When my first child was an infant, she was not what one would call a “good sleeper.”
My husband and I had to walk her up and down the hallway for hours until she fell asleep. We tried everything we could think of…some of them ill-advised.
In our sleep-deprived state, we got the idea that if we kept her up longer than usual, she would be tired and therefore sleep better. Yeahhhh, that blew up in our faces.
We finally figured out that our little one would get overstimulated really easily, and that in fact, putting her to bed earlier, with more regularity, helped her sleep like a champ. She was simply overtired. Boy, was that discovery life-changing!
From that moment on, I was a Schedule Kind of Mama.
To be honest, I should have been that way from the start. I’m just a better person when I operate on a schedule in all aspects of my life–except vacation. No schedule on vacation!
Once we established a schedule, we protected it fiercely. Sometimes that meant missing out on things, but it was well worth it. If our schedule was thrown off, all of us regretted it. Nap time and bed time became sacred. (I nursed on demand, so we didn’t adhere to a schedule for that—also based on experience.)
Along with keeping a normal routine, we also responded to our kids when they needed us.
If they cried, we comforted them. If they were upset by something we did, we listened to them. We wanted them to know that communication between us was the most important thing and that we would be there for them providing love and security.
As our children grew, we found that breaking the schedule every so often for a special occasion resulted in less chaos than it used to.
Through trial and error, we discovered that after departing from the schedule, the kids were very happy to get back to their normal routine. Gradually, while we still kept to a routine, we relaxed it a bit, due to a discovery.
The more the kids knew the schedule was there to rely on, the more secure they felt. The more secure they felt, the more we could branch out without detrimental effects. In other words, our adherence to a schedule seemed to have made them more adaptable.
Now our kids know that we will do everything we can to provide them with security. Now they know that they can stretch their wings a bit and still have the comfort of routine when they need it.
Through a foundation of consistency (as much as that is possible with kids!), they have become adaptable to new situations relatively easily. By making them feel secure they can respond to changes in their environment with strength and flexibility. We’re doing what we can to raise independent little humans.