It has taken me by surprise how much we rely on routines in our household. I never thought of myself as an overly structured person. I definitely wasn't when Nolan was a baby/toddler. I think the difference is now I have an older school aged child. That within itself creates the need for a routine. There is a waking time. A breakfast time. A time to catch the bus. A time to arrive home on the bus. A sports practice schedule. A sports game schedule. A dinner time. A homework time. A bedtime.
To try to manage all of those things without a routine would equal complete chaos. Add in a toddler without a routine, and you'd really have a mess.
I had some friends who were very structured when their children were young, and I used to think they were a little inflexible and/or unnecessarily rigid about things. However, now I have a very different perspective -- oh the difference having multiple children makes! (And I'm sorry for those thoughts I used to have, my dear sweet friends!!)
I see now that Luke thrives on a schedule, and fully expects/wants to stick to our routine. If I switch things up, he will forge ahead with the routine, with or without me.
After breakfast, we get Nolan out the door for the bus, and Luke and I head back to our sunroom. I put on Sesame Street, and he doesn't watch it (but likes to dance to the music). We play back there for about an hour or so. We do this pretty much every day. Today, I sat down in our front play room and turned on his music. He started dancing and played a little, but it must not have been the same for him. He noticed our gate was unlatched, so he took it upon himself to go to the sunroom, open the doors, and sat down to play back there. He giggled hysterically when I found him, but it was clear that is where he wanted to be.
After we play, and I can tell he's getting tired, I get him a small snack (like Puffs or a breakfast bar), and we head back to his room. I open his curtains so he can look out his windows (one of his favorite things to do), and I sit down on his floor. I started doing this because I wanted him to have an attachment to his room....enjoy playing in it and know that it is his special space. He loves it. He comes over for bites of his snack while he's busy playing/investigating his room.
One day I was in a hurry and I was going to skip the room playing/snack. We had a late breakfast so I didn't think he'd be hungry. I went straight to the diaper change and wanted to put him down for his nap. He was not having any of that. He went over to his windows, and tried to open the curtains. Then he sat down on the floor and looked at me like, I'm ready to have my snack!
It amazed me how important those things were to him. It's good to know that he enjoys structure, and I try to honor his routine whenever I can. There are of course times when things get thrown off schedule. I try to not let that happen more than once or twice a week. I notice that if we have a crazy week when several days are completely out of the ordinary, he'll start to get fussy and cranky. I also notice that it's our morning routine that matters the most. After he wakes up from his nap and we have lunch, he can pretty much handle anything for the afternoon/evening. That is when I try to meet up with friends, run errands, etc.
We're strict about bedtime, which also seems to help Luke (if you remember, he used to be a horrendous sleeper!). We start getting ready for bed at 7:45, give a snack, and then in the crib he goes at 8pm. He seems to know that is a non-negotiable destination, because even if he doesn't fall asleep right away, he'll quietly play in his crib before he crashes. Usually he crashes immediately, but when he doesn't it's sweet to see him reading a book before bed :) (love the video monitor!)
I'm sure our routine will be different this summer when Nolan is done with school. It will be interesting to see what pattern we fall into, and how well Luke handles the change! My carefree days with one child are gone, but I can embrace this routine ridden life as well <3