In Defense of My Rigid Schedule


April 4, 2013 by Melissa

I’ve always been one to stick to a schedule, especially when it comes to my kids. I work better on a routine and my kids certainly do as well. Lately, though, I’ve encountered some eye-rolling and some attempts to make me feel like I’m being too strict or rigid. Now I feel the need to defend myself and any parent who bows out early from a party or get-together to get their kid down for a nap or bedtime or who doesn’t want to travel too far from home at certain times of the day for fear of getting stuck somewhere or their kid falling asleep in the car and, thus, not napping.

My girls are great sleepers. They love going to bed (vast majority of the time) and they go to sleep and stay asleep easily and without much fuss. When they get their normal amount of sleep, they’re great kids. I’m proud to be their mom. They are well behaved, they’re cooperative, they’re cheerful. When they don’t get enough sleep, they’re, to be quite honest, beasts. And not just for that day. It affects their next sleep session (takes them forever to calm down and go to sleep and they’re usually up a lot during the course of the night) and affects their behavior well into the next day or two. It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of kids show decreased symptoms of ADD and ADHD when they get more sleep. My girls are impulsive, aggressive (for them), uncooperative, they talk back and throw tantrums when they’re short on sleep. That’s not who they are.

I know every once in a while is not going to cause irrepairable harm and we have let it slide a few times because we couldn’t get around when a wedding was or when the rest of the family could be together or when our swim classes for Alice were, but these times don’t happen often. We don’t let them. I’ve had people say that I’m depriving my kids of great experiences by keeping them on such a schedule but I disagree. Nobody has fun or experiences much of anything when you have a tired crabby kid. At least not in my family. I have to be on extra parenting alert when my girls are tired. They need much more attention with all the extra meltdowns and neediness.

Now, my kids really need their naps and not every kid is like that. Lucy has never slept more than 10 hours in a stretch and Alice isn’t much better with her 10.5 hour stretch at night. So they both take 2.5-3 hour naps in the afternoon. Some kids sleep 12-14 hours at night and don’t necessarily need that nap. Mine do.

I realize that I have the luxery to be able to keep them on a tight schedule and not many people have the same situation. I’m home with the girls and can enforce such a schedule every day of the week. I get that. But please don’t judge me for it. It’s my perogative as a mother and I’m proud of their sleeping and eating habits. Most people in childcare or education work will say the same thing: kids thrive on a schedule. Mine certainly have and continue to. So we make it known ahead of time, when possible, that we may be late or have to leave early and that’s that. Or, if possible, we try to negotiate start/end times to get the most out of the event.

Have you experienced issues with sticking to a schedule? How have you dealt with it? Do you stick to your guns? Do certain people have the ability to make you cave in or feel bad about it?

3 thoughts on “In Defense of My Rigid Schedule

  1. I like to enforce nap time and bed time too. My preschooler doesn’t take naps anymore but my almost two year old does. I make sure we’re home by 2:00 for nap time. If she falls asleep in the car for just five minutes, nap time is history for that day and it’s more difficult for her to sleep at night. So I don’t make excuses or apologies for enforcing naps, etc. Others may not understand it, but at the end of the day, we’re the ones that know what’s best for our kids and that is why God gave them parents. I don’t feel that my kids have missed out on anything by having a routine. In fact, I think of it as a security blanket. 🙂

  2. Gina says:

    We are very routine in our house and I also have had many people tell me I need to be more flexible. I just tell them this is what works for us. My kids know their routine, like it (for the most part) and it makes life easier for all of us. I

  3. I’ve been a “nap Nazi” with my kids. I arranged my schedule around naptime and my kids were nappers for a long time…at least 4 years old. The oldest still had quiet time after morning kindergarten because I needed a nap with toddler twins! That said, I’ve had to be more flexible with this last little guy. Naptime was usually fine, but the 7 or 7:30 bedtime I prefer gets really difficult when you have older kids (they are 10 and 6 years older.) I’ve stayed home from Cub Scout family activities and gotten babysitters for school concerts when I could, but too often it wasn’t feasible. And when those fun older brothers are home all day, naptime is hard. I let him give up napping last summer, at 3 1/4, but started it back again in the fall, with fair success. Treasure this time when you are fully in charge of their schedules. It really is true that once they start school, you lose a lot of control over their time…and yours.

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