If you're familiar with my life, you know it's never short on "crazy Nissana stories." If I don't have a wild tale to share, then I'm either not living or I've joined a hermit crab under a rock. Just kidding! Or am I?
Currently, I'm navigating the high seas of solo parenting five days a week. This is on top of running my business, clocking in lactation clinical hours, and, oh, just the usual mom duties—cooking, cleaning, shopping, and playing nurse to sick kiddos. Phew! I'm basically a circus act without the tent.
So, what does this have to do with sleep? Buckle up, because I've got some bedtime wisdom to share.
As a sleep consultant, I can't stress enough the importance of routines and consistency. Adults thrive on routine, and so do kids. It's the scaffolding that holds our lives together. Without it, we're just a bunch of Jenga blocks waiting to tumble. We all have routines that are so ingrained, we don't even realize they're there. Brushing our teeth, having coffee, and even our sacred "Thursday Pizza Night" are all part of this. We truly thrive off of the routines in our schedule.
However, life happens, and routines often change. Whether it's accommodating a new spouse, a new baby, or a new Netflix series, we adapt. Our homes are living, breathing entities that also adapt to life's curveballs.
Recently, my husband took a job that turns him into a part-time commuter. This means that his current job will only allow him home on weekends. We've done the long-distance tango before, but this time, it's different. We've got a third kiddo in the mix, and my workload has multiplied like rabbits. And yet, this new chapter has made our routines stronger than ever. My kids have adapted so well, they're practically little minions marching to the beat of the daily drum. They know the morning drill: breakfast, dress, brush teeth, and assist in preparations.
My mornings are a whirlwind of nursing, laundry, and dishwashing, then the 45 minute schlep to everyones respective daycares. I then manage to squeeze in a podcast during my two-bus commute to work. I know it sounds like a lot of early morning effort, but all this prep work frees up my afternoons for quality time with my little munchkins. We have dinner, baths, and then it's off to dreamland. For them at least. There is minimal clean up after dinner, a quick packing of the lunchboxes for tomorrow, and then if time permits, I am able to give myself some well earned Netflix and chill.
Of course, life isn't a fairy tale. There are bedtime battles, midnight wake-ups, and early risers. But the routine keeps us anchored, like a ship in a storm. Especially when the war broke out and some things felt topsy-turvy. I can honestly say that when I follow consistent routines and programming, my house feels clean and under control.
How is it that I am able to run such a tight ship?
Simply because I know everything falls on me. Because I don’t have that partner to help respond to the night wakings, or respond to one child while I respond to another. Because I know that it just wont happen if I am not the one to do it.
Often times when the parents are both home, one takes the lead, dragging or lifting up the rest of the family, partner included. That’s typically when kids find a way to test boundaries. When they don’t recognize the routine, when they don’t see a firm boundary, they push the limits. Children are more likely to fight and delay bedtime, and feel their cup less full, when the parents don’t seem to be in sync. However, when parents work together, or a caregiver is successfully parenting alone, the boundary is clear and firm. When we find structure and routines in our lives, we are capable of so much more stability and balance, allowing us to truly thrive. Whether you do this with your partner by your side or not. Kids, as well as adults, truly thrive better on a routine.
The key takeaway? Routine is our lifeboat in the choppy waters of parenting. It's not about doing it alone or with a partner; it's about the structure that helps us all thrive.
So, whether you're a solo sailor or navigating the seas with a co-captain, remember: a solid routine is your North Star.