My Facebook has been pinging with the obligatory back to school and starting school or daycare photos. It’s so cute and marks the beginning of a new journey for children and parents alike. It’s time to get back into a routine.
So this week it’s back to reality in our household. My youngest starts in Year 8 and my eldest, well let’s just say he was very happy for me not to enter his Year 10 classroom, so he went to early morning swimming training instead! It did tug at my heart strings that I was no longer needed for first day of school. It just felt like yesterday I dropped him off at Kindy and now he seems so grown up and independent. Where do the years go? I know many of you reading this will just have little bubbas. However, those school years can seem like miles away but I assure you they will be here before you know it!
Back to Routines
The school holidays were great and we all enjoyed some down time but it was definitely good to start to get back into some sort of routine this week. I don’t know about you but I definitely need a routine. My kids also thrive on routine, generally speaking a routine helps a child feel safe. Change can be stressful for anyone but a child will begin to learn what is expected of them when they follow a routine.
Babies and children don’t understand the concept of time so their world is measured by the order of events. In their little minds they’re thinking “so what happens next?”. Young children like predictability and will be easier to manage when they already know what’s coming.
Examples such as giving your child a 10 minute warning before packing up the toys, will give them a cue as to what is going to happen next, although you may need to nag to get them to listen. As adults we don’t like to be harshly interrupted if we’re in the middle of reading a book or enjoying a nice meal. It’s the same for your child!
A bedtime ritual can be very helpful for babies, young children and even older children like mine, heck it’s also helpful for adults! Having a bath or shower, getting dressed for bed and then reading a book is a good start to a bed time routine. You might like to read all about the importance of sleep and a consistent bedtime routine for adults in our blog “Your Health is Your Wealth”.
Routine For Babies
It’s never too early to introduce your baby to a bed time routine. We recommend to start your night time routine with a warm bath, then pop baby in their baby sleeping bag or swaddle, then quiet time or read a book and then into bed. It’s like a “countdown” for your baby so they know what to expect after each step. It also means that your baby will learn the routine regardless of whether Mum, Dad, grandparents or a nanny/babysitter put them to bed. Even for daytime naps you can follow the routine (minus the bath). Baby will start to recognise that it’s time to wind down and get ready for a nap. Even if your baby is very little, it will set up their sleep routine as they grow older.
When baby is a few weeks old you can start to introduce him to the difference between night and day. During the night you should keep the lights dimmed, avoid eye contact and speaking loudly. During the day the house noise should be kept as normal as possible and the room not quite so dark. You can change your baby’s clothes in the morning to show him that it is the start of a new day. When baby is awake you can talk to him and play. Feeding can also be a time to chat so that baby doesn’t nod off in the middle of a feed and want to go back to bed.
Use a Sleep Cue
Bubbaroo’s range of sleepwear can be a very helpful addition to your sleep routine. Our Joey Swag Baby Sleeping Bag, Joey Pouch Swaddle Wrap and Joey Pod Transitional Swaddle can be used to help cue your little one into their sleep routine. When you put them in their Bubbaroo sleepwear, they know that soon it will be time to go into the cot and settle off to sleep. You can use the Bubbaroo range for all sleeps whether day or night. Baby sleeping bags and swaddles are a cue that doesn’t have to be replaced during the night like a dummy or a special toy. Which hopefully means less sleep interruptions for you during the night.
Prioritise Baby’s Needs
Put your baby’s routine as a priority if possible. Of course you still need to have a life but if you constantly break the routine, what’s the point of having one? Try to only break the routine for special occasions. You might alter the routine slightly for a special birthday or when travelling on holidays but the sooner you get back on track after the “special occasion” the better.
The Routine Can Change as Baby Grows
Remember that over time routines will need to change and adapt. During growth spurts, sleep regressions or teething your baby may be unsettled or change the timing of their usual activities. A lot happens in the first year of life so there will be times when baby adjusts his own routine to eat more, sleep more or less or be a bit fussier than normal. You will also need to adjust the routine as the child grows. They will start to be awake for longer and have more periods of play during the day time.
Routine For Older Children & Parents
Routine can make your life easier.
Having a routine minimises decisions to be made and everyone knows what is expected. Adults really are no different – routine gives us stability and we know what to expect. I know I benefit greatly from routines and I’m going to add the following to my routine to help with my general well being and to get back on track:
A consistent sleep routine can have enormous benefits for both children and adults by increasing your energy levels, improving mental health and the ability to concentrate at work or school and even every day tasks. I know when I’ve had a bad night because I’ve stayed up working or have something on my mind. The next day I have serious brain fog and I start to feel overwhelmed! It’s like a vicious circle of lack of sleep, not being efficient and feeling like I’m in a daze. As a result my New Year’s resolution was to focus on my sleep per My Health is My Wealth blog.
Exercise as part of your Routine
We all need to find time for exercise. It makes us feel great and sleep better. I’ve been going on walks with my fur daughter most mornings and attend pilates at least once a week!
Time to relax
Whether it’s with friends, reading a book or watching tv, mediation or yoga take time to relax and do whatever makes you happy regularly. We’re all busy people but making time for yourself will help your mood and how you react with those nearest and dearest to you. Seriously, schedule some time into your diary just for you each day.
Regular meal times and healthy foods are an important part of my routine. I’ve fallen off the wagon in this regard too and seriously need to get back on track after general holiday indulgences. We try to eat dinner together as a family every night. For busy families or FIFO workers it might be one night during the week or a day on the weekend or when the Mum or Dad are home. Whatever works for you and your family. It’s funny to reflect back because our meal times have become later as the kids have got older. When they were young we’d eat at 5.30 or 6pm but now they’re older it’s more like 7.30 or 8pm!
When you first introduce a routine to the family, such as the start of school or kindy, it might take a little while to get into the swing of things. In no time at all it will feel like the new normal. If your child resists the routine initially, make sure you have a plan in place so that you can try to ease them back on track. It will require some strength on your part, but should make life easier in the long run – consistency is key. Sometimes easier said than done!
What do you find helpful to implement in your family routine?