Before I had kids, I didn’t realise that routines were such a controversial, touchy subject. But apparently they are, so I’m going to out myself in this post as a routine aficionado. I love routines. I’m a routine junkie. “What’s happening next, Davina?” “I know! I know! I have a ROUTINE.” I actually didn’t start out on the parenting journey thinking I am going to have a routine. It just kind of happened, and it actually happened because, like a lot of babies, Toddler Taylor was extremely fussy from around 5pm every day. He would have a breastfeed on the sofa at 5ish and usually fall asleep when he was done. But he wouldn’t stay asleep for more than about half an hour, then he would wake up crabby and he didn’t want to do anything. Everything made him cross. Except, inexplicably, watching In The Night Garden (which I fucking hate because come on; what is it even about, really?). So we would watch that and then I would muffle him up (even though it wasn’t that cold because it was, I think, August), stick him in the pram and I would walk to the next village and back and he would usually sleep a bit. Then when we got home he’d have a bath, a bottle and go to bed. Eventually, he naturally started to happily stay awake after his 5pm feed and I could put him straight to bed at 7pm, which is what time he still goes to bed now.
However, none of the above is to say that I think there is anything at all wrong with not having a routine or a nap schedule or whatever. It doesn’t work for everyone, just like co-sleeping or baby-led weaning. All of these things are choices that we make with our specific – and very individual – children in mind. For my part, both of my children are largely very happy and sociable little people. They thrive on their routine and we all work better as a family because of it. When anybody else looks after our children, we can tell them what time they usually nap and eat and nobody has to play the tired-or-teething game with Baby Taylor. My husband works different shifts every week, so in the midst of that chaos, having a routine for my children helps me to at least have control over one aspect of our life as a family unit. It helps me to plan. It works for me and it works for my family. I am pro-routine, but I am also pro-doing-whatever-works-for-your-family. So my one teeny little bit of advice here, at the close of this post, is to parent your children in a way that takes care of all of your best interests and not give a toss what anybody else thinks. Mother (and father) knows best!