I am a big believer that children thrive on routine, and it is certainly the case for Miss Rose. She likes her dinner by five, her bath at six, and to be asleep by seven. Efforts to take her outside this routine have thus far proven extremely difficult; she ends up distressed and miserable, is hard to settle to sleep, and has a bad night. It has never been worth it.
Yesterday we went to The Twins second birthday party. We arrived in time for lunch, a spectacular feast spread across two tables, and began an afternoon filled with chicken chasing, water fighting, and trampoline bouncing, rounded off by a game of croquet that The Twins and Miss Rose indulged in both enthusiastically and unsuccessfully. All in all Miss Rose had a wonderful time.
The plan was to eat dinner with The Twins at the normal time, then get her into her pyjamas and take her home ready to go to bed at the usual time. I decided that slight break in her routine would be a good challenge for her to see how she coped, and she had been successfully doused in the water fight that she could forgo her bath.
However, the fact we planned on leaving was not met with enthusiasm by The Family of The Twins who all insisted we spend the night. All very well and good, but I didn’t have my glasses, my pyjamas, or my toothbrush. Miss Rose didn’t have clean nappies or her cuddly Sheep. It was decided that we should go home, collect the things we need, then return for an evening with The Family.
This provided several “challenges” for Miss Rose in a routine break.
a) The journey home and back meant her bed time was pushed back significantly
b) Sleeping in a strange bed, in a strange house
c) Having been crashing around on the trampoline and exchanging sloppy kisses with The Twins she was in no way rested ready for bed
On returning to the house, I was escorted immediately to the spare room where Rose and I would be sleeping. I settled her into the bed and closed the curtains, whilst she gazed around in a combination of anxiety and excitement. Fortunately the drive had calmed her into a suitably relaxed state, so I didn’t meet too much of a challenge. A bottle and a nice read of “Anne Of Green Gables” and she was soon snoring contentedly with her face smushed into the belly of Sheep.
Returning to The Family I was embraced with a glass of wine, my kind of people, and settled on the sofa to watch X Factor. An evening of debating about contestants, squabbling over the show’s impact on the music industry, and laughing hysterically at one another’s singing ensued. I popped back and forth neurotically checking on Miss Rose for signs of unhappiness but found her snoring each time. I was genuinely shocked.
At around half past eleven I abandoned the remaining member of The Family who had not yet retired to bed, and slid under the duvet next to a contentedly snoring Miss Rose.
Amazing… for approximately one more hour.
She woke up. Apparently realised she wasn’t in her or my bed in our little house where she always is, and panicked. She screeched then fell out of the bed, then screeched some more.
I held her, soothed her, tried to settle her. She started to settle and calm down, then suddenly woke up again shrieking. Every time I thought she had settled, the quiet descending like a blanket, I began to go back to sleep (as did the other occupants of the house) then she started up again.
Eventually I scooped her up and tiptoed downstairs to the kitchen to make her a bottle (something I try to avoid doing but sometimes needs must) where I found The Mother making a cup of hot chocolate and looking tired.
I apologised profusely, apologies all batted away with assurances that she is used to babies having raised four as well as being a grandmother, and fetched the milk for the bottle. I then scurried quickly back upstairs and snuggled her back down.
We normally get up between 5 and 6 in the morning. Miss Rose slept until nearly 7. Apparently the bottle and the snuggles after the screaming session provided enough reassurance that she was safe and she slept like an angel.
I wouldn’t call this routine break a complete success, and neither would those in the bedroom next to ours, but equally so it was a bigger success than I anticipated. She slept (admittedly in two parts) and I got an evening of drinking and laughing with other people!
Breaking her routine isn’t something I plan on doing often, but knowing I can do it occasionally without too big of a problem is reassuring. She survived, I survived, and we got an evening away. Hurrah!
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!