One of the most important tools that you can use to help your children with sleeping, eating, behavior, etc. is setting up a routine. I know that schedules aren’t for everyone and if it doesn’t work for your family then it just doesn’t work. But if you are on the fence about making a routine and schedule for your children, but are afraid that the schedules will soon rule you, then hear this:
Because of this, you can be out late with your kids one night and then plop them into bed early another night. This sounds great and like I said, and for some people it works. But a lot of those late nights end up with the children screaming and fighting. Then the nights that you try to get them to bed early (because they are exhausted) end up as power struggles (please one more show, just another book, I’m not tired yet, pleeeeaaase)
If you have a schedule and a routine for your children, then neither you nor your children are guessing what is next, and you don’t have to struggle with difficult behavior or tantrums which often makes it difficult to go out or to travel.
If dinner is always around 6 pm and bedtime is always around 7:30, (or whatever time works for you) then you can have many nights out and come home and your child goes straight to bed. If you want to go out later, then one of the spouses can leave without having to worry about power struggles at home, or you can bring the children out every once in a while and it won’t affect their routine at all. A good rule of thumb is stick to the routine about 90% of the time and you can totally throw the routine out the window 10% of the time without any ill effects.
Don’t be afraid that setting up a steady routine will be the end of your social life and having fun, in fact, it is exactly the opposite. So if you are thinking about how you can get out more, or how you can do that trip that you have been thinking about for the last year; start today with a good schedule and before you know it, your life with kids will be more exciting and fun than before kids!!