Kids screaming their faces off because they are overly tired, snack time is all day, brains are fried from too much t.v., and mom is in the corner crying from exhaustion. This is what I visualize my home being like without a routine. Maybe it is the teacher in me, but this old gal needs some structure in her life and so do my kids.
If we don’t create our kid’s routine, who do you think will? Do we really want a two year old running the show? I can see my little man calling the shots….
2 Year Old Driven Routine
4 a.m. – UP and ready to rock in roll
5 a.m. – Chocolate for breakfast
6 a.m. – 9 a.m.- Lay on the couch, watch Paw Patrol, and eat cheetos for snack
9 a.m.- 11 a.m.- Play with his iPad and cry for a hour when the game doesn’t work the way he wants
11 a.m.- Chips for lunch in bed
12 p.m.- 3 p.m.- Cry and scream to keep from falling asleep
Not a bad schedule huh? Okay, I realize it wouldn’t be that bad, but kids need a routine. If they know what to expect, it will be easier for them to accept.
So let’s go ahead and establish that it will BE HARD and take willpower to get our kids on a healthy routine, but it will totally payoff! It was exhausting trying to get my kids to take a nap… not even a scheduled nap…I am talking about a nap in general without me holding them. Why not go ahead and try to push for a routine because it will be hard regardless.
I use the term routine oppose to schedule. With a newborn and young children at home, things change. Flexibility has to be apart of the process, but I do strive for the same times everyday. The earlier you create some sort of routine, the easier it will be. You wait until they have set their own habits into play… it’ll be much harder to break. . One way or another.. habits will be created… either by the help and guidance of the parents or the child.
Here is an example of our daily routine with my two kids give or take (Brooks, 2, and Harper, 1)
7:30: Wake Up
8: Eat Breakfast (Served with three different food groups)
8:30-11: 30 : Flexible playtime (play in playroom, arts/crafts, go outside, read books, etc.) This is also the time we run errands or get out of the house. Mainly because it isn’t as crowded in the mornings, and it is a larger window between their wake up time and nap time. I’ve realized if I go anywhere when it is close to their nap, they’ll fall asleep in the car for maybe 10 minutes… and it is brutal later for them to take a nap considering they had a “power nap”… which then turns into 5 o’clock screaming fest.
11:30-12:15 : Lunch time (Served with three different food groups) I usually read them a book during lunch. I have a really picky eater, so I realized reading a book (usually ends up being 5 books) during their lunch not only is educational but helps him finish his meal.
12:30- 1:15: Playtime which usually consists of us dancing our faces off in the living room. My kids LOVE to dance…. plus it gets them worn out for their nap.
1:15- 3:30: BOTH kids take a nap. My son knows by now it is nap time and jumps in his bed. Harper on the other hand… still some getting used to. That girl doesn’t want to miss a thing.
3:30-4: We watch some t.v. and eat a small snack (I say small because I want them to eat their supper). I am not the biggest t.v. fan, but I don’t think it is the devil either. There are actually some really good educational shows I love such as Little Einsteins, Super Why, and Team UmiZoomi, Plus… we all need a few minutes to relax and wake up.
4-6: We are usually outside or arts/crafts. I love themed days, so most of these activities take place in the afternoon.
6-6:30: Supper (Served with three different food groups)
7:00-7:30: We all lay in bed and watch movies then read a book.
Why Kids Need a Routine
When Two Kids are In the Picture: I can admit… I was a little nervous when I found out I was pregnant again. Tackling two kids under two…. yikes. Since Brooks was already on a routine, it made my days run so much more smoothly. I always planned my day around both of the kids. For instance, I knew Brooks would wake up at 7:30, so I would make sure Harper was fed beforehand and his breakfast was ready.
Every Mom Needs Mom Time: As Harper got older, it became easier for me to schedule both the kids nap time at 1 which gave me some time to do whatever it is I needed to do (of course us moms have a MILLION things to do… laundry, dishes, getting out of our pjs, and the list goes on and on).
Time with Your Significant Other: Bedtime is also a way for my husband and I to spend time together. It is early enough that I am not drooling at the mouth by the time the kids go down. We can actually spend time together which EVERY married couple needs in order to maintain a healthy relationship.
Prepare Them for School: Not only will a flexible routine create a more positive environment, but it will prepare our babies for school. Their heads won’t spin when the teacher establishes her routine. They’ll expect the routine and won’t go into a complete whirlwind when the teacher’s schedule doesn’t quit match their own since they’ve been running the show for years.
Healthy Eating Habits: Kids need to have a healthy eating habit which is 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. Think about us… we are used to pretty much eating at the same times everyday, so we don’t over eat or snack all day. Babies and toddlers will pretty much snack (especially junk) all day if we let them. It’s important to create healthy eating habits in the beginning.
To Cry or Not to Cry?: Okay I have two kids with two VERY different personalities. My oldest…. literally runs to his bed for nap time…. almost as if he’s excited. On the other hand, my daughter knows she will take a nap regardless… but always marches to her room shaking her chubby little hand with an attitude. Even though they are so different, they have both realized what is the point of crying and fighting it… it’s going to happen kinda deal. I won’t say that every single day is easy… but I can safely say about 80% of the time they go down without a fight. Plus consistency has created a habit for them.. their bodies know it is time to lay down. With both babies taking their full naps, it cuts down on the overly tired cries I remember so vividly.
How to Create a Healthy Routine
CONSISTENCY: I can not say this enough… picture me with a megaphone screaming at the top of my lungs “CCCCOOOOONNNNSSSIIIISSSSTTTTTEEENNNCCCYYY!” Create a routine and stick to it. I don’t mean repeat it for a week and throw it out… I mean repeat it for months. Of course a change here and there is okay, but in the beginning it is important to keep it stable. Repeating the same routine will help you both get on the same page.
Set the Mood: Do you want to sleep in a steamy room with the sun beaming on your face? Of course not…. neither do our kids. When it comes to creating a sleep routine… create a peaceful sleeping environment. I always shut the curtains, made sure it wasn’t hot in their rooms and played a sound machine (sleep baby app) to block out any outside noises. When they were newborns, I made SURE at night I wouldn’t turn on any lights to stimulate them. I would feed them in the dark and put them right back down. Newborns are all over the place in the beginning stages and tend to get their nights confused with their days. We have to teach them the difference by creating a peaceful and calm environment during the nighttime hours. Half the time I wouldn’t even make eye contact directly…. I would just close my eyes and peek.
Positive Reinforcement: Stay positive at all times. When it is time to eat or nap, be pumped about it! Do a little nap time dance…. Remind him how he needs rest, so he can play even harder when he wakes up. I usually plan my themed days after nap time… and tell them we have something fun to do if they can take a good nap.
Follow Their Lead: When my babies were first born, we documented everything in a little notebook…. when they slept…when they ate….how much they ate….when they pooped… you get the picture. Using this notebook gave us a good idea on what routine they were already creating. We just had to make their own routine into habits. For instance, if Harper ate every morning at 7 and then again at 10…. we would strive for this time everyday. When Harper did cry way before her eating times, I would make sure there was no other reason she could be crying before I popped a bottle in her mouth. Sometimes she just wanted to cry… sometimes she had gas… overtime I could tell her cries apart pretty easily. Most of the time she ate at the same exact times like clockwork. This made it easier to travel or run errands as well. If we did get off track (usually it wouldn’t be more than 5-10 minutes), I would start the next day the same way.
Growth Spurts: ALWAYS take growth spurts into consideration. I always used the wonder weeks app. It showed me signs and abilities my baby was facing at that particular time. This helped me when they wouldn’t sleep well or wanted to eat more/less. I knew I had to make accommodations to help through their dark days.
Bedtime Routine: All kids need a bedtime routine to start winding down. It is a way of letting them know bedtime is right around the corner, so be ready. We always fed, bathed, pajamas, and read books before we laid our kids down. By the time we laid them down, they weren’t shocked or mad… they knew the time had come.
Routines are so important for kids….. for moms… and for the environment as a whole. It is without a doubt hard initially, but trust me… you will be glad you did it in the long run!
Luke 11:36- If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.
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