I’ll be honest, as first time parents with a babe whose favorite hobbies are eating and observing the world around him, our first several months of our little’s life in the sleep department were beyond rough. One of the biggest game changers for us, however, was finally creating an effective routine for all of us and sticking to it each and every day. Now, I can honestly say something that during those long days and nights, I wasn’t sure would ever come out of my mouth – our little man is a pretty darn good sleeper! Not only that, (and I don’t want to jinx it) but our morning and bedtime routines run pretty much like clockwork around here these days.
That being said, let it be known that there is really no magic to the actual steps in our routines. For the most part all of the actions are pretty typical I’d say for many families, probably even your own. The following are the sequence of events we follow each morning and evening:
1. Wake up
2. Change diaper/clothing
3. Brush teeth
4. Prepare breakfast
5. Eat breakfast
1. Change diaper/clothing
2. Brush teeth
3. Read bedtime story
Like I said, there are no bells and whistle’s here folks.
Routines, specifically those that take place before bed, should not be long, drawn out endeavors. They should be short and sweet, and each piece should serve a purpose. Our morning routine, including breakfast on the table, takes less than 30 minutes and our bedtime routine is around 15 minutes total.
Now let’s chat a bit about predictability. As a teacher myself, I know what an impact having predictable routines can have on a classroom full of students and honestly, it couldn’t be more true of my journey as a mother. While I am certainly all for adventure and spontaneity, here and there, throughout our days, I have found that the beginning and the end of the day just aren’t the right spaces for that for our little guy. He needs a predictable pattern he can rely on. Frankly, we all do.
Because of this, we are fairly firm on bedtime at our house. We start our above routine around 6:15pm each evening, and Asher is in bed by 6:30pm. While morning wakeup time varies a bit each day, Asher usually wakes up between 6:00-6:30am, upon which we then complete the above morning routine. Does it require a bit of sacrificing on our part at times to ensure our child is in bed at this time each night? And does our child ever have to miss out on events so that he can hit the hay? Yes, sometimes. But for us, setting up healthy sleep patterns for him have been well worth the effort.
Not only are we predictable with the timeline of our routines, but the order as well. We do our best each day to follow the steps the same way so that Asher knows what to expect. For instance, we always sing our toothbrushing song as we brush our teeth (see more of this here). We always read one book before bed. And, praying is always the last thing we do together before we place Asher in his crib for the night.
Within this structure, we also offer Asher choices at specific points along the way. This enables him to have a sense of empowerment and connectedness to our routines as well. For instance, he always gets to choose the book he reads before bed. He can choose whether he wants to sit on mama or dada’s lap for prayer or whether he prefers to sit on the floor himself. And he also has the choice each morning of whether he’d like to play or “help” us prepare breakfast in the kitchen. While the steps of the routines were determined by us as his parents, I have found that providing Asher with some of this flexibility to make choices within them is equally as important to their success.