11 November 2009


(This post is boring me, but I've already typed it. If you just read the first few paragraphs and skip our routine, I won't hold it against you.)


This is one that is oft-touted, and very important, for the same reason that a small world is. Routine makes life predictable and safe. It relieves some of the hypervigilence. If you know what is coming next, you don't have to worry. And you don't have to have as many contingency plans.

Children living in an orphanage have a fairly rigid routine. They're not often given choices. So, by keeping a routine in place for a child newly home, you're providing comfort, familiarity and relieving stress. All good.

I'm a planner. (Big surprise.) And in this case, I'm so glad I'd thought about routine before I had Lexi with me. Because, on that first night, when you've got this little person looking up at you, you're not going to have time to stop and plan things out. And the orphanage schedule, while it *may* prove helpful for mealtimes and sleeptimes in the beginning, is not going to help you figure out what you do at bedtime. Do you bathe at night? Do you brush your teeth before or after your bath? Do you read stories/sing songs/whatever? Where? What about morning? Do you get dressed and make your bed before breakfast? After? At all? (kidding)

Some routines and rituals get set without you even knowing it-so be careful. ;> We brushed teeth together that first night, eye to eye, Lexi mimicking my body language. Since then, she feels incredibly shut out if I don't brush teeth with her (If, say I was planning to eat the last brownie after she's asleep and so I told her I'll wait and brush later. Hypothetically.). And she still does it with a hand on her hip.

We had to change some things. We started out bathing at night and found that was too overstimulating. We didn't have a rocking chair until we got home and so we rocked on the bed. Changing these things (and changing bathtime back to evening in preparation for school) was HARD.

While I'm not good at doing everything the same, even in my classroom, we do have a structure to our days. It's just a flexible structure.

Stay in *a* bed (sleep post coming, too) until 7:00.

We get up and eat in our pajamas.

We clear the table, tidy up the kitchen and put away clean dishes (she does all the lower cabinets and silverware).

Then she gets dressed (after I explain again that now we take a bath at night). I take a shower while she watches Kipper. Or, I explain again that now we take a bath at night, she watches Kipper and gets dressed after I shower. It depends on how much I want a shower and how much she wants clothes.

Then, whatever. We play.

Lunch is at 11:45 ish (the time they eat at school). We clear the table together. Depending on how long lunch takes, we either play a bit or go right to rest/nap.

12:45/1:00-2:00 Ask Lexi if she want to rest or sleep. Have rest time.

Whatever. Usually something big and messy and fun after rest, because I'm rested, too. This is when we do school things some days. Sometimes this is when we go for a walk. The weather is generally better in the morning, and she's a morning bug, but somehow we don't get out then (except for Thursdays when the cleaner comes and we have to be out). I think it's because I'd have to blow-dry my hair.

5:45ish dinner I've played with this time a little and can't quite get it right.

We clean up the dinner mess and she plays for a bit.

6:45 on shampoo nights, by 7:00 if it's not, we start getting ready for bed. There are routines within our daily routine, and this may be as good a place as any to explain...

  • She chooses pajamas, underwear and socks if she wants them while I run the bath.
  • Bath with bubbles--play with cups, pretend to make food, swim, say, "You're my little fish!", count down the fish times, *or* "No fish today. Tomorrow you can be a fish." before she gets in the bath (She can be a fish on shampoo nights. That's every other night--with its own script about chin up and the shampoo being American and won't hurt her eyes, etc.)
  • Lotion--lavender at night, aveeno in the morning warmed in my hands. The first lotion dollop is my handprint on her tummy, name body parts as you lotion, "discover" all the food from the day in her tummy.
  • Get dressed in underwear, pajamas, debate socks (since her toes are polished) with herself.
  • (Bottle here if she wants one. Regression post coming!)
  • Brush teeth--I do hers first and then we brush together. We fluoride rinse- me holding her, humming a song to time it.
  • (Blow dry goes here if it's a shampoo night--her on my lap)
  • Lexi chooses books.
  • Melatonin, books, lights out, review the day, plan tomorrow, pray, sing one song, say goodnight to everything, sing some more
Actually, our singing and good-nighting depends on her. If she starts processing, I process with her. If she needs to talk, we say "good night" to everyone and everything in the world, if she asks or if she's contented and quiet, I sing.

She's usually asleep around 8:00. Usually.

That's kind of what we do. It's working for us.

I'll post about rituals next as this is long...and they're a little different from routines in my mind.


Tina in CT said...

From what you wrote, I can see that you've done a lot of research. Guess you'll have to vary your routine a bit when school starts and hope it goes smoothly.

beckyww said...

What is Melatonin?

Kathy Friend said...

I can't remember if I asked you this. Anya is 7 (just a little older than Lexi) so a lot of what you are doing is very interesting to me. I have never considered giving her a bottle...help me through that. Is that something Lexi took well? I am just thinking about Anya, and with her it seems everything is "Mommy, I am a big girl".

Just wondering....

Annie said...

You are such a good mommy. But, I suppose I did start as I meant to go on, which is to say....routines around bed, meals and morning. A "format" (formula) for doing things like getting in the car - who sits where, when seatbelts are clicked, etc.

You reminded me of the toothbrushing "mistake" I made - after "timing" the brushing by singing "rhymes-and-songs" so as to teach American culture whilst making the toothbrushing less onorous, I did set up something that was extremely difficult to alter. STILL have to do this four years later for Nastya on occasion.

And, after a year or so of going to bed when they do, I made some reference last night to Zhen going on up and getting into bed while I finished some lesson plans and it became clear that in his mind WE ALL GO TO BED AT THE SAME TIME. Always. I tried to point out that this is not always the case - that some parents go to bed even AN HOUR OR TWO "after the children". He clearly thought this was hooey. So much so, that this morning he actually was making fun of my saying such a silly thing. That's when I realized - he really doesn't know that some parents have a life!

jen.weber said...

Love hearing about your routines. I am very into doing things the way that works best. Tyler is my most imaginitive so I find if I go along with his pretending, he will go along with what I want him to do. Ty - "Mommy I am a fire truck". Me - "It is time for the fire truck to go potty". etc