I like to put people into two boxes. The ones naturally tending towards routines, aka control freaks, and the ones who don't...let's just call them *ahem* slackers.
Not sure about you, but I'm a thrill seeker (that is code for slacker here). I want the cliffhanger and the unknown. Structure, routine? Nah, I'm good...And yes, it's me, the woman who demands a solid bedtime routine for our children.
A bedtime routine. This is where it all ends. At 7 sharp, every evening. Without fail. Is this a U-turn if we've ever seen one? What happened to us? Why? Let's run by some home truths.
Truth No. 1: Spontaneity goes to pot as soon as we bring a child into the equation. The ability to go wherever we want - whenever we want - shrinks in proportion to our family size. Flying by the seat of our pants works perfectly fine if it's just us and a friend about. With kids in tow, things become premeditated. Little people need to be places at specific times and they need to be fed, watered and cleaned regularly.
Truth No. 2: The Routine underlines your elevated position in the family. You've heard right, it supports your authority. Go on and let your inner Louis XV shine. Why nag? Let the routine speak for you. There's no need to get loud. It's the routine signalling what you're all doing next and when you're doing it. Stick to this and your child hopefully won't question you.
Truth No. 3: You must stick to the program like a donkey. You're looking for that curve ball. Something, anything, to chop your day up a bit. You long to break a few rules here and there, cut corners, dish out exceptions. Just because you can. Well...don't do it. Your kids won't share your subtle sense of humour and your discernment of what may be appropriate in a situation. Your kids will assume you don't know what you're doing if you stray off the beaten path. And here's an added complication: the closer your child is to two years old, the more they'll dislike you bending family rules. You might even have a revolt on your hands.
Truth No. 3: Yes you can hypnotise your children. Just don't tire. Channel the pied piper and keep enforcing the same old same old. You may find your kids willing to go along with your spiel. Step by step. I used to have a wall chart up with the steps for a bedtime routine for my kids. There was no discussion, and no distraction. All there was to do was follow the path leading them into bed. This works. Just make sure it happens every day at the same time, in exactly the same way.
Truth No. 4: Being in charge of their routines makes kids happy. Or should that read: Being "in charge" of their routines makes kids happy? Whichever camp we're in, the news is good. Knowing what comes next will make your kids feel in control of their life. They'll know what to do and realise they can do stuff by themselves. This will give them confidence and make them feel a little bit stronger. Call it life skills if you like (that's growing up to you and me).
That's all there is to it. These are my four home truths. I'll admit that every single one of them was hard to swallow for me. But three small kids (who don't want to go to bed) later, and I'm a slave to the routine. I've almost turned into a robot. I know. Your inner teenager is rolling his eyes at all this dull article about routines. Send him to his room.
And then come and jump the routine bandwagon with me. Hey...you're already there?!
Now hop over and check out my bedtime routine app for children. It's going to be completely FREE to download until this coming Sunday. And I'd be eternally grateful if you could bring yourself to write a review or rate the app so I'll have new ammunition to create another one soon.