As a continuation of my earlier post about teaching the boys to sleep, let’s talk about the daily schedule. And I don’t mean routine, in which things happen in the same order, but schedule, in which things happen in the same order at the same times throughout the day every day. I was extremely resistant to this idea until I had two realizations (and yes, I love numbered lists this week because they help my mommyfried brain remember what I was talking about):
- If I didn’t institute a schedule I might die of sleep deprivation and frustration.
- Closer examination revealed that the boys were already ON a schedule naturally and I had just been ignoring it because I was too exhausted and exasperated to pay attention to the right things.
Enter the schedule, which is based on their natural sleep patterns. The big DUH moment happened when I realized that I had to start working toward bedtime from the moment they woke up in the morning. And I don’t mean praying or counting down for bedtime all day, which we have done a lot in this house, but literally setting the stage for a successful bedtime from first morning light to final snuggle. My revelation: If I want them to go to bed, I have to get them up at a reasonable hour and put them down for naps at reasonable times. Yes, I am that brilliant. (Actually, it’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child that clued me in.)
Here’s the funny thing. If some other mother had been telling me about her frustration and how her days went, the first thing I would have suggested was a predictable daily schedule, at minimum a morning, afternoon, and evening routine to help her stay sane. Of course I’m really good at knowing the answers to other people’s problems (did I mention the part where at 30 I’m still young enough to know everything?), but when it comes to my own I’m clueless.
Once it occurred to me to structure the day around their natural sleep patterns, an amazing thing happened. I started knowing what was coming next, and so did the Miles and Emmett. Within just a day or two, they were getting sleepy at naptimes and eager to pop into the tub at 5 o’clock sharp to begin their bedtime routine. They were waking with a smile instead of screams. And ohmygod they were sleeping through the night, or at least darn close to it.
It’s an ongoing process. I expect that as they grow, hit growth spurts, get teeth, and any number of other wrenches pop up we’ll have to modify the plan or at least deviate into crisis mode temporarily for the short-term issues. But it’s a start.
Feel free to adapt to your heart’s content. Please leave a comment and let me know how it’s working for you, what you’ve done to change it, and how you’ve created your own schedule. Or if a schedule doesn’t work for your family, tell me about your day without one!