The problem with school holidays and lack of toddler routine

Life with a toddler
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I’ve found the summer holidays really quite tiring and difficult. I know I’m not alone, but, before you say, why did you have kids then, or, you should enjoy the time with your kids, I’ll clarify: I’m a SAHM to my 21 month old toddler. I spend every single day with my her, and hubby is home at weekends. Every day I entertain, I sooth, I comfort, I play, I ride out the tantrums. Toddler H, like lots of 21 month olds, loves her routine and her friends. Throughout summer all our usual classes and play groups have been off. I completely understand why, the teachers and leaders want to spend time with their own older kids. That was the reason they started their own businesses so, yes, I do understand. But, it’s been a long 6 weeks of trying to plan things everyday that are tiring and if possible that don’t involve places that are absurdly busy during school holidays or less toddler friendly once schools kick out.

Ok, you may say I’m limiting what I do and it’s my own fault I should just go out. Don’t worry, I do. I go out doing things every day, every morning we get up and go. We go to soft play and my daughter gets knocked over by older kids in the toddler section or the big park which is heaving and overwhelming. I go out every day for walks, we play in the local parks, we go shopping and do lots of walking, to friends’ houses for play dates and visit umpteen attractions. We have a wonderful time. What is hard is the lack of routine. To be clear, the lack of tiring routine, her normal routine filled with classes, playgroups and swimming lessons really tires her out. Ok, she didn’t always nap before the school holidays, and at times we did struggle, it’s just the way it is, but the new stimulus, the new toys, the familiar faces and all the activities that groups such a Boogie Beats, Tatty Bumpkin entail, is what a toddler needs. In the week we’ve been back to normal, H has napped every single day. Ok, I’ve had to push her in the pushchair for this to happen, and she’s woken as soon as I got in the driveway, but it’s a nap. She’s been happy after, and as a result had full happy days instead of having really grumpy afternoons like she did in the holidays. I’d do the same hour plus walks during the holidays and was left with a wide awake grumpy toddler screaming to get out for a mummy cuddle. So I sometimes ended up carrying her on these walks while pushing the pushchair, sweating in the heat and utterly exhausted, or she walked and I pushed an empty pushchair. I know, that’s real life, that’s parenting, but most toddlers do nap.

Throughout the whole summer holidays I could count on my two hands the number of times she napped. I tried and tried, we ran ragged in the park, played with friends left right and centre, we went in the car, for long walks in the pram, long walks with her walking… The list goes on but she revolted. Refused. She absolutely totally and utterly did not nap. It was exhausting for her. It was utterly exhausting for me. She was grumpy and miserable. The afternoons were spent with her in ‘sleepy position’ on the floor or couch. But, it would last only minutes before she would jump up and start being cheeky testing boundaries. It was obvious she wanted to sleep, something just wasn’t clicking. It culminated in the last couple of weeks of bedtime chaos. Yes, other things might have been coming into play too, but living off 8-9 hours sleep a night, she was over tired and the poor girl didn’t know what to do with her self. She was miserable. We were miserable. We were at our wits end.

Now we’ve been back in a good routine for a week: classes in the morning and then the exhausted little mischief has had a nap either in the car or pushchair. I couldn’t believe it the first day. I was absolutely shocked. Regular readers will know this: my daughter does not nap. Occasionally she might, but not often more an twice a week. Definitely not four days in a row. Each day she napped last week, it was only 20-30 minutes, just long enough for me to get back home from our walk and her wake as I walked in the driveway. I didn’t manage to sit down apart from one day when she napped for almost an hour and a half in the car. She hadn’t slept well at all that night, waking screaming the house down a couple of times, so boy did she need that sleep. She slept and I enjoyed sitting on the drive blogging and drinking a coffee. It was lovely. Really really lovely. I appreciated every minute and it set me up for the rest of the week.

I hope these naps continue, and perhaps if I’m not being cheeky I might get to sit down more too. But, routine is key. She gets excited when I tell her what we’re going to the next day and when she gets up in the morning. She knows what’s what, who she’ll see and where she’ll be. Like all of us, it’s a nice comfort knowing what we’re doing, and who we’ll see. We also know how to prepare and how to recover, in mummy’s case with a cup of coffee, in toddler’s case with a nap. I hope it continues!

On the subject of routine, you might recall my post on our bedtime struggles well we’ve been doing well for a week now. Touch wood! I don’t want to jinx it! It all came down to routine too. Hubby puts her to bed with a nice short consistent routine. What was the problem? It was me, I was too soft. I was mummy cuddles. I was the one she always takes advantage of. She behaves nicely for daddy, so I’ve had a nice few nights off! When she asks for mummy, hubby says mummy’s asleep because it’s sleepy time.

I have since put her to bed myself and she was perfect. Yes, being back in routine might have helped, and having had a brief nap must have too. She’s just so much happier all day after a short nap. So, school holidays, I’m so glad you’re over. I love my routine, I love my time as a SAHM, and I have my happier daughter back.

One happy mummy,

Lynne x

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  • Reply
    September 17, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Routine is everything. I find my daughter really thrives with it. If anything throws her routine out she is not a happy lady. I find bedtime routine has been the hardest thing to put in place the best thing I have done to date!! I hope your good week continues into next!! Tania x

  • Reply
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    […] we do. We don’t sit at home all day in our own bubble, we’re out and about. We have a routine, classes or play groups most mornings, home for lunch and play dates, coffees, or shopping in the […]

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