What Hits the Fan When We Ignore Toddlers’ Schedules

When we brought Sawyer home, we were very careful to avoid interrupting Jasper’s routine as much as possible. My parents worked hard to stick to my to-the-minute bedtime instructions, and Patrick kept mornings running smoothly. Jasper was a bit jealous that Sawyer was getting all of my attention, but for the most part, his life continued along the same lines that it always has. People thought that I was being a bit ridiculous about how vehemently we worked to stick to the routine, but we stuck to it.

When I returned to work a couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law was generous enough to come out and watch Sawyer for us, so that he could continue to get plenty of attention while I was at school.

Patrick wanted to take advantage of this great time withhis mom, and reasonably wanted to change our routine. So, we relaxed the rules, as I was feeling like I might have been unreasonable with my strict scheduling.

Patrick was convinced that Jasper would enjoy more screen time and a more relaxed routine. Instead of appreciating the more relaxed parenting model, Jasper began to act out.

Our daycare provider stopped me at the door on Monday afternoon.

“Kate… Did you and Patrick have a fight? Did something big happen at home?” Our daycare provider asked, cautiously. She explained that Jasper had stopped using the bathroom, and had several accidents during the day. Jasper was acting out in a “typical” toddler way, but…

I stopped in my tracks, horrified.

That’s when it occurred to me: I hadn’t considered the huge change in routine that Grandma’s presence had on Jasper’s routine. We didn’t have a lot of time to talk to him in the morning, and had to hurry out the door to work. Exhausted, I was often feeding Sawyer all evening, and Jasper’s TV time was extended, as was his screen time on the tablets. Dinner time was not focused around our toddler, and he resented it.

After a week of this, Jasper let us know how he felt in the most primitive, clearest way that he could.

So, I printed up some Batman sticker charts, and Patrick and I started tracking positive discussions that we had with Jasper. Screen time was strictly limited, again, and we made sure to make dinner about our little guy. Jasper and Patrick racked up a ton of stars, and our kid was back to himself faster than you could say… “Batman!”

Lesson learned: our rules and routine are actually pretty important to our toddler.


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