Thursday, 29 November 2012

When your child's need for routine is your idea of a nightmare

I struggle with routine.

I loathe catching the same train at the same time every day. I loathe parking in the same spot, or indeed, driving the same route. I never sit in the same seat on a train, at the movies, in the staff cafeteria, in a lecture theatre nor at the dinner table. I don't feel the need to have a 'spot'. I like to see the view from different angles of the room. I have moved offices three times since going back to work in July 2010. True story.

I like change. I crave variety.

Ground hog day is my idea of a nightmare.

I was at a Christmas dinner with the Kindy parents the other night and we got talking about this. The mismatch between my life (that I had four children including twins in a matter of four years) and my natural pattern to have no routine was a source of great amusement. But how did you manage twins without a routine? they asked.

I did have a routine of sorts. A boring three hour cycle of sleep, feed, play. Day in, day out. But I sought opportunities for it to not be the same. They slept in the car, in hammocks, on my lap (anywhere I could get them down). I fed them in the loungeroom, or my bedroom, or in the car or outside or wherever I felt the need to be. And we did something different every day. A different park. A little drive. A visitor. A trip to the shops. Any break in routine I could muster.

Like most children, my children do like routine. They like knowing what is happening next and where they are going to be. But I see little bits of me rubbing off on them. This morning on the way to the dreaded swimming lessons, the Minx said "Can we find a new way to drive there today Mum?". That's my girl.

Do you like to sit in the same seat? Or does the very thought send chills down your spine?


joeh said...

I require a 48 hour notification of any change in my routine.

Sarah said...

I lothe routine, it sucks all the colour out of my life - I need variety to keep me awake.

Fortunately I seem to attract 'things' that mean Im rarely bored.

Within some guidelines my children seemed to manage perfectly well without a routine too.

Erin said...

I was always a gal who loved to 'fly by the seat of my pants'. When I had child number 5 though I knew it was either sink or swim and I had to implement some routine, sometimes I think I must be like someone from AA repeating myself and trying to 'sell' my 'conversion': "I love excel spreadsheets, make lists, they'll save your sanity!"

I am seriously more organised than I was before (easy to go from nothing to something;) Having said that I also crave spontaneity so my parenting and teaching roles seems to be devoted to trying to find a happy medium between the two. still struggling years later

River said...

I like routine, but not rigid, inflexible routine. I like the same things on the same days, but I like knowing that if I have to or want to I can drop the routine and do something or go somewhere completely different.

Sam-O said...

I am the sleep nazi. I do not say that lightly either. I seriously am.

Like you I don't need routine but with my kids being cousins #15 and #17, I knew from bitter experience what lack of routines for kids can produce. Especially sleep/bedtimes chaos. So I made sure my kids know exactly what happens at bedtime and they both do it exactly as I taught them. Lots of sleep here. Easy bedtimes, even my 3yo puts himself to bed these days just gets me to tuck him in and give him a kiss.

Almost everything else is pretty flexible. They seem to be pretty flexible and adaptable. I honestly think the sleep routine is by far the most important. Well rested kids are much easier to cope with, without a doubt!

Claireyhewitt said...

My kids thrive on my lack of routine. They love it and I can think of nothing worse than knowing exactly how every day of your life is expected to run.

THere is some routine of course, they have breakfast, they get dressed, they head off to school or kinder, we have tea and they have stories before bed every night, but the what happens in between those things is a surprise every day.

Naturally Carol said...

It depends whether something routine is thoroughly a date each week at a favourite cafe for coffee...or not. On the other hand we do tend to do a bit of cafe hopping too. Yep I guess I make my own excitement if it gets boring!

Seana Smith said...

Oh I love this, because I have struggled so much with routine as a mother. I crave change, novelty, a wee bit of excitement that alternating this and that can provide. Even 15 years of motherhood hasn't beaten it out of me, tho I did learn early that too much change was a disaster. Two of the kids really love and need routine and I need to respect that whilst gently easing them into greater flexibility. All of them need routine, they do, but two more rigidly. I love the ability to be a bit more chaotic when they are in school, to chop and change and feel a bit free for a few hours.

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