Toddler Tales: The Impossible Schedule

20/12/2011 18:15 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler Tales: The impossible scheduleThis moment of perfect bliss is the reason I am addicted to D's stringent routine

I never thought I would be the type of person who would ever be able to stick to any kind of schedule (kind of why I decided I needed to work from home long before baby came along – although conveniently for me, that now looks like a rather brilliant strategic choice rather than one necessitated by paralytic levels of laziness).

I have abysmally failed at obeying routines my whole life, and this was especially apparent in the early days of parenthood, when other parents were sorting out their children's sleep schedules and organising bathtimes. I left it all to chance, deciding that Baby Diana (with all of the competency that a one-month-old possesses) was capable of dictating her own routine.

No surprise, then, that I was pulling my hair out when my child was still in bed with me at several months old, not sleeping particularly well (and needing a nipple and then a bottle to achieve sleep at all) and not understanding any new thing I tried to implement because it happened at a different time each and every day.

Nowadays, everything's changed. I am a scheduling convert. Our almost to-the-minute routine is the reason D is a bubbly, happy toddler most of the time she's in public, and not her alter-ego, a Sufi-dancing monster crashing through the house/store/restaurant shrieking and flailing herself on the floor in floods of tears.

The thing is, Diana loves her routine and it definitely keeps her sane, but I think I might be losing it. I am so afraid to deviate from my toddler's schedule that normal interactions are becoming tricky.

This is (more or less) what I sent to my friend the other day when attempting to schedule a get-together:

Hi! I can't wait to meet up for lunch this weekend!

The thing is, not to sound like one of those crazies who can't leave the house, but I actually can't. I mean, we can have lunch at 11 (after I give D a vigorous playground workout to help her expend some of that energy) and then I can leave the house but I need to be within a few-block vicinity of the house because I need to make sure Diana is in bed for her nap by noon exactly.

It's not that D can't fall asleep in the buggy if we're out. She will - but she'll only sleep for 20 minutes which means that cranky D will wake up, and cranky D - while adorable, really – isn't actually someone you would necessarily voluntarily want to spend time with.

So I need to block out the hours of 12-3 for D to sleep - she probably won't sleep through that whole block (but she does sometimes!!! So she might!). The thing is, the only way for that to happen is if D is in her own bed. And if I wait too long past noon, she might think she doesn't need a nap, and then things would be disastrous.

So actually, would you mind coming to eat at mine? It will still be at 11, and probably deeply inconvenient for you to get to. And FYI I am still a totally crappy cook and haven't managed to organise a food delivery but we're well-stocked on Weetabix which I think is pretty tasty since D seems to like it...

Oh - and in case you wanted to hang out in the afternoon, I can usually do three-something. But since D needs to be in bed by noon she has a late lunch around two-ish, so I need to take care of that first.

Also, we'll need to be in a house or a baby-friendly locale, and not sort-of a baby-friendly place like the café at Mamas and Papas. Even though it's really cute and has toys for the babies to climb on, there are no doors, so toddlers can run crazed through the store and attempt to pull every baby monitor off the shelf and try out every piece of nursery furniture (not that we've done that or anything, but I'm just saying, it seems likely).

If we meet anywhere that normal, non toddler-laden people go, like a coffee shop, it won't work, I'm afraid. I'll show up 30 minutes late, bedraggled and exhausted, and say: "Hi, how are you? So nice to catch up!" I will spend the next hour chasing D around and catching the odd snippet or two of what you're saying – not enough to contribute – before I realise it's almost rush hour and I need to get home soon for the evening portion of my insane schedule to be implemented.

Yes, I've become an awful friend. But my routine works!

So we could meet at a one o'clock club, or a baby class or playground, or... my house? That sounds like a plan!

Do I sound certifiable yet?

Oh, and if for some reason D refuses to go to sleep, like she did yesterday because Daddy was home recovering from a wisdom tooth operation and she was too excitable to be in his presence to contemplate leaving it, I'm going to have to cancel, even if our plan to meet up is three days away.

Because a day running around after a tantrum-y D, who gets even more hyper when she hasn't slept, will leave me non-functional (and probably with a cold-cum-flu situation) for at least a week.

Two-year-olds seem capable of sitting still – so maybe we'll see you in eight months if this doesn't pan out?

Who knew I'd become such a schedule-stickler?! I'm still me, though, I promise. It's totally not true that babies change you...


The Routine Queen

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