How important is a routine…really?

I’ve heard this question asked many times.

While either at an in-person consultation, or doing a virtual call, I most-often get a stunned look when I tell parents that their child’s routine has to be the same (if not – SO SIMILAR) every night.

I also hear “my toddler hates routines. They thrive off of spontaneity.”

*cue cringing*

FIRSTLY – I love to travel. Except, I felt physically sick when I thought about travelling with Drake. He is so wonderful, but tiny and SO BUSY. I worried about him sleeping and had literal nightmares of him crying for hours and hours and hours and no one would sleep the entire vacation. Fast forward to landing in Hawaii at 4am our time….Drake was falling asleep in his carseat and I was panicking. OH NO, he will not sleep tonight if he has a quick nap in there, my nightmare has begun.

We arrive at our location and he is now awake…panic is setting in. I looked over at Nathan and said “I’ll get his sleep stuff ready – you start the bath.”

His response, “do you think the bath is necessary? He’s probably so tired.”

“uhhhhhhhh YES”

Fast forward again – routine complete, sound machine on, lovie in crib, voila, goodnight, adios, au revoire. He was asleep, little angel.

Toddlers are testy little creatures. They are little masterminds and are always trying to push the limits and extend the boundaries. They are manipulative (in a good way) because they know exactly how to get what they want. If we were all like feisty toddlers, there would be WAY too many CEO’s, Salespeople, etc.

That being said, even if you think you know your child doesn’t need routine….THEY. NEED. ROUTINE.

What is the purpose? A routine’s purpose is to act as a cueing mechanism in our brain to signify that something is coming. In our case, sleep.

I recommend a bedtime routine to be around 30 minutes long. This is the perfect length of time to prepare for bed. Too short, and the child won’t be stimulated by the routine enough for the cues to work. Too long, and the child will be confused as to when the routine is over and when is the next step happening.

So when do you even get started? TODAY.

Even if your child is 5 and you’re thinking they’re too far gone, they’re not. Start a routine tonight.

An example of a bedtime routine could be: Bath, Pj’s/Sleep Sack, Milk, Story, Bed.

*It is IMPORTANT that your child does not fall asleep while the routine is happening. That means they were too tired when it started, or you’ve carried it on for too long.*

Think about your personal routine. You’ve got one. Mine goes something like this: Brush teeth, floss, wash face, lotion, pj’s, set alarm, bed. Subconsciously we are always seeking for routine and familiarity. That’s why you can fall asleep so much better in your own bed vs a hotel or a friend’s house.

It’s our job to teach our children how important routines are by implementing them into their lives.

If this feels too hard and maybe a little impossible to get your child to listen to you (toddlers, AMIRIGHT?) reach out to me. I guarantee I can help.

So now tell me, what’s your child’s current routine?


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