We’ve been trying to bust out of the routine, just a little. And not always with success. Blitzen so craves rhythm and ritual.
We have an evening routine. I’ve written about it before. Babysitter retrieves Blitzen from school. This is free time and they do whatever. Blitzen can roll with it mostly because she is usually driving the bus here AND because it is a routine to play it by ear – park, home to play, playdate with friends. Then Andrew and I get home. While we make dinner, she is allowed choice time (which she has intrepeted as ipad time), then we eat as a family. Blitzen and I feed the guinea pigs while Andrew starts the dishes, Blitzen and Andrew do homework together while I finish the dishes. Then, after homework, it is bath time – I am in charge of shower. Followed by choosing the next day’s outfit (me), teeth and meds (Andrew) and what we like to call BTPT. Andrew and Blitzen play something for 15 minutes or so. I read a story while Blitzen has her bedtime snack and then Andrew will put her to bed but I have to give her the last kiss and hug. Andrew stays with her until she falls asleep – she can’t go to sleep alone.
You will note a several of things:
1) We’re probably crazy.
2) All parts of the routine require attention from and interaction with an adult. And the adult is assigned a role – woe to the man or woman who wants to mix it up and feed the guinea pigs for a change or read the story to spice it up!
3) This all takes a really, really, really long time because Blitzen is Blitzen.
Blitzen gets hella mad if we mix up the routine. If we go to a play at school, say, or out to dinner (and she likes these things), when we get home, we must begin the routine and work our way through it almost precisely. Now, I am sure many of you out there think – that child is holding you hostage, she can’t always have her way.
But we’ve really come to believe that it is not about her way. When we deviate from the routine, her anxiety level skyrockets and we have meltdown town. She can even articulate it now. She wants it all to flow precisely the same every night. She recently demanded to know, in a fit of anger, ‘Are you trying to change things? You’ve moved choice twice in a row — choice is before dinner, it is always then, I don’t like it later.’
Within her routine, there is safety and predictability, there is control and comfort. But life doesn’t always work this way. Now we’ve come to the point, more than a year in, where we need to begin to occassionally deviate from the routine — for everyone’s good. Andrew and I need just a little more flexibility and personal free time at home. Blitzen needs to learn, at some point, how to roll with it just a bit more. So, we’ll continue to gently mix it up, I guess and see how it goes.
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