What I Learned About the Importance of Routines for Young Kids

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The Importance of Routines for Young Kids

So I wanted to write a small piece on my experience this week with the importance of routines for young kids, my girls in particular. I honestly have always kind of prided myself on not being stuck in a rigid routine with LJ & T. I have always known there are huge benefits but we have always done what we wanted when we wanted to.

girls painting craftbox delawareI Had Never Been on a Schedule Before Kids

If it was nap time the girls would sleep in their car seats or the stroller. Life didn’t stop because it was time for dinner or lunch or nap. We just made it work. They aren’t the best sleepers but they weren’t the worst either. My work schedule isn’t a normal 9-5 and I made plans to do things when it worked and when I could and wasn’t married to a timeline. I am still glad I did it this way because it worked for us…that is until it didn’t!!

Summer Coming to an End

This past summer just felt out of control. We never got into a summer routine, bedtime was out of control and I felt like the girls were cranky all the time. I couldn’t wait to get back to school and back to some kind of normal schedule. On the other hand, I was so sad that summer was ending and wished we could get a do-over. We just didn’t do most of the things I’d hoped to.

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LJ Back to School Picture

Back to School

LJ had her first week of school, not even a full week. She got out early each day, this week she will start staying for lunch and will be there 9am-1pm, 4 mornings a week. I am amazed at the difference already.

We started a strict bedtime, upstairs by 6, jammies & brush teeth, storytime and all cuddled up together by 6:45. I’d like them to be asleep by 7, or at least me out of the room and them resting. We haven’t been completely successful but it has been close!! It has been a world of difference from the summer fight until 9 or 10 to get them to sleep!!

T also started waking during the night and getting up around 5 or 6 am over the summer despite the late bedtime. We are still working on this but I see it beginning to improve as we enforce better habits!! They are also more tired from the day’s activities and school has been wiping LJ out too!

Behavior Improvements

The behavior with LJ has been a complete change! She is listening better, cleaning up and doing her chores without even being told sometime. She knows she has to do it at school and I’ve told her that she has to do it at home if she wants me to trust that she behaves at school. She loves school and has taken this to a whole other level. Fewer meltdowns, almost no talking back, and an eagerness to help with anything as I give her more big girl responsibilities!

Even T has started taking on more. She will be 2 next month but she puts her shoes away when we get in the front door, helps me empty the dishwasher, knows where all the things she can reach belong and puts them there herself. Both girls put most of their own laundry away and this morning they both dressed themselves together before I had even gotten out of bed!

Embracing New Responsibilities

I love how the more responsibility I give them the more they seem to thrive. LJ gets the bowls, spoons, cereal, and soy milk out. She even pours her own and usually doesn’t spill it. I need to get a small container to put milk in and have it for them ready in the fridge so I don’t have to worry about her spilling a whole carton of milk!

I just cannot believe how different things were just a couple weeks before. I was yelling all the time, I was exhausted from them going to bed so late and in turn me going to bed way too late. The place was a mess. Now I’ve started delegating chores to the girls like taking the recycling out to the bin on our deck and putting their clothes and shoes away. LJ clears their dishes after they eat. These were all things that I tried to get to happen all summer but without the routine, they just didn’t happen.

LJ at the science table at pre k orientationSchool and Keeping Busy with a Schedule

I know school is making a big difference too. I will have to plan ahead for next summer. We had a very planned out summer the year before, just lots of planned activities that kept us busy each day and this year we had a more free play summer. We clearly thrive from keeping busy and will need to have a good mix of the two. Lesson learned, and at their ages, they clearly need a stricter routine.

Just My Thoughts

This was not a planned out post. I don’t have a list of benefits ready to give you but I wanted to share my experience. Like I said, I have always loved not being married to a timeline and wouldn’t have had it any other way! I was the queen of wearing baby around while I continued my life as I had always lived it. Now with an almost 2 & 4.5 year old, it wasn’t working. I wasn’t getting enough me time, we weren’t being productive, and the daily messes weren’t getting taken care of! Plus we were all tired and cranky!

I will update you as things go and see if they continue to improve. Let me know if you have always adhered to a strict schedule with your little ones. Do you see a huge improvement when school starts again? Did you stop doing things whenever you wanted when you had babies? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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