Rituals and Routines – The first “discipline” of consistency
I have an 8X10 photo of myself almost 1 year after the birth of my youngest daughter and there are two dark holes with a little speck of light where my eyes should’ve been. I was more messed up than I thought! With too many things only I could do and not enough of me to complete the list, I needed an intervention!
Let’s just tell the truth. Many of us moms secretly love the chaos of motherhood. It gives us purpose—to face each day as an unexpected surprise and then see how effective we can be against the challenges our children present. Babies have a way of being just unpredictable enough that something is bound to come up that throws you off the rails.
But here’s the catch: there’s a huge difference between an unpredictable event and everyday chaos. Chaos is crazy-making. Not just for you, but even more so for your baby. If there is one thing a child wants and needs from parents, it’s consistency. Being consistent with your behaviors and expectations, consistent with managing the day and consistent with guiding baby through the day shows your ability to lead and set a predictable tone.
It may be hard to wrap your head around this concept, but the transition from chaos to consistency can be simple to implement. Below is a list of little things that will make a difference to baby and to you. These are what I call baby’s Significant 7 consistency needs (after your affirming love and commitment, which is a given):
- Consistent and pleasant getting up and finishing the day routines
- Consistent available nourishment (if breastfeeding) and appropriately timed healthful meals and snacks (after weaning is complete)
- Consistent sleep every day and every night appropriate to age. (Kids are emotional train wrecks the next day if they don’t get adequate sleep the night before.)
- Consistent 1:1 time with you
- Consistent side:side time “alone” (your shower, your TV show, your email, etc.)
- Consistent time with a someone else besides you (so baby can enjoy the company of other adults)
- Consistent limits to keep baby safe.
If you’re afraid that all this consistency will make you too regimented, please note that I do not suggest a daily bath. Nor that the meal be home grown, home cooked, and organic. Or that baby bottles are not allowed, etc. The point is to have a basic framework that is predictable and includes some time for YOU (see #6) to be alone doing what-ever.
As parents, we know deep in our hearts, that we can’t organize everything. All that stuff in your living room? That’s your baby’s “office” and most of what is there is itty bitty, oddly shaped, or too big to be easily stored. But amid the mess of everyday, you can become more consistent; for yourself, your relationships, and for baby.