I have to confess: I let my son’s routine run my life. And do you know why? Because it’s just easier, that’s why. It’s easier because he is easier to manage, making being a parent less tiring. I admit that I am that mom, the mom that lives according to a schedule, the same mundane schedule every day, not the mom that lives from one adventure to the next, child in tow.
Routine makes Bean happy, it keeps him centred, his world balanced and as it should be – or should I rather say as he got used to it being. The minute something in that routine changes or a person with an integral role in his life leaves for a couple of days (for example a parental business trip), I immediately notice little changes in his behaviour, showing me that something simply is not right with my sensitive little guy: he sleeps less, needs to be rocked more and a little longer, he is quieter, he cries easier and more, and he is a lot more demanding.
And let’s be honest, managing a distraught little toddler who does not understand why things change or why people need to leave every now and again, is exhausting! It’s exhausting because it’s sad to see him upset (even if it’s just a little) and it’s infuriating because I cannot really do anything about it. No parent wants an unhappy child, it’s simply not in our nature as caregivers. And so, I stick to his routine, religiously, because when he is happy, I am happy.
I clearly remember a conversation I had with my mom and sister shortly after we found out I was pregnant. Being a naïve non-parent, I was adamant that I would not let this new baby rule my life – if I wanted to go for dinner, for example, he would simply have to come along. Now, all I do is laugh when I think of this. I could not have known how tired I would be all the time: so tired that dinner and socialising (and the mere thought of having to hold a decent conversation after putting all my energy into developing a tiny human all day) would simply seem like too much effort. I could not have known that taking care of a family means giving so much of myself on a daily basis that at night all I can do is just be. I could not have known that keeping my child happy, content and asleep (when he is finally sleeping) would become my number one priority.
Of course, we make the time to explore new places, to socialise with friends and family, but we do this within our routine. And if we cannot fit it into our routine, then we do not do it. And it really is as simple as that.
One day, when Bean is older, when he has a better understanding of what is happening around him, we will be spontaneous and sociable again. But for now, we will stick to a schedule, his schedule, because it simply is easier and it simply is less exhausting.