This parent can't one day without routine in her life.
Trust me, if you had asked me to voice my opinion on this 19 months ago, I would have said, I don't like routine, it drives me crazy and here I am stating exactly the opposite. From the day my beautiful little daughter was born, I stuck to a routine. Initially she dictated the routine, but we lived by it, which meant, that every 2 hours she would feed, I would change her nappy like clock-work before each feed, and every afternoon around 17h00 she would have a bath. She now loves to bath, so much so, that I have to pull the plug and let the water run out, all while she is still merrily playing, transferring the water from the bath onto my bathroom floor, or whatever, until she has no choice but to realise that her little body is getting cold and then she will jump up to be rescued.
Granted, I've been blessed with a baby that has slept through the night since she was 6 weeks old, so starting a routine, might have been a hint easier, than in most cases, but it was also shere determination and, I'll have to admit, having read possibly each and every book on parenting and the development of babies, in which the necessity of routine was meticulously emphasised, that I made a point of it. I work full day, am a single mother and if it wasn't for routine, trust me, I would be a chaotic and nervous wreck. Breakfast is at the same time each day (granted, during the week, I pack her breakfast to take with to creche), lunch is always between 12h00 and 12h30, nap time (which used to be at 10h00 until 11h30), has now moved to 12h30 and whether she likes it or not, I do put her in her cot at that time, and do my own thing. Perhaps, having a routine, from day dot has helped in Bianca sleeping through the night, but also with the fact that she is actually such a calm and easy going child. She has even realised that on weekends, after her morning bottle of milk (on waking), she may walk into my room, sit on the bed and we read together, which in the week she doesnt' even attempt, as she knows that it's get ready and go. She will point out if I forget to do something, which is normally in the routine, like she won't sit on the bed with me, unless I cover her legs with the blanket, while she sits in front of me. Those few precious moments that I can share with her, are so amazing and heart-warming, that I wouldn't give them up for anything. Then, weekend or not, bath time is no later than 18h30 and she is in bed by 19h00. Granted, lately I have heard the distress call of Mama, Mama echoing from the room, but I don't enter, as I know it's just to obtain attention, but merely acknowledge her from the other room, stating that I am there and that she must sleep tight. Honestly, I could set my alarm clock according to Bianca and it is our little way of achieving daily tasks and a happy home.
The bedtime routine has also worked wonders when visiting with family or friends. Christmas Eve, normally a big affair in our house, my little angel, despite being in a 'strange' room, 'strange' home, fell asleep at 19h10, and thereby I could enjoy a beautifully prepared, and relaxing meal with the rest of the family. I carried her into her car seat at midnight, she opened her eyes, in a sleepy state said "bye-bye" to everyone and once at home, she fell asleep within seconds, waking, as per clock work at her normal time the next day.
Perhaps, having had a routine and having her sleep in her own room from the first day, has helped me in having such an easy child.
It's not always easy to stick to a routine, but it sure helps keep things sane and it seems to calm the child. I am by no means an expert, this is my first child and I never expected to be doing this all on my own, so my survival instinct had to kick in, and it has been to our benefit. We are one happy little family, including toddler tantrums, Mama-tantrums (hey, we may have those too - ha ha). I sometimes wonder how come I wasn't bored before with my life, where there wasn't any real routine and I had all the time in the world to do as I pleased, cause now, my life seems to make so much more sense, routine and all.