sit quite happily just watching us. Or we’ll give him a baby biscuit or piece of fruit to munch on, so he doesn’t feel left out.
Rhyds bedtime. On bath nights we try to give the boys a bath between 6-6.30ish, so this occasionally ends up later. We don’t bath them every night because I don’t believe it’s necessary, when they’re older they can make their own choices about that! They’re both healthy and don’t smell, so we must be doing something right!
Rhyd is not as good a sleeper as Gray was. He used to go down and be out for the count in seconds. Rhyd will sometimes do that, if we’re lucky. Most nights, however, he will fuss and cry.
Usually I let him cry until it has been a few minutes (no more than 5) or if his tone changes from ‘I’m annoyed, why am I not being given attention/playing anymore?’ to ‘I’m actually really upset now, I want my mummy/daddy!’. I then go and sooth him as best I can with his dummy, blanket, cuddly toy, mobile etc.
Some nights we get lucky and 1 or 2 visits do the job, if he hasn’t gone straight to sleep. Other nights he simply won’t settle and gets more and more irate until I give in and pick him up. At this point less than a minute of gently rocking, shushing and back patting knock him straight out.
The problem is, that this only works once he’s worked himself up. When I first put him down, trying to rock him only makes him more frustrated.
Kids really are all so different, I have learnt this through trial and error and very frustrating evenings.
Grays bedtime. He brushes his teeth (first by himself, then we double check, the dentist recommends this until kids are 7 years old!)
He will get changed and have his bedtime story in our room, then depending on whether or not Rhyd is still kicking off, will go to bed in either his bed or ours. (They share a room!)
We let him choose his story and take turns doing bedtime. This usually allows the other parent to be productive, wash up from dinner etc before we wind down.
When I go back to work 2 of my shifts will be evenings, so not having me there for every bedtime is something we have always done, to make sure the boys get used to it.
7pm-ish to 10pm-ish:
Our evening time to ourselves.
It is so essential to have time to yourselves!
I usually try to get the bottles washed, sterilised and filled ready for the night feed and next day, and try to remember to get the changing/nursery bags ready. I don’t always remember but when I do, it makes the next morning so much easier!
Most nights I will write/blog and do social media promoting, stock photo editing etc. Husband will play Xbox One or online game with his friends. Some nights we make sure to shut everything else down and just sit and watch a film together or something chilled.
Remembering to spend quality time together is necessary for a happy, healthy relationship after all!
While I try to keep our daily routine consistent, it is not set in stone.
If we go out for the day, visit someone or something unexpected happens, things will be different. It’s not always in our control.
But, I will at least try, especially when it comes to bedtime. Rhyd is not great with his day-time sleep, even though at his age he still needs it. Gray doesn’t seem to need naps any more, yet almost always falls asleep in the car wherever we go.
Although he might complain at bedtime, Gray sleeps a consistent 11-12 hours every night and is usually out within 10 mins of going down.
Most nights Rhyd falls straight back asleep after his bottle, so realistically gets around 11-12 hours also, depending on his morning wake up time.
So my key points for new parents about our ‘laid back’ routine:
– Be consistent.
Your kids will do better knowing, mostly, what they can expect from their day. It makes them feel safe. But:
– Don’t panic if it fluctuates.
As long as you are trying to keep things recognisable, the odd late meal/bedtime won’t hurt.
If something big completely messes everything up, take a deep breath, expect grumpy kids the next day but try to reset and go straight back to normal. It will help them decompress from the experience and you will all feel better knowing life continues as ever.
– Think of yourself.
I know for a fact I will be more likely to have a bad day, need time to myself in the afternoon and probably still feel grumpy in the evening if I don’t have ‘quiet time’. This is partially why our lunch time routine is what it is. I at least now use it to be productive.
You will be able to be more engaged and enjoy your dinner together etc if you’re not feeling drained or overloaded.
– Keep a reasonable bedtime.
Even if your kids complain they aren’t tired, science has proven they need a reasonable amount of sleep.
Gray complains almost every night that he isn’t tired, and is almost always out like a light 5 minutes later.
This isn’t just for them, after a full day (Every. Single. Day.) of running around after your little person and putting their needs before your own, you need some time to yourself. You may need to get some work done in peace, maybe you want to unwind playing Xbox, stalk facebook, or just fancy watching some TV that isn’t primary colours and annoying characters.
You also need to remember to spend time together as a couple, rather than just as Mum and Dad.
Either way, bedtime is probably the most important part of our routine.
So there is a mostly accurate day in our house. I hope you find this helpful! I know there are many other factors that probably affect why we get the comments we do. I have actually thought about the subject of discipline while writing this, which leads me to a whole new post, coming soon!
Discipline is a big part of our ‘balance’. Without it, a routine simply won’t work, the kids won’t listen! So let’s cover that another day, it’s going to be a doozy!
What is your routine like? I’d love to hear from others about how your day goes and how you feel it affects you all! Stop by the comments and let’s discuss!