You might remember I wrote a few months ago about not following a routine. At this point in our lives, we had tried and failed to implement a routine for Alfie, but he just wasn’t playing ball. As someone who normally loves a bit of planning and structure, I thought I would be very strict from the beginning in implementing a routine and making sure everyone stuck to it. However, after realising that babies routines and patterns change ALL. THE. TIME. it just didn’t work for us. We struggled more and found it more frustrating when Alfie didn’t follow this routine we tried to implement. So we got rid of it. And we were all happier for it!
Then I went back to work and Alfie started nursery and we naturally fell into a routine of sorts. Most nights, Craig would pick Alfie up from nursery about 5pm, have a little play when they got in, then bath him, give him a cup of milk and put him to bed at 6ish. He was usually asleep by 6.30pm when I got home from work. This worked for a few months, I think because Alfie was so tired from running round all day at nursery.
Then Christmas happened, and we got out of a routine. I was lucky to be off work for almost 2 weeks, so our days were all messed up. Apart from sticking to a bit of a routine around meal times, everything ran later – we got up later, had breakfast later, Alfie napped later, and we went to bed later. So going back to nursery was a nightmare, and we were back to having no evening because Alfie wasn’t going to bed until 10pm. But, although we had got used to his routine before, we quickly accepted that changes had happened, so we would just try to get him back into his former routine. Everything went well until it came to getting him to sleep. He showed all the correct signs of sleepiness, but put him to bed and he went CRAZY!! Getting out of bed, crying, and just generally causing havoc. It was stressful, especially on the days Craig went to the gym as I’d come home from work and have to deal with a stroppy teenager, usually when I was tired and hungry and just wanted to sit down with a nice meal in front of my tv programmes, or when I wanted to get on the laptop and write a blog. It’s not really a coincidence that my blog was neglected for the first few weeks/months of 2017.
Then we encountered another problem – hunger. Alfie seemed to be coming home from nursery so hungry. He has always had dinner at nursery, and sometimes he would have a snack when he got home, but usually it wasn’t needed. Then all of a sudden he was coming home so hungry, at one point he ate half of my dinner, 3 snack bars, a packet of Organix crisps and a slice of toast – as well as his usual 2 cups of milk. It was ridiculous and I was getting worried that my son had some kind of eating disorder where he was just never full up. I know that nursery feed him enough because we’ve spoken about it in the past, and he has double portions most of the time, and they always offer him seconds. So they were feeding him enough, but he just wasn’t full up.
So I turned to my trusty baby group on Facebook to ask for advice. I am so paranoid about overfeeding Alfie, as he is already very heavy for his age, and at his last weigh in was off the chart in his red book – at 18 months he was 15kg. He’s not fat though – just solid and heavy. But I still worry that we feed him too much. But after speaking to the lovely ladies on my baby group, it seemed Alfie was probably going through a growth spurt. They also made me realise that we should probably start giving him dinner when we eat now, as he was getting older and bigger and natural that means he was hungrier.
This made me realise that maybe we just need a change in routine – you know, that routine that I am so against. It made me realise that we do have a routine, and actually it suits Alfie pretty well. Or at least it did. So now we just have to try and change that routine. Generally Craig picks him up at 5/5.30 and then they will have a play until I get home from work at 6.30pm. Craig will have cooked dinner, so Alfie now eats with us as well. We don’t give him a “full” meal – i.e not as big a portion as we would normally, but bigger than a snack (probably similar size to what a regular toddler would have for dinner!!). Then I give him a bath while Craig tidies up from dinner, then I get him dressed for bed and he has a cup of milk whilst sitting in his rocking chair. I will admit that he usually falls asleep in front of the tv, but we have the lights turned off and the tv on low as he seems to like a bit of background noise to fall asleep to. We do read him a story but this doesn’t make him sleepy!
This change of routine has really worked for us. Ok, so he still wakes up in the night sometimes and comes in our bed, but he now consistently goes to bed at around 7.30/8pm. We can cope with a bit of bed-sharing for now as long as we get some of our evenings back. We are hoping we can crack the night wakings some time in the future, however, we are due to move soon, so I don’t see the point in trying anything else new for now, as it is likely to all change then anyway! They have definitely gotten less frequent, and currently he’s in his bed more than ours now.
So the conclusion of this post – don’t get too hung up on a routine, and realise that children’s patterns change all the time and sometimes, as a wise Sheryl Crow once sang, a change will do you good. I think we’re quite lucky as I’ve never been strict on routine, but even more now I’ve realised that you need to be pretty adaptable and sometimes just go with the flow.
As we are due to move soon, I expect it will out be out of sync again in a few months, but for now I am enjoying having my evening back!