5 Reasons We Should Have A Routine - But Don't
When we first had Rory we read all the articles, received all the parenting advice, heard all the stories about why having a routine is good for your kids. Now, I 100% agree that when our kids have routine? Things tend to go a little smoother. And while we try hard to have a pretty regular routine with them - it often gets thrown on its head, or off a cliff... one or the other.
So here are some reasons we should have a routine - but don't.
1. Limiting tantrums
When you don't have a regular routine, there are bound to be a few more screaming fits than usual. Kids don't have a lot of control over their lives, so when you switch something up on them, especially last minute? They have a meltdown. Sometimes? This is unavoidable. Like the other day when I promised my kids they could swim in the pool at our apartment complex only to show up and find it closed because they can't get the mixture of chemicals right in the freaking water.
Why yes, my son is stomping on the sidewalk because he can't go to the pool. And while I am asking him to calm down, if you don't get someone up there to fix it in the next 24 hours? I am going to be doing a lot more than stomping all over your office, because our rent is WAY too high for you to not have the FREAKING POOL OPEN.
We try to avoid the meltdowns by giving lots of warning (10 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes, 2, 1, etc.) before we leave/switch activities/go somewhere. We also try to never make promises we can't keep (stupid apartment complex...). And once I do promise? We are doing it. Pool is closed? Let's hit the lake. I promised my kids swim time and for the love of the land, we are going to get wet. Through Hell or high waters, I will make my promises happen. Because when your kids have lived in 5 different homes in the last year? You gotta find consistency somewhere.
Seconds before a meltdown about the gold fish being gone - because they ate them all. The horror!
Nice transition. Consistency puts kiddos at ease. We wake up at any point between 6:00am and 8:30am, then we do anything from throw our kids in the car, sit on our computers and work, kick me (Malia) out the door to teach yoga at the crack of dawn, or something else. So where do we find our consistency if not in a routine? Comfort stuff mostly. Rory has had the same pillow case since he was old enough for a pillow. We splurge to purchase the kids fancy, shmancy, organic cereal that they LOVE and have every day (dry) for breakfast with some kind of fruit - god forbid we offer them something different like pancakes or eggs or anything else. Jinora and Rory always sleep next to one another, Jinora sleeps on the left and Rory sleeps on the right. They have their specific blankets and their specific stuffed animals that we have lugged around the freaking planet. We might spend one day out of the house from sun up to sun down and the next trapped in the apartment while Mom & Dad work their tails off on the computers, but there are some things that don't change: vegan fruit snacks from Costco, yoga, and the "I Love You Stinky Face" book.
3.Sense of security.
Life is full of unknowns, which can be stressful! Especially for kiddos. So having a routine to rely on allows that stress to remain securely on strange looking vegetables and not being allowed to purchase ALL the Legos at the Lego Store. Fortunately, our tinies are numb to our lack of schedule. Last minute run to the grocery store or planned drive to Church on Sunday morning? It's still gonna take us 30 minutes to get ready to get out the door and another 10 to get down to the car even though the elevator ride is only 1 minute... with children time both stands still and moves at light speed. Due to their numbness around our routine-less life, we are able to instill fears in them in other aspects of life - like tiny dogs (not big dogs, those are like much friendlier versions of horses and are beloved), cereal that does not have an animal on the box (clearly has anthrax as the main ingredient, and Saturdays without movies (Satan's cruelest level of purgatory).
Bedtime at LAX - this isn't normal?
4. Looking forward.
One of the things I hear/read a lot is that routines create a sense of "something to look forward to" for children. I don't know if they are talking about older kids, but they are certainly not talking about mine. Even if we have a set routine, for them it means fussing until we get to that enjoyable thing - making the whole experience far less enjoyable for me. That is one thing that I do love about our spontaneous schedule; everything is an adventure! Instead of saying "We are going to the grocery store!" or "Let's go to the bank!" I get to say "Put shoes on, we are going on an adventure." And maybe that means we stand in line to pick up a box at the front office of our apartment complex or maybe it means we are going hiking - but whatever it is, it becomes an adventure for my tiny humans.
You can't plan moments like this - you can only hover around your children with your smart phone until they do something cute so you can document it and showcase your happy-go-lucky-life on the internet.
5. Everyone else does.
Yeeeeeahhhhh, no. We have already seen how that has worked out for our family in the past. When we do what general wisdom dictates? We usually fall and hurt ourselves on that curb that is not tall enough to be a full step, but too short to get over at a normal walk. Awkward skinned knees. That is not to say that routine is bad! It's not bad - it can be very good! This whole blog is pointing out that routine can be very good. We all need to accept that there is not one bullet proof method of parenting and just share what works for us individually in case it helps someone else out there. There is no judgement here!
Unless you are feeding your children a non-organic, gluten-infested, animal-product-laced snack, then you're probably going to hell for being a bad parent.
I'll see you there, buddy.