Same old, same old
August 7, 2017
Before we had bambinos we were in the camp of playing it fast a loose when it came to the big ‘R’ word…routine. We’d seen friends and family take different approaches, and come to a conclusion that the kid would just fit around us / get herself into her own kind of routine. Ha, boy were we in for a shock!
Our first little girl, Polly, was wired to the moon from the moment she waved goodbye to the comfort of the womb. Largely down to two main reasons….she was hungry all the time (terrible feeder) and I was shocking at reading her tired signs so was permanently over-tired. I’d read up loads on pregnancy, a bit about birth but very little about how to actual look after the off spring. I’m the eldest of four girls and have been surrounded by littles for years through friends and family so I think both Graham and I both thought we’d walk it when we actually became parents. The first few weeks…oh who am I kidding, MONTHS, were an absolute blur of breastfeeding (not in the slightest bit ‘natural’ as the label says), nappy changes and generally wanting to show off this small human we’d created, all on a few hours sleep. Cue late night amazon orders of any book with ‘sleep solution’ or ‘calm baby’ in the title. Through the tears (mine), tantrums (hers) and the odd late night car trips to get her to sleep (his) we came to the conclusion we needed to give a routine a go. My Aunt had been a dedicated Gina Ford disciple and although I knew all the bad press, I figured I’d give it a go. It took two false starts at attempting it but I eventually got there and although it was still about six or seven months before she slept through (and even then not consistently) what I did get was a much more content and calm kiddo from four months.
This time around, Lilly has been so much calmer from the get go. We’re fitting the stereotype of being much more relaxed second time around so I’m sure that goes some way to helping, and I’ve got her into a routine much younger than I did with Polly – I think it’s been a confidence thing and the vain hope that I’ll get her sleeping a bit younger. No sign yet, but I’ll keep powering through!!
For those that aren’t familiar with Ms Ford and the like, the bad press is generated out of the military precision drills that she applies to her routine. If you were to follow it to the letter you’d never go out anywhere, probably lose friends and alienate your family. I didn’t read it like that, and I actually read the Q&A part of the book where her answers are much softer – things like naps don’t always have to be in a cot, feeds don’t have to last the timetabled 15 minutes and you can do it while breastfeeding.
So what am I getting at here – it’s not about the pros and cons of Gina’s approach, but instead something a bit broader. Routine in general, no matter what your age – when does something that is meant to be helpful and settling become limiting and frustrating?
At the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen the impact of routine on some of my Grandparents (I’ve got a lot of them, child of divorce 😉). One particular set have had the same approach to everything they’ve done for the last 40 odd years. The way they’ve banked, insured themselves and their worldly goods, shopped, holidayed…EVERYTHING. They even continued to operate in pretty much the same way when my Grandmother had a stroke seven years ago despite the fact she lost the use of her left hand side but was the main driver and all round boss (we had to hide the car keys for a while).
I have a plethora of stories I could go on about but the point I’m trying to make is this – there are lots of brilliant things routine brings us – a feeling of stability, reducing the risk of nasty surprises, a calmness and familiarity that really makes you think ‘I’ve got my stuff together and I can take on the world,’ but what if you don’t let the world in? What if there’s no room for anything else because your routine is so tightly wound there’s just no flexing?
I really do think those of us that are lovers of routine do well to throw ourselves a challenge every now and again to break away from our norm. I got into the routine / habit of doing the big shop on the same day and pretty much same time every week. If I had to deviate the cold sweats would start – seriously, it was time to get a grip. Why was I being so hard on myself?! It’s going to a flipping supermarket!! I can happily go any day at pretty much any time now (child mood dependent) but you’ll never catch me without my list written in the order I go around the shop in…I’m light years away from being able to drop that particular routine!
I’m off to have a look at what else I’ve fallen into the habit of doing in the same routine for a while and give it a shake up….change is as good as a rest as they say and due to the level of broken sleep I’m getting right now and for the foreseeable, a change (rest) is welcome!!