Creating a Routine

7:00:00 AM

I wanted to introduce a new "design" section to my blog. I'm no parenting expert, but I wanted to share some things that have helped us, especially now that we are parents of multiples--every little thing helps!

Routines can be boring. As adults we look for a break in the routine. That’s why we look forward to vacation, regardless of whether or not we enjoy our day-to-day lives. Children enjoy a break from the routine, too—a trip to Grandma’s house, unexpected time with Mom, or a special treat are all welcome changes of pace.

However, in order to have a break from a routine, one must first have a routine. And I have found that children thrive on routine. They find security in knowing what is going to happen next. And if there is going to be a change in the routine, then it helps that they know that it is coming. Routines don’t exist in a vacuum so they are always evolving, but they allow a child to have some sort of feeling of control over their little lives.
One routine that is constantly evolving is the bedtime routine. When our eldest daughter was still in a crib, we would give her a kiss and a hug and wish her goodnight, and walk out. We had a rule—if she cried, wanting us to come back, we let her cry for 15 minutes. We knew she was fine. If she was still crying after 15 minutes, we went back into the room to check on her, give her another kiss goodnight, and walk back out. We rarely had to go back into the room though.

As she got older, we needed a little more structure. She was in a big girl bed and she was developing fears. If you’re familiar with the children’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, well, that has to be my least favorite children’s book. This book gave my little one an irrational fear of bears. Therefore, our nightly routine consisted of prayer—we prayed for our family—immediate family, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles by name, and then we checked both of her bedroom windows to make sure there weren’t any bears lurking outside in suburbia. This kept her from calling for us 15 minutes after bedtime saying that she was scared of bears—she knew that there weren’t any outside.

After a while, we dropped checking the windows. The need passed. So we were just praying with her, then hugs and kisses. Until…when I was pregnant with the twins, I wanted my eldest to relate to the babies when they came. So one evening, I introduced something new: a lullaby. Those of you who have heard me sing (or what I call singing), probably just cringed. I am not very musically inclined. If you have been refraining from singing lullabies to your children, though, don’t…because your child love you, loves your singing voice, loves the attention. Trust me. Just try it. I wanted to share a lullaby with my eldest that I sang to her when she was tiny, so that she would have a connection with her little baby sisters when they came. The song I sang to her was Dites-Moi from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical, South Pacific. I have loved that song since I heard it in high school, and since I took French back then, the lyrics mean something to me—it’s telling my little “mademoiselles” that my life is beautiful is because they love me. Anyway, by the time the twins were born, my big girl could sing a version of it back to me every night. This little song was wonderful when I was in the hospital, and her little world was turned upside down. I would talk to her on the phone, and she was upset that mommy wasn’t with her. But I could sing that song to her, and have her sing back to me, and the whole world got a little better for both of us. We read a Bible story, pray and then sing our song every day, regardless where we are at.

Now, when her little sisters need some extra love at bedtime, she shares that little song with them. I love how she wants to share that routine with her 11 month old sisters!

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