Toddler bureaucracy

memeIt was when little miss 2.5 was lining mummy pig, baby pig, monkey and baby teddy at the doorway of the bathroom before we brushed her teeth tonight that I finally got, that she got, how the whole thing works. And, as I reminded her to keep her mouth open for the 23rd time, the next thought dawned on me… not only does she know how the whole thing works, the cheeky %&#! is winning.

As a family the three of us have grown up a lot, made some cracking mistakes and learned from a few of them. One of the things we figured out was that, for us, routine works. Getting miss 2.5 to sleep, eat, bath or any other activity in her first months was nearly impossible. We did the sleep clinic thing that turned into the Tresillian thing, threw in the sleep coach thing and tried a bit of super-nursing to finally understand that for our little girl, routine was everything. Our pre-child ideas of strapping the infant into the Baby Bjorn whilst we attended parties, BBQ’s and trips to pubs flew out of the window as we realised that meals needed to be by the clock, sleeping needed to be part of a minute-by-minute build up and we needed to change our lives completely to minimise the change in hers.

For some parents this would seem over the top but for us, at the time, with the little person we were getting know and the experience we had this worked. And so it began, our period of OCD when we would ensure that everything was as little miss 2.5 expected, only daring to change things if absolutely necessary, under strictly controlled circumstances. It was tough in our first 18 months. We missed out on a lot, drifted from friends and family as we spent time at home avoiding changes to routine but after the first 6 months of our time as parents, it seemed like a fair price to pay.

As is the way with children however, our little girl was growing and maturing all the time. Things that used to a big deal stopped being so and their were little hints that she was far more chilled out than her OCD parents. Take toilet training – 3 days with a few accidents and then easy. Spending the day with Nan and Pop – paaaaarty, dropping sleeps, out to dinner, occasionally going to bed after 8:30 – all her in stride.

But the with the maturity comes the “smarts”. The teddy’s that we put in her cot as part of her sleeping routine are now cleverly placed at either end of the house so come bed time, we have to go “searching” for them. The songs that we used to sing in a specific order need to still be sung but now, little miss 2.5 starts different songs with us, however if we try and put her to bed without baa baa black sheep she reminds us all too quickly. In short, she has figured out how to use our insecurities and hang ups against us. The dread of having tears before bed (traditionally brought on by teeth brushing) is now being expertly exploited to stretch the bedtime routine longer and longer.

So the good news is she’s pretty much normal. The challenge is that her parents, who have spent the last 2.5 years trying to control everything need to start turning off that instinct a bit (or at least keep it to themselves) and assume, rather than the worst case scenario, that change will be met elegantly. So how about you and yours? Have your offspring figured out how to deploy their own kiddy bureaucracy for their own gain? What crazy steps did you have in your routines (that you now laugh at) and what would you do differently now?

As always, sharing my blogging Tuesday with Jess over at essentiallyjess  for #IBOT

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22 Responses to Toddler bureaucracy

  1. Kelly HTandT says:

    We have 3 VERY different children, so we’ve changed our approach each time, it helps to keep them on their toes! But yes they have figured us out quick smart. My 4yr old son can argue the leg off a chair, he’s so logical. But my 2.5yr old son will sweet talk the leg off a chair, he’s so charming. The biggest change we’ve made is with dinner and bed time. Our first son was fed (home made baby food) bathed and in bed BEFORE we had our 6pm dinner. But now the whole family (even the 9 month old) have dinner together. We all eat the same food – no purees or mash – then the kids are bathed and put to bed. This largely came about because #2 son was so difficult at bed time as a baby that we’d never have dinner together because one of us was always trying to settle him. In the end we gave up, kept both of the boys up so we could eat together. And there I go writing a ridiculously long comment again.

  2. Roshni says:

    Very clever indeed! We’re pretty much the take-it-or-leave-it kind, unfortunately! We have of course changed our sleep routine drastically for our kids, reduced our spice levels in our food, but other than that, we try not to cater too much…. as you found out, they play on our insecurities, so we finally drew a line!!

  3. iSophie says:

    All 4 boys very different. One is highly sensitive which offers a host of challenges with discipline (rarely.. if he is ever in the wrong).

    Bedtime is a nightmare, esp now with it being freaking daylight until after 9pm!

    I didn’t have my milk (um yes you did!)
    I need water
    Where is super croccy?
    I need to make a tent (seriously, now?)
    x brother threw his pillow at my head
    I need to do a wee
    I didn’t have a hug from brother x
    I need a kiss from brother x
    That was a missed kiss!
    Brother x wont make ghost noises when I asked him too.

    It goes on. And on.

  4. We tried, and failed, to implement a good routine with our first. Now, with three, we give in to all kinds of whims in the effort to keep all of them from waking each other through the night! Some would call it ‘relaxed’ parenting – others would call it lazy ;)

  5. My first girl needed 5 bottles of cold water placed on a shelf high on her wall. It made no sense, but it was very important to her at the time. That was a weird one to tell the baby sitter. Rachel x

  6. Meagan says:

    hahaha they are much much more clever than we give them credit for, I got duped MANY a time when I was Nannying!!! best of luck to you :)

  7. Thankfully my children are all fairly routine free, which is lucky because I am not very good with the same thing all the time ;). Having said that though there is always a search for the rig toy to take to bed in our house as well.
    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses #teamIBOT

  8. Ah would you believe that it’s only now that I let Miss 4 stay up to watch a movie weekends? Well, it is Christmas after all lol. Unfortunately I have been probably, make that definitely too strict with her routines and am now paying the price. She certainly know which buttons to push and now I’m having to train myself to deal with the fallout lol. Oh how first babies wrap us around their fingers. Don’t worry, Number Two will be a breeze ;)

  9. We had to do routine by the minute when our girls were young – it’s only now that Sophie is 3 that she’s started to be ok with a more relaxed routine – but I still need it when it comes to bedtime ;) Wouldn’t change a thing – even though my friends thought I was a little crazy about dinner times, nap times and bottle times :)

  10. Rita Azar says:

    Hi Kevin! Just passing by to let you know I have nominated you for The Sunshine Award! See here: http://thecraftyexpat.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/the-sunshine-award/

  11. Oh, they are clever little monkeys. We’ve found that every time we think we have it cracked something changes. G does the lost teddy trick too. Or starts asking for some random book that we haven’t read in months and I have to go hunting the house for it.

  12. melba says:

    the second anything changes in my nearly four year old’s routine, she is straight on to it. Drags out every trick in the book: water, toilet, last kiss for Daddy, beanie baby, doggie, scarlett and rainbow rabbit all need to be located. How does know exactly where every toy in the house is located? She and Miss two- and-a-half know that asking for endless kisses and cuddles usually works and I will stay in there for hours delivering a variety of butterfly, eskimo and other face kissing routines as long as I get kisses back. She also knows that if she gives me 15/20 minutes to sit on the couch and have a couple of sips of wine before starting up again with the what’s that noise? I’m sad/scared/happy/love you mummy, she gets a whole new round of cuddles and kisses. A year ago delay tactics scared me. But now that Miss nearly 4 is SO grown up I can actually see the time when she wont want that anymore is just around the corner (she has already stopped hugging me at preschool pickup). So I am going with it and enjoying , her creative delay tactics, her sense of humor and all those amazing toddler kisses !!!

  13. we entered the game with no routine (note: amateurs) but quickly found that routine equaled sanity and some sleep
    with our second one, the routine came more easily and hence everything was a lot more settled

    at 5 and 3 – they still pull out all the stops at bedtime – fast forward to teenage years and the buggers will only be sleeping!

  14. Jodi says:

    My 2.5 year old, drags out bed time too…..!!

    Now she is put to bed, and suddenly she says “Mummy poo”, so out of bed, to the change table, change nappy that was only just changed (NO Poo..). Back to bed, she will then ask for some random toy which could be anywhere in the house, once that is found “daddy…” so daddy comes in, says Goodnight. Then she will ask for another random toy or object or there is another phantom “poo”. It used to be so easy, she was always a great sleeper, but now she doesn’t want to go to bed when she should, and will do everything in her power not too. Cheeky!!

  15. Emily says:

    Mine is a Little Miss Routine lover. 2.5 as well, in fact. But yes, I’ve noticed for a while that she’ll slip extras in to drag out the time. The pre-bed singing line-up, for example. The perfect fifth medley – Twinkle, Baa Baa, ABCs. Now she wants new songs. Not INSTEAD – there’ll be hell to pay! – but as well. GAAAH!

  16. Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions says:

    Routine has certainly worked around these parts in regards to sleep. I was terrified for a while of making any changes but as we gradually started to change things as more breastfeeds were dropped she adapted pretty quickly, which has been a more than pleasant surprise.

    And while on the one hand I am looking forward to the maturity, I’m dreading the ‘smarts’, because by God, this girl is not only gonna get the smarts, but the smart-arse as well. Every time the cheekiness rears it’s head I hear my mothers voice saying “Karma, have you met Kylie?”.

  17. Tam says:

    Routines are the bomb. Seriously. They are no match for 2.5 year olds though. Pretty sure once #3 gets there I’m going to go completely insane.

  18. Danya Banya says:

    We were routine free for the first 11 months. JJ slept anywhere, as long as she was touching us. To a lot of people this would be a nightmare, but we ran with it, having her in the carrier for a lot of the time. Then at 11 months, a switch flipped, and she needed a routine, and we’ve needed to be routine Nazis ever since. But now, at 2.5 years, she is starting to stretch and stretch and stretch her bedtimes….

  19. Pingback: Toddler Bureaucracy - Aussie Daddy Bloggers

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