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Routine vs relaxed style


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#1 EBmel

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:33 PM

Posted on Amity's behalf:

QUOTE
A friend and I were having a play-date the other day, and when her almost one-year-old grew restless she started packing up to leave. I was disappointed she had to go – our bigger kids were playing so nicely and we were having a great catch up, but she was adamant.

“If he doesn’t sleep now I’ll pay for it later, and him sleeping is the key to my sanity,” she joked. Well, kind of joked. Because for my friend, like so many mums, routine is everything. Her play-dates and catch-ups revolve around her baby’s sleep times, and they’ll always be home in time for him to sleep in his own bed. As a result he’s a great sleeper and she gets lots of work done in the hours he naps, a feat she rightly cherishes (and I am very jealous of!).

I, on the other hand, am pretty go with the flow. Our baby years were spent on outings and coffee dates, where I would hope my babies slept in their prams or in my arms. If I was having fun I’d drag my time out as much as possible, hoping they’d sleep in the car on the way home and we all wouldn’t lose the plot too much.

They’ve come with us to restaurants and concerts, rehearsals and meetings. Consequently they are very social kids who are great at being out and interacting with adults. But neither has ever been a great sleeper, a coincidence that is not lost on me.

We all have our own parenting styles, relaxed or routine, busy or calm, and all have pros and cons.

When my first child was a preschooler we filled our days with activities. Kindergym and playgroup, baby sport and play-dates, it was rare we had more than a day at home in a week. Looking back now we probably did too much, but at the time I embraced the excitement of my new baby and all the fun things we could do together.

In a typical second child scenario, my daughter and I have done a lot less of the structured activities. Life is busy enough these days and I cherish my days at home more than anything. As a result, she’s much better at entertaining herself than her brother ever was, but I sometimes get the guilts that I’ve yet to enrol her in baby ballet!

But they both still mostly fit around our schedule, rather than the other way round. Dinners are decided at the last minute, activities are spontaneous, and the summer holidays have meant late nights while we’ve all enjoyed BBQs, beach outings and sleepovers at grandparents’ homes.

Both kids will sleep in after a late night and this works for us as a family, but the downside has meant that over the holidays any routine they had is so far out the window I fear I’ll never retrieve it. Late nights are fun when Mummy is on board, but when I’m tired or have to work and they’re both still refusing to sleep at 10pm they’re patience-testing.

So is that a sign that routine is king and my relaxed style has too many drawbacks? I would agree that, as a rule, kids thrive on routine. Particularly during school terms and toddler years, structure is really important. But I also think the needs of the parents should count for something, and you have to do what works for you.

If staying at home all day makes you feel depressed and lonely, then activities and baby sleeps in the pram will make you a happier parent. If structure and home time while your child sleeps in their bed is more your thing, you’ll both prefer a routine. As long as your child is getting enough sleep in a 24-hour period they’ll be okay either way.

I’ve loved the summer holidays but am looking forward to school going back, and our semblance of routine starting up again. Although, sadly, with the next few months I’m going to have, I don’t see too many home days on the horizon anytime soon. And I fear I’ll have a battle on my hands when Miss 2 realises the party’s over and 7pm bedtime returns, so stay tuned for a toddler tantrum post coming soon!


I'd love to hear what works best for other families. Are you a routine-based person, or is a flexible approach better for you and your kids?

#2 IsolaBella

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:41 PM

I was lucky. I had kids who slept 8-10pm at night until 8am in the morning from 7-12wks of age) overnight waking after that was illness or teething.

Day sleeps non existent. Cat nappers all three. But they would sleep anywhere 5.5mo DS1 fell asleep with cannon fire in the middle of Pirates ride at Disney.

My 2nd and 3rd child did a 1-2hr nap for 6-9m between 1-2yrs of age. After that if they fell asleep during the daytime it was a recipe for a child awake at 10-12midnight.

We are a pack up and go with the flow family. No routines. Still works for us at 3,5,7yrs of age.

Era: since 2yrs of age though the boys have been 5-6am walkers grrr.  Relaxed works for us as DH could be home for dinner at 6.30pm or 8pm. So dinner time is a variable thing, as is bedtime.

So the kids have worked around us.

Edited by lsolaBella, 18 January 2013 - 01:49 PM.


#3 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:47 PM

Routine all the way here....am currently sitting in a holiday rental over looking a lovely river with people swimming in it, it's 39 degrees here but I'm not going anywhere because its DS's nap time. It's just not worth it to get him out of his routine....

Edited by Lucretia Borgia, 18 January 2013 - 01:50 PM.


#4 busymumof1&1/2

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:48 PM

I work fulltime and do all of the drop offs and pick ups, so my work day is routine based, to save my sanity. My DD1 has always been an early to bed, early to rise from very early on. 6 to 6. DD2 is still awake at 10pm at night, and is happy to nap on the way to daycare, at daycare, and on the way home from daycare. I wish she would be a better sleeper. On the weekends though we have a more relaxed style. They work around us, as much as possible, and we work around them too.

#5 SaintJoe

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:51 PM

I am exactly like your friend.  Starting to ease up now ds is 2.

He is a fantastic sleeper 7pm-8am and sleeps 2 hrs during the day. I will admit however if we do fall out of routine he loses the plot.

At the end of the day I think it comes down to your own character. I am a self confessed control freak and would find it hard to just go with the flow. I understand how others would feel the same about my lifestyle.

#6 tres-chic

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:52 PM

It doesn't have to be one or the other.

We stick to a routine where possible, but if it slips in the holidays it doesn't matter.

I'd never be a slave to routine but it works well for school-night discipline, for example.

#7 WithSprinkles

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:55 PM

Routine here too. I was hoping to be a "go with the flow" type parent but DD had other ideas, she thrives on routine. She becomes incredibly cranky if she doesn't nap within a certain timeframe.

#8 Guest_divineM_*

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:56 PM

Routine is king for me! I like it for myself and i like it for DD (22 months). She needs her sleep and I need a break during the day. She's also not good at making up for missed naps or late bedtimes so i pay for it later. It may also be a by product of the fact that due to DD's poor sleeping abilities I have had a lot of sleep school/sleep nanny help and they drum it into your head how important sleep (and quality sleep, not bits of sleep snatched in the car) is. I really only make exceptions for important occasions eg we have a family christening this weekend. But DD will still be taken away from the party at nap time (in the car or pram), I couldn't just miss her nap!

#9 IsolaBella

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:57 PM

You see I am a control freak (don't try and do my dishes or pack dishwasher to help out) but kids and babies I was wing it type.



#10 Feral_Pooks

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:58 PM

Routine vs. relaxed is a false dichotomy.

I have a 11 MONTH old son who will go all day with no sleep if I don't ensure all of his, very specific, routine and sleep needs are met. No sleep results in an incredibly unhappy baby, and an incredibly unhappy mum. Sometimes this is unavoidable and I have to cop the consequences, but if it's a just a case of ending a visit a little early, my goodness I will do it.

I'm not talking about "consequence" being a cranky baby, I'm meaning screaming until hoarse and vomiting, refusing to sleep or sleeping only in 10 minute bursts, head banging, throwing himself around, and recently, hitting and clawing me. I'm talking about one or two days needed to recover. Sigh.

He has only recently started sleeping maybe 15-20minutes in the car on longer trips, and will simply not sleep anywhere else other than his cot.

It's nice that many babies will roll with the "relaxed" style. I am not a person who ever imagined being routine led, in fact, my life has always been very flowy. But my son thrives on routine and so I provide it for him. It makes life more pleasant for all of us.

So in fact, "routine" means "relaxed" for my family.

I have gotten a lot of judging from others for my "spoiling" DS and being "inflexible" but I challenge anyone to deal with him after a "relaxed" day and see how "relaxed" they are.

Basically, different babies, different mummies, different strategies needed.

Edited to change year to month! Lol

Edited by Pooks_, 19 January 2013 - 12:02 PM.


#11 Jax12

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

Mixture of both here - have always had a regular bedtime routine but as DS has gotten older we've become much more flexible with the timing.  We were also really lucky that DS went with the flow and was an easy baby to settle, but he still is better off with a day sleep otherwise he can be frazzled and overtired at bedtime.  

I don't think a mother taking her not-quite-1 year old home because they've grown restless is terribly rigid huh.gif If my gf was over and her youngest was starting to get ratty I would understand that he/she was tired and needed a sleep, and if they weren't the kind to nod off in a pram anywhere that would mean cutting the visit short.  I'd prefer a lovely shorter visit than one that deteriorates into crying, whingeing and yelling because of an overtired toddler!

#12 her mum

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

This whole routine business that people do makes me think I must have been blessed with the best sleeping child ever.

DD, now 2, has slept through the night from 6 weeks - initially 10-7, but eventually, and still now 7-7. But I've never been worried about a bed time, if we're home at 7, great, if not then she just stays up til 8, 9, 10, very ocasionally later, and she is happy and fine.

She would have 3 hour naps in the pram when tiny and even now sometimes her only nap for the day is a couple hours grabbed in spurts of being in the car on a particularly busy day. If we're home, then she'll sleep up to 3 hours in her own bed with no worries too.

I can't imagine anything more tedious than having to end a playdate early, not being able to attend an event or needing to schedule times for things just because we have to be home at a specific time for a nap.

Luckily my daughter agrees with me!

#13 Maple Leaf

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:01 PM

I wanted to be a relaxed go with the flow mother, but both of my girls were (and are) very routine oriented.
So I did what made them happy even though my ideal parenting style was a bit less rigid.

I think it really depends on the child's personality.


#14 ubermum

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:06 PM

My first child was pretty much in a routine. There was room for flexibility, but for the most part, every day was much the same.

My sister is extreme. I call her "The Sergeant Major". Her routine is timed down to the minute. I once asked her when staying there if I should get all the kids in the bath. She said no, it wasn't bath time yet. I said "but isn't bath time 6pm? "Yes" she replied "and it's only 5.52" wacko.gif

My third and final child isn't in a routine at all. My older two will both be in school this year and they have various after school activities. I will be working full time and dh will also, but 5 mins away in his own business. We plan to work around the kids and my schedule. Our baby just fits in. She gets a boob when she squawks, she gets three meals a day around the time everyone else eats, she gets a bath or shower when someone else is having one, and she gets put to bed when she gets cranky. Her first 6 months she spent a lot of time in the capsule doing school and kinder runs. If we are out, I put her down in the pram, cover it and walk around in circles until she drops off. On one night of the week, the kids and dh have sports training and we all don't get home until 8.45pm, well after bedtime. All the kids get their pj's on just after sport and fall asleep on the way home. We all just go with the flow. It's hectic, but we are all much happier people with a busy schedule. An inflexible routine around my baby would send me loopy. For the most part, I think kids take their cues from their parents. If you are relaxed and cruisy, they mostly are. Sure, you get some with reflux or something that changes that, but mostly, if you are easy going, so are your kids.

#15 JoMarch

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:18 PM

My DS is only (almost) 6 months, but so far I'm finding that (flexible) routine is going to be the way to go for us.  Since introducing a bedtime routine from an early age he has shown that he thrives on such routine, so I'm trying to follow a (loose) routine throughout the day as well, and this seems to work reallly well for him.  

I really hope we continue to be able to get out & about with our routine, so far he doesn't mind sleeping in the pram (not as well as in his cot though).  But i'd never be a strict, down to every minute, kind of mum.  There has to be some flexibility for me.  My sister is pretty stict with her routine and it effects the times of day that she will go on outings, and I'd like to avoid this if possible, however I do understand that it's what works best for her kids.  Each to their own.

#16 MintyBiscuit

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

We have a routine with DS that is open to flexibility. He dropped to one sleep around 9/10 months, but fortunately sleeps for 1-1.5 hours, so most days I'm not willing to risk him not having that sleep by being out and about at nap time. I am lucky though that he generally has that nap late morning then gets up for lunch, so it's pretty easy to fit things in around nap time.

Evening routine is pretty static, although we have had a few late nights. I think we were so scarred from his horrific sleep when he was younger that we're loathe to change things that are working well. At it's worst I was getting no more than 2 hours sleep at a time, so if the trade off for a baby who sleeps from 7pm - 6pm is not getting out much I'm happy to do it at the moment.

I think as DS gets older and we're able to explain the idea of an extra nap so he can go out at night, we'll do more stuff at night. But we haven't missed out on much by having a relatively rigid night routine.

Edited by HollyOllyOxenfree, 18 January 2013 - 02:20 PM.


#17 Walkers

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:23 PM

We have always been REALLY relaxed. Due to our fabulous laid-backness & awesome, relaxed attitude I always thought that was the reason our kids were so wonderfully easy going. That was until I had my 8th child - huge wake up call & all smugness removed  biggrin.gif .  Yes we finally got one of 'those' sleepers, not just a bad sleeper but a total energy sapping, nightmare day & night catnapper. Relax and my son do not go together, so it has been routine all the way. We did nothing different with this last one, it was all the kid.  I think the child's personality and how high maintenance they are has a lot to do with whether relaxed or routine works better.

#18 axiomae

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:29 PM

I've always been a very spontaneous, unstructured person and before DD arrived, I envisioned my life with her as a series of adventures - to have coffee, see a movie, drive to the coast for a swim, with her sleeping in the pram or in the car as necessary. Well, wasn't I in for a rude shock!

DD does not sleep in the pram. She does not sleep in the car. She will snatch 10 minutes here and there if I'm wearing her and walking. She becomes hyperactive and does not wind down until I put her in her cot, where she will promptly fall asleep! If I'm not home for her sleep times, she does not sleep, and becomes an overtired screaming mess!

So, I'm a routine mum, because DD thrives on it. My need for fun social outings fit around her sleep, because it's my responsibility to make sure she is well rested and thriving. At least that's how I see it. She won't be little forever!

#19 SaintJoe

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:42 PM


QUOTE (FoxyRetro*Gal @ 18/01/2013, 03:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We have always been REALLY relaxed. Due to our fabulous laid-backness & awesome, relaxed attitude I always thought that was the reason our kids were so wonderfully easy going. That was until I had my 8th child - huge wake up call & all smugness removed  biggrin.gif .  Yes we finally got one of 'those' sleepers, not just a bad sleeper but a total energy sapping, nightmare day & night catnapper. Relax and my son do not go together, so it has been routine all the way. We did nothing different with this last one, it was all the kid.  I think the child's personality and how high maintenance they are has a lot to do with whether relaxed or routine works better.


A great case study right here!  I always assumed ds was so structured as we made him that way. It may possibly just be who he is.

#20 WinterIsComing

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:51 PM

No, no rigid routine for me and I don't get it AT ALL.

Being at home with my son for more than a year, I found myself in an unusual situation where I had the luxury of time - time to go for walks, coffees; shop and meet friends, all when other people were at work.

I wasn't going to waste it on being a prisoner of rigid nap times!

I find that the absolute majority of mothers living in my area, where there are so many natural attractions and places to go outside, do not follow rigid routines. Every single baby in our mother's group will sleep wherever - car, pram, etc. DS learnt to nap in different situations from birth. It came very handy during our recent OS trip, where we visited many destinations - he would nap in our arms on public transport, in his Maclaren, on the hotel bed, plane, everywhere.

In 90% of cases, we followed his lead - when he showed tired signs, or when we knew he had been awake long enough, we put him down for a nap, at home or outside. We rarely let him go tired.



#21 WinterIsComing

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:51 PM

No, no rigid routine for me and I don't get it AT ALL.

Being at home with my son for more than a year, I found myself in an unusual situation where I had the luxury of time - time to go for walks, coffees; shop and meet friends, all when other people were at work.

I wasn't going to waste it on being a prisoner of rigid nap times!

I find that the absolute majority of mothers living in my area, where there are so many natural attractions and places to go outside, do not follow rigid routines. Every single baby in our mother's group will sleep wherever - car, pram, etc. DS learnt to nap in different situations from birth. It came very handy during our recent OS trip, where we visited many destinations - he would nap in our arms on public transport, in his Maclaren, on the hotel bed, plane, everywhere.

In 90% of cases, we followed his lead - when he showed tired signs, or when we knew he had been awake long enough, we put him down for a nap, at home or outside. We rarely let him go tired.



#22 winkywonkeydonkey

Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:18 PM

I like to be relaxed and dont care for routines really until recently , my 2 year old daughter wakes all night if she doesnt nap so i am now strict in making sure she naps every day at a certain time. Im looking forward to her dropping her nap though so we can go out whenever without worrying about being up all night with her.

Every child is different. You may find your first is the kind that will sleep anywhere and everything is  lovely but your second is completly the opposite. What worked for my ds ( napping out and about in the pram etc) never has worked for my daughter.

Edited by winkywonkeydonkey, 18 January 2013 - 03:25 PM.


#23 misty123

Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:48 PM

I'm routine ALL the way.  It works best for us.  I love our routines.

My DS was a horrible sleeper for the first 12 months, and I learnt through trial and error and endless sleepless nights that routine was the only thing that seemed to work for him and to get him to sleep well.  He likes to know what is coming up and what to expect next.  Now that he's 22 months he is completely different sleeper and I consider him a pretty good one at that who has 1 day nap at the same time each day for about 2-3 hours, and a regular bed time and sleeps for 12 hours solid at night.  It is bliss compared to those first 12 months I tell you!  He's a happier baby with routines to follow, and I am a happier, less tired and more energetic mum because of them.  

We work our social life around him (unless it's something super important), and that suits us just fine.  We may miss out on doing "fun" things now and then if we have to leave early or miss out all together, but we figure fun things aren't that fun when you have a cranky toddler to deal.  For us, routine is worth it.

#24 zingy

Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:48 PM

I have an 11 year old and 4 year old boy/girl twins.

Any ideas of routine went out the window with the twins as they both had different sleep clocks etc. I had no choice but to go with whatever was happening at the time.

I am now a laid back relaxed Mum and I go with the flow. Sometimes I pay for it but most of the time it's fine.

One friend of mine is very bothered that I don't insist that my children go to bed at an exact time with an exact routine but I just can't be that person.



#25 liveworkplay

Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:13 PM

QUOTE
I think the child's personality and how high maintenance they are has a lot to do with whether relaxed or routine works better.


x1000!!!

I was pretty relaxed although with DD1 I made sure we were at home for at least one day sleep. Also she had to be home at nighttime bedtime. We tried (boy how we tried) but it was a nightmare for everyone concerned (and those not concerned often wore a bit of the brunt as well laughing2.gif)  if she wasn't. DD2 was different and I had no qualms about staying out late, she would just drop off to sleep (on one infamous occasion sleeping in the corner of our new house whilst the removalists moved in the entire household worth of furniture around her!) DD3 was a bit of a mixed bad so I just went with it.

I think you need to do what your child responds to, however, this does not mean, as some people do, watching the second hand on the clock before starting/finishing something. That is not routine, that is total control freak.




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