Friday, May 13, 2011

52 Tool Cards: Routines

This week, I had DH and C help me pull a card at random.  And the winner is... Routines!


Routines?  Really?  Do I have to?

I resist routines.  I prefer spontaneity and take it as it comes.  Routine to me equals a rigid schedule, being on the clock.  That kind of routine means law and order, which brings out my perfectionism.  If there's a routine to follow, then I will know when I don't do it perfectly.  I can't do it perfectly, so why even try? 

Real logical right?

Let's see what the card actually says:

Help children create routine charts to encourage self-discipline.

Nothing too menacing there.  If I think of routines as a "flexible order of events," they're not so scary.  Let's go on:

  1. Create routine charts WITH your child -- sounds doable, even fun!
  2. Brainstorm tasks that need to be done (bedtime, morning, homework, etc.) -- This part sounds a little scary.  Do I write down what we actually do, or what I want to happen in an ideal world?
  3. Take pictures of your child doing each task -- sounds really fun!
  4. Let the routine chart be the boss: "What is next on your routine chart?" -- I've been doing something like this already when C gets out of the bath wanting to nurse.  "What do we still have to do before bed?" I ask.  "Pajamas, brush teeth, THEN we nurse."
  5. Do not take away from feelings of capability by adding rewards.
The thing is, I have a 2.5 year old.  Like all children her age, she craves repetition and routine and so we sort of have routines and rituals in place already.  They may not be ideal, they may include some craziness, but they "work" insofar as we do get ready every morning and (eventually) get to sleep every night.  Like my house, my family isn't in perfect condition, but neither is it falling apart. 

Here's a glimpse of our current dinner/bedtime/nighttime/morning "routine" (what typically happens, but not always):

  1. I get dinner made and put it to the side.  DH gets home late (around 8) from work, and C mostly refuses to eat formal dinner without him, but she'll ask for snacks while we wait.  By the time he gets home, she's no longer super hungry.
  2. DH gets home and unwinds a bit while I actually put dinner on the table.
  3. We all sit at the table and DH says it's time to pray before we eat.
  4. C says she doesn't want to pray.
  5. We start to pray without her.
  6. C protests that she wanted to pray.
  7. We start over and/or let her say a prayer.
  8. Eat dinner.  C often doesn't want to eat, gets up and down from the table, climbs in my lap, plays with her food, says she's not hungry. 
  9. With her food only half eaten, C announces she's ready for a bath and asks to ride on Daddy's back.
  10. C rides on daddy's back like a horse or get a piggy back ride from mama to the bathroom.
  11. C takes a long leisurely bath that involves more play than cleaning.
  12. C climbs out of the bath and gets her towel. 
  13. C asks to nurse. 
  14. I remind C that she needs pajamas on and teeth brushed before she can nurse.
  15. We get on pajamas.
  16. C asks to nurse.
  17. I remind C that we need to brush teeth before we nurse.
  18. C protests that she is hungry and usually goes back to the table to get more dinner.
  19. C finishes eating.
  20. Brush teeth
  21. Nurse
  22. C insists on a hug and kiss goodnight from DH.
  23. C insists on having DH refill her water cup (even if it's already full).
  24. All three of us sit together in her darkened room while she winds down.  Sometimes we do a story or song at this point, sometimes I lay down with her, sometimes I hold her until she's asleep and then put her down.
  25. We sneak out of her room somewhere between 9:30 and 10:30.
  26. She wakes up some time between midnight and 2:00 a.m. and joins us in bed.
  27. She wakes up again when the sun comes up and nurses back to sleep.
  28. She wakes up again somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30 asking for breakfast and to go potty.
  29. We get up for the day.
  30. We eat breakfast in our pajamas.
  31. We parents take turns getting ready and dressed.  At some point I help get C ready and dressed.
  32. C and I go outside to water the garden and tend the chickens while DH finishes getting ready.
  33. Wave goodbye to Daddy as he leaves for work.
I'm sure there is VAST room for improvement in this routine.  I believe C needs to be in bed earlier, but until DH's work schedule puts him home earlier, I'm not sure how to make that happen.  The few times I've tried, he arrives home in the middle of the routine and that winds her up/puts off bedtime, or she wakes up when he arrives home.  She needs her Daddy time!

I'd appreciate any help brainstorming ways to tweak this routine, or gentle suggestions of where I can better balance kind and firm.


  1. I think its perfectly fine, beautiful even, that she insists upon her daddy time. I too struggle with getting my booboo to bed early. We usually end up sleeping late or she takes long naps. My boo boo starts preschool soon so schedule tweaking is in order!

  2. Could you bathe her before dinner?

    It's really different here becuase my kids are older and I'm doing it on my own 5 nights a week. School makes us be on a schedule.

    We get home form my work at about 5:10. We play for an hour. I try to serve dinner about 6-6:30. We do home work until 7 or 7:30. We take a bath about 3-4x a week. I have to do two sets of baths so they have to be quicker.

    We do meds at 8 and we read one story on a rotating basis. (I actually write down names). I put the girls to bed at 8 and Ian usually goes to bed at 9. I work out for 30 minutes at 9.

    Ellie and Shannon usually falls asleep as soon as there head hit their pillow. Lauren is up for usually 30 minutes to an hour. She knows the rule is that she may not leave her bed.

    It does get easier as they age.

  3. That sounds a lot like our routine. (I especially related to the prayer part and the bath being more playing than cleaning) :) You have routines. Don't be too hard on yourself.


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