When I have a to-do list of things that NEED to get done SOON, but have no real deadlines, I have a hard time sitting down and completing the tasks. And it's always things that really should get done like the laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, catching up on my blog, organizing photos, etc. Because if I don't do them, they are continuing to get worse EVERY DAY.
Sometimes I just wander around my house KNOWING there is SOMETHING that needs to be done. But I don't have any motivation to do it, and frankly have no idea what it is I need to be doing. It's at this point that the only thing to do is to write down what I NEED to get done and create my own deadlines. It's at this point that a routine is a HUGE help to me. It helps me make better use of my time, and things actually get done. I don't feel as lost, and my brain doesn't go into overdrive thinking about all the things that I need to get done.
Having a routine helps me control the things in my life that just have to happen to make the rest of my life function. You all have these certain things, right? If you don't do your exercise in the morning, the rest of your day doesn't go as well. If you don't do laundry on your specified laundry days, you end up doing it all at once, and never get the chance to actually put it away. So then you're living out of the clean laundry basket, and suddenly everything is dirty again and you're not sure how it happened, right? But when I stick to a routine: exercise in the morning, eat a healthy breakfast, work while my girls are napping, etc., my day, and really my entire week, goes so much better. And I assume the same is true for all of you. If it's not, please tell me how you handle life in general! I want to hear from you!
So when someone asks if a bedtime routine is necessary for our children, I think you all know the answer. General routines for our children are, of course, incredibly helpful. When a child knows what to expect next, there is less fighting, less "wandering around the house", and just less confusion in general. And I would guess that your children watch a lot less television when you stick to some kind of routine.
The same goes for bedtime. A lot of parents out there believe their bedtime routine is the trick to get their kids to sleep at night. Some swear it's the bath they give their child right before bed, making sure to use lavender lotion all over their child's body so they will start to relax. Some swear it's the 20 books they read after their kids are ready for bed because that is also relaxing. But it's not so much the WHAT of your routine, it's the fact that you have a routine at all.
So if you feel like a horrible mother because you don't bathe your child every night, and you heard that's what gets kids to sleep, stop it right now. Again, it's not the WHAT, it's having a routine at all. Here at my house, we brush our teeth, change diapers (for my diaper-wearing children), go to the bathroom (for my potty-trained child), then get in cribs/bed. After that, we sit down and read two books each. I have to limit the amount of books or we would be up all night. Ya feel me? We say prayers, give kisses and hugs, and that's that. After we are done, I can hear my kids reading to themselves, or my twins chattering to each other, and then everybody is asleep. It's like magic.
But did I give them a bath? No. In fact, I don't love to give my children a bath EVERY day, unless they are particularly dirty from playing. Why? My children have sensitive skin, and bathing their skin every day actually makes their skin more dry. Do I use essential oils to calm them? Nope. But can YOU? ABSOLUTELY.
Just don't ever feel like there is something you HAVE to do to get them in bed. Create your own routine. And most importantly, do something that works for YOU. It can be a five minute routine, it can be a half hour routine. Your routine doesn't have to be like anybody else's. It just has to suit you and your children.
So find something that works for you mamas! There is no wrong answer here. By simply having a routine each night, you're creating a trigger for your child that says, it's time for bed now. Consistency is key. Keep up all the great work!
- Mama Jackie
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series and Jackie will address your specific issue!*