Routines instill order, stability, and a sense of calm – which benefits all new parents. Before I became a mum, I was never good at sticking to routines. By nature, I liked to enjoy my free time unrestrained, without operating under a schedule.
But when Chloe was a few days’ old, after we came home from the hospital and could no longer rely on helpful nurses and doctors to assist with caring for her, I set out to live a life of routines. I was a mum, and I had to be responsible.
So I wrote down our sleeping routine, breastfeeding schedule, a regular day’s agenda, the exact number of times Chloe pooped and peed, etc.
Despite my best effort, within a couple weeks’ time most of the record keeping and routines stopped.
My husband and I lived each day in a haze of sleep deprivation, catching whatever sleep we could whenever we could. I had a general idea of Chloe’s naptime and length, but they still felt largely unpredictable.
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I’m sure that all moms can relate to the period when you’re grasping your child’s cues and rhythms, and figuring out what schedule works best. As time passed and I was familiarized with our baby and my new role as a mum, I once again realized that we needed to have routines. It seemed the only way to remain sane.
Moreover, I wanted my baby to anticipate the events of her day. Yes, she was only a small helpless newborn, and no, I couldn’t actually prove if she was even aware that our schedules were upside-down and all over the place, but I felt strongly that by instilling a few routines, such as regular naptimes, walks, belly time, and bath-book-bed routines, I was providing her a stronger sense of security and warmth.
In a way, building routines together creates an emotional connection so that your baby is better able to trust in you, and in what comes next.
There were variations on our schedule of course, like when we had dinner with friends, play dates, or impromptu outings. I was still up for spontaneity, but I wasn’t all for it as I once was.
No more long brunch dates
You understand, when you have a child, that leisurely 3-hour brunch dates aren’t so practical or enjoyable when your active toddler can’t sit still for that long without flinging pasta on the wall or crawling under the table. You also learn that waking up at noon on weekends is something of the past because when you only have the weekend for family time, you want to make the most of it with your hubby and little ones. It’s necessary to streamline tasks by creating routines, so that you can have more time for fun activities.
Chloe, who is now nearly three years old, just started preschool. When we were selecting schools, I pored over the daily class schedules because I wanted to know what Chloe would be doing at any given time when we were apart. I had transformed into the kind of person who relied on schedules; indeed, they afforded me peace of mind.
Just as kids follow an agenda at school, their hours outside of school should contain a few routines as well. Let’s say there aren’t any set morning routines or bedtimes. There would be chaotic breakfasts and insufficient sleep. And how about other healthy habits, like helping with light chores or organizing and packing their own backpacks every evening? Doing these regularly ensure productivity and efficiency, setting the tone for kids’ time management and organizational success.
Beware not to over schedule your child
Let’s not forget exercise, either. My husband and I take Chloe on walks around the neighborhood after dinner. It takes about 10 minutes but it’s something we all enjoy tremendously. We take comfort in expecting this walk to take place. We can rely on this walk as something to look forward to each day.
And this little routine has turned into our cherished family tradition.
By Jenny Tai
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