If you’re going to become a parent, routine is inevitable and can be quite important for the child and yourself. It means you stay on track and have something to work towards each hour, day, week...
Before kids i certainly liked routine, i think i am just that kind of guy. But i wasn't bound to any extreme routine. I loved to up and get away on a random city break for a long weekend and welcomed after work drinks that were decided upon at quarter to five on a Tuesday with the team.
But since becoming a dad i feel like my life has become one massive routine. I don't dislike it, as i am definitely a creature of habit. But it is also very repetitive at times. Two years into parenting i feel every area of my life is now mapped out from the alarm going off each morning to getting into bed at night. If you break away from this well oiled machine it'll all fall apart! I work Monday to Friday and that plays a huge part in the routine. Being behind a desk all day for hours on end... not exactly living the dream is it?
What can we do to break the routine?
Do you remember the days of a random Thursday evening when you couldn't be assed to cook so you would just head into town, get some food and then maybe catch a movie, knowing the weekend was so nearly in sight? Swap the cinema popcorn for shop bought (it’s so much cheaper) and get in front of the tele instead... that's life with a child.
There’s no controlling when a toddler is going to wake up (unless you have a gro-clock apparently). They are always going to need their breakfast, their lunch and their dinner. And maybe have a nap too. To mix it up we like to eat out, get fresh air as often as we can and have days out. This way, daddy usually gets a coffee, cake and some brunch while the little one gets his brunch (and probably his own cake after a strop!). Routine is really key for them, especially adopted children. To feel safe, secure and to know what's coming next and that they are able to expect the events of their day.
As a couple we are pretty bad at taking time for ourselves too and leaving the routine behind for a day/evening. I recently had 'dad guilt' about attending an event in London on a Tuesday night. But why? It’s so important to have this time out. To have that time away from the norm. Self care. I had a great time at the event and it broke that weekly routine for me. But date nights... now that’s where we are failing. And they are a MUST!
We aren't short of babysitters, yet we don‘t go out half as much as we should. I think our last proper night out was in December last year. And that wasn't really a date, we spent the time finishing the Christmas shopping and ended the evening doing the Christmas food shop in Sainsbury's. So romantic. We, as a couple, are very chilled though. Maybe because we're two guys? I'm not sure. We’re best friends as well as being husbands to one another and fathers to our son and every evening we’re together. We cook, we eat, catch up and watch a box set episode or five. I love that downtime we have together where we can catch up on our day. But it is equally as important to get out. We must make a pact to take that time for each other outside of our home at least once a month.
How you hang out (and how often) with your friends changes too. Our friends are awesome at visiting us probably more than we get to their houses these days. Chilling out with friends who now have kids is more of a play-date meet up instead of cocktails in town. But seeing your friends (for cocktails or soft play, both can be quite fun) is so important. You can share your stories. Get advice. Laugh!
With a child of any age there are constant changes, so the routine will no doubt switch up again for us soon. Initially our son was napping for an hour in the morning at about 9am and then another hour at about 2pm. That quickly changed to the famously wonderful two hour lunchtime nap so the routine had a change then. And in no time i am sure the naps will be long gone... i can feel it coming. God help us.
I think a holiday is a good way to mix things up too, and everyone loves a trip away right? A few days down by the coast and staying somewhere different can work wonders. Ibiza last year was amazing and left us all refreshed and more confident in changing the routine up as he did so well. He coped absolutely fine with the plane, the hotel, the change in every part of his routine. I think it's often us as parents that are more worried about breaking the routine. Some nights he was even going to bed at 9pm!! We've recently just got back from a trip to Portugal which seems to have caused a shake in our solid routine though... Bedtime. He has ALWAYS been a dream sleeper. Bath, story, bottle, bed. We've had PARTIES downstairs before now that he has slept through. But since this trip, something has changed and now we can't leave him to fall asleep. One of us has to lay with him. If we don't then the screams and crying are uncontrollable. It's a concern but for now we are rolling with it... and hoping it's a classic phase. (More on that in another post coming soon on 'Changes'). But once again, the routine could well be changing.
What do you do to mix up the routine? Do you have set bed times or do you go with the flow? Do you have a set day or two a week where anything goes? Let me know below!