When it comes to parenting, there really is never a 'one size fits all' approach to anything. At least, not one that works. You can read all the parenting books and you can get all the advice you like from friends, family and experts- but at the end of the day you are the one who knows your child best. That is to say that only YOU know whether your child is best suited to a routine or schedule. This week we're looking at the benefits of both, so that you can make your mind up for yourself.
The difference between a routine and a schedule
You'd be forgiven for thinking that a routine and a schedule are one and the same thing. But actually they are separately very different approaches, and there are pros and cons to them both. Essentially, both a routine and a schedule are plans with an objective- the difference comes in the way that you achieve these objectives.
A routine requires you to perform the same things in the same order each day- so for example at bedtime you would do the bath, then the story and then tucking up in bed. Always in that order, but with no strict timings applied. A schedule would be the same events in the same order, but to a timetable that is rigid, and that doesn't change no matter what life throws at you.
Should I follow a routine or a schedule?
As already mentioned, whether you follow a routine or a schedule is entirely up to you. Some parents find that being strict on timings helps them to organise their days better, while others know that often things come up that means being flexible is a must. The only way to know what's going to work best is by keeping a journal for a week or so, and see whether or not you need the flexibility of a routine, or if sticking to timings actually benefits your family better.
Benefits of a routine
- A routine means that you can be more relaxed, and more open to changes in your day to day life. A must if you are a busy family with members coming and going.
- A routine means that you can tweak your days as your baby grows and their needs change. Being flexible also allows for disruptions such as teething and illness- being responsive to your child and allowing them to lead the way.
- A routine can be tailored to your specific child's needs and doesn't rely on clock watching.
- A routine means that travel and special occasions don't cause disruptions to your child's sleep.
Benefits of a schedule
- A schedule benefits families who like to be organised and feel comfortable knowing what to expect and when. For larger families it can make all the difference knowing who will be where and when.
- A schedule suits those who are definite creatures of habit. Some babies (and parents) are comforted by knowing exactly what they're doing and when and this can help to foster independence at bedtime too.
- Being on a schedule makes it easier to plan your time off. If you know the baby will be in bed by a certain time, you know you have that time to yourself. This can be essential for some parents, and it can really help to make the hard days pass more quickly.