A routine is a rather fagile thing.
Now I am firmly in the school of thought that I will not be slave to my child’s routine and nap times; if they have the God-given right to throw their routine up in the air at times (teething, poorly, over-tired or just being a little tinker) then so do I for my own reasons (want you to nap at a more convinient time, want to go shopping, too busy to remember to put you to bed). However, the odd tinker with an established routine is OK four days of throwing it up in the air can only lead to tears.
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Our routine is simple – up in the morning, breakfast of porridge or oatibix for Ben, breakfast of shredded wheat for me after Ciaran has a breast feed. In the last week or so we have introduced ‘real’ breakfast for Ciaran after I finish my bowl of cereal, weetabix or toast, and then around 9-10 Ciaran has his bottle and a nap which can happen before or after we all get washed, teeth brushed and dressed.
Ciaran gets up around 11 we play for a bit, Ben has lunch around 12 – 12.30 Ciaran has a bottle before or after Ben’s lunch. I eat some lunch and both boys nap around 2 (Ben may or may not nap depending on his mood). Both boys are up and playing around 3.30 – 4. Ciaran has another bottle and another bash at eating real food before Ben has his tea around 5.
Ciaran goes up at 6, has a bath every other night, a bottle and bed. Ben goes up at 7, stays in the bath for as long as he possibly can, brushes his teeth, has his puffer and goes to bed.
It all went wrong towards the end of the week. On Thursday I took both boys to Jelly Tots for messy play. Ben got messy, Ciaran missed his morning nap and dozed in my arms towards the end. We went to my Mum’s and Ciaran slept for ages in the travel cot, Ben decided he didn’t want to nap when there was so much fun to be had so neither child napped in the 2-4 slot. Bedtime wasn’t too bad- Ben was a little fractious but nothing I couldn’t handle.
On Friday we popped next door to meet the neighbours (a very nice part time teacher and her lovely 15 month old Martha) who Ben loved. We invited them to come over and play at icing gingerbread men in the afternoon, so Ciaran again missed the morning nap slot, napped through lunch and couldn’t nap in the afternoon nap time. This was very exciting for Ben who fell deeply in love and was distraught when Martha had to go to her house.
Later that evening (around 6) my cousin, his partner and their month old baby came over for the evening. Ciaran sat up for a little and then went to bed supposedly. As we were going to bed late I skipped a bath. Ben sat up and shared Domino’s Pizza with us adults until at 7.30 he was too tired and grumpy for polite company and was taken kicking and screaming to bed by his evil mother.
Ben’s howls woke Ciaran up, having ate late, ate loads of gingerbread men and icing Ben was very hard to settle, in the end I lay in bed next to him quietly reciting Goodnight Moon as he finally drifted off. Was I ready to join the adults and watch The Shining? No. Instead I was consoling a distraught baby who was not able to get himself back to sleep. I kept soothing him a little, putting him down, telling myself he would be fine within 10 minutes and then having to run back up the stairs to help him after 15 minutes screaming.
Eventually around 8.30 he was sat in the nursery cradled in my arms looking up at me, happily cooing and enjoying some Mummy-Ciaran time while a bottle of milk warmed up. After an extra bottle of milk he wasn’t asleep but at least he was content to lie in his cot and coo-ed happily until he fell asleep just after 9pm.
Good God – what has gone wrong with our routine and how can it get worst?
Saturday Ciaran had his morning nap (hooray) and was then bundled off to Costco with his Mummy, Daddy and Ben. Daddy decided that the Costco canteen wasn’t where he wanted to spend a saturday lunch and took us all to Frankie and Benny’s. I held a bottle of milk to the hot air vent on the ten minute drive and as soon as we sat down I had the bottle ready for Ciaran.
We had a lovely meal (high points cost for me but worth every point) and Ben discovered he loves Scampi (especially off his father’s plate) and that chocolate brownies and icecream is now his (and his father’s) favourite dessert. We dragged our gluttonous toddler out of the XScape centre and headed back home.
We got home around 3 but neither boy wanted to nap so we visited their Ninny and Baz (my parent’s) and stayed for a tea (for Ben) of fish fingers and chips. Back home. Ciaran settled well and went to sleep, Ben was still a little tearful at having to leave the trick or treat sweeties downstairs but eventually drifted to sleep.
Today was another manic day. Ciaran napped in the morning while I shopped at Tesco’s for a big dinner. After a quick lunch (beans and eggs and toast for hubby, weightwatchers meal for me, bagel for Ben) hubby went to the airport to pick up a friend who was visiting. I was torn between the kitchen where a pot roast and breaded mushrooms needed to be prepared and a very grumpy Ciaran who wanted to sit with me in the lounge to watch his brother.
Daddy and Johnny came home to a lovely welcome, Ben said “Hello Johnny” as they walked through the door and kindly offered his precious gingerbread biscuits around. Once the dinner time had been agreed and the beef was in the oven I sat Ciaran down in his highchair and he chomped and sucked happily on a banana before giving Ben his fair share (the vast majority) and then worked his way through half a petit filous (again his loving Brother finished off the left overs). As it was just gone three I decided to combine his afternoon nap and bottle.
He fell asleep after just half the bottle and I went downstairs to wash bottles etc… We got Ciaran up at half four and ate a lovely dinner (beef wrapped in parma ham cooked with porcini mushrooms, shallots and butter beans, breaded garlic mushrooms and jacket potato for the three men) and pudding (bread and butter pud made with malt loaf topped with frozen fruit). It was suddenly 6, time for Ciaran’s bed and nearly time for Johnny’s train. We then had a complete melt down.
Ben was over tired (no nap again) and hates goodbyes so he kept tearfully Johnny to stay with him and had a full scale toddler temper tantrum at the door as hubby drove off leaving me to put the baby calmly to bed whilst his brother screamed like a banshee. Unsuprisingly Ciaran didn’t settle well.
Any way after a hard go for hubby and I its now 8 and both boys have finally gone quiet. I can see where we went wrong.
1. After a stimulating day with lots of excitement children need time to wind down with a nice bath. Skipping Ciaran’s bath was a BAD idea.
2. We know Ben hates people leaving, scheduling for guests to leave close to bedtime is a BAD idea.
Trouble is as parents we sometimes need to see real people and it does come at a price when you have young children. We have a busy few weeks ahead with visiting in-laws, birthdays etc… If we can organise ourselves a little better maybe next time we’ll space things out better and remember to give the kids a chance to wind down before they go to bed. Or, more likely, we’ll forget again and have exactly the same problem again.
For now this exhausted and drained mother is cooked out, peopled out and bedtimed out and is going to have a difficult choice to make – tea or beer?