Juggling a toddler and an infant is definitely one of the most entertaining and exciting chapters of my life. But it can definitely turn into a circus act, too! Therefore, establishing a routine quickly became my top priority. Having a routine allowed all of us to settle into the new changes and transitions that happened over the past 5 months. We were able to adjust our schedules which allowed us all to better spend our time together as a family. It also helped us to deal with each child especially with Micah since we wanted him to adjust well to his little brother. It allowed us to have time for ourselves and with each other as husband and wife.
Because the boys understand the predictability of their schedules, they have learned to adjust and be flexible even if we are at a different place or even in a different timezone. We are able to leave the boys with my wonderful in-laws on weekends so we can catch a late-night movie or go to dinner with friends and come home to them fast asleep. We can also go on road trips or take 14-hour flights with minimal fussing and take vacations with ease. It’s easier for us to find babysitters (family and close friends) to watch the boys for us when we have to attend weddings or “adults only” events because we are confident it will be a pretty “easy” evening or at least I think so…because they still end up babysitting for us again (on another occasion…which I am guessing is always a good sign! haha)
Research has shown that set routines are very important to a child’s sense of well-being and growth. They are happier when they know what to expect because it gives them a sense of security and comfort. This helps them trust adults and feel more comfortable in exploring their environment. With my little one, settling him on a fairly predictable pattern has definitely helped him a lot. I structured his naps to sync with his older brother’s with occasional mishaps. This definitely allows me to have some “me time,” cook, take care of the house, fold the never-ending laundry pile, and even take a shower! But the first rule of establishing a routine was: NIGHT TIME IS SLEEP TIME!
Predictable routines also encourage learning. Waving hello and saying goodbye are some social routines that adults quickly introduce to children. Routines help children make transitions between activities and events. Remember, routines don’t have to be rigid to be effective. Flexibility and variations are fine as long the child knows what will ultimately happen in the end. Children feel safe and also develop a sense of mastery when a routine has been established. Helping them create a structure allows them to internalize constructive habits that eventually lead to independence and confidence. Of course you have to throw in some spontaneity to spice things up a little bit sometimes. Staying up to pick up your visiting relatives from the airport or hanging out with a friend can certainly be a welcome exception!
Benefits of Having a Routine in our Home
1. I can cooperate!
Micah knows exactly what to do when we say “go upstairs and get ready for bed.” Of course, now that he is able to negotiate, he often asks to read one more book or he needs to drink water but other than those predictable requests, he knows what needs to be done before bed. Titus, on the other hand, also benefits from the same bedtime routine. Once we are done with reading, singing, and praying with both of them (and drinking milk for Titus), they both know that they will be escorted to bed, given hugs, and kisses and it’s see you in the morning. Titus falls asleep on his own once we lay him down in his bed, too. This definitely reduces power-struggle and nagging!
2. I’m in charge!
Micah loves being in charge of himself. He loves being independent. Most kids do! Giving them the freedom to do things for themselves increases their sense of mastery and competence. Being independent decreases the need to rebel and be oppositional.
3. I can look forward!
Micah is slowly understanding the concept of looking forward to something. He is learning that once he wakes up from his nap, he can have some quiet reading or Lego time. It gets him excited for what is ahead. It may be an occasional trip to the park or playing in the sandbox, too.
4. I am expected to obey joyfully.
Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents for this is the right thing to do.”
Micah knows that this is what happens in our home. He is expected to obey mommy and daddy because it pleases God. With a routine, we are most likely expected to stick with healthy expectations that benefit everyone in the family, because that’s the way we do it in our household. This results to healthy habits in a happy home, where everything runs a little more smoothly (for most days at least).
5. I am intentionally loved!
We enjoy doing things with our boys but we like to have down time too. We love just rolling around on the ground and dancing to random made-up songs together as a family. I think they do, too! Micah looks forward to his special time with daddy after dinner when they read books, play basketball, throw the football or hit golf balls together. I love hearing them laugh together and enjoy each other. Titus loves tummy time with Daddy before he goes to work in the morning. He actually gets up around the same time everyday because he knows his dad will pick him and bring him to our bed to snuggle with him. More than anything, these are the memories I want the boys to have with us. That we set aside time apart just for them. Building little connection rituals into your schedules every day allow these precious moments to happen. Making a habit to set aside bonding moments with your children creates a sense of security, an environment of love and a lasting memory of special connections that only you and your child can have.
It can be really challenging having an infant and a toddler at the same time but having a set of routines will help your family life more manageable and enjoyable. It’s also good to have your husband partner with you in imposing these routines so that your kids will know that these are the house rules to be followed even if one of the parents is not around. Each day will have spur of the moment incidents that you can’t control and that’s fine. Just deal with it and go back to your routine. It takes patience and practice. Soon enough you’ll realize that each member of your family benefits from the routines you’ve put in place.
|8:30-9:00||Wake up/ Quiet reading time|
|9:00-9:30||Brush teeth / Breakfast|
|9:30-12:30||Homeschool/ Work Time (errands, museum, swimming class, library)|
|10:15-12:00||Titus’s morning nap|
|1:00-1:30||Quiet reading time|
|1:30-3:30||Both boys nap|
|3:30-5:30||Quiet reading time/ Lego|
|7:50-8:15||Wash up, ready for bedtime|
|8:15-8:30||Read, sing, pray|