Routine. I’ll be honest – the ‘R’ word is usually enough to send me running. Even when I know that it will change my life for the better, even when I’ve seen positive results, routines don’t tend to last very long in my house. It’s just one of those things.
It actually worked out quite well for us when the twins were born. Kirsty gave up work when I was about six months pregnant and I took a couple of months off when they were born so we were able to work around what seemed natural for them. We slept when they drifted off, usually on top of us, and we watched a LOT of Grey’s Anatomy. That time passed in a haze of perpetual sleepiness, and then I went back to work suddenly the twins who only slept between the hours of three a.m. and ten a.m. weren’t so fun any more.
I’m taking a shorter maternity leave this time and Kirsty has the two little boys to think about during the day and so we’ve started thinking about what we can do to make having two under four easier, particularly with only one parent at home. Last week I, and a couple of other bloggers, was invited to meet the incredible Supernanny, the inimitable Jo Frost, to talk about bedtime routines and ask her our questions about her new #BathBookBed campaign which she is running in collaboration with one of my favourite charities, BookTrust.
We met at Lib-Rary in Covent Garden, probably one of the most gorgeous venues I’ve visited as a blogger. It always lifts my heart a little to me greeted at the door of an event with a mimosa even though on this occasion, being pregnant, I had to decline and request an orange juice instead. I always take note of the food and the fruit salad was delicious and the selection of pastries vast enough that I couldn’t sample them all in the time that we waited for Jo to be ready for us, both a good sign and a shame!
I was super excited to sit next to her at the table as she spoke with us about her advice for maintaining a sensible bedtime routine for children of different ages, and conversed with us directly about our own bedtime issues.
For the past few weeks we’ve been trialling Jo’s Bath, Book, Bed routine with the twins. It’s certainly a more structured routine than they were used to, involving bathtime at a set time, followed by a story or two and then sleep. At first they were rather confused as we’ve always tended to bathe them early in the day and to read to them throughout the day, rather than save these things for bedtime. And I definitely needed some training as when I got involved with this new bedtime I had them hyped up and in hysterics with my overenthusiastic reading – I learnt quite quickly to stop doing the silly voices and to read them something a little more soothing! Interestingly, it didn’t seem to matter whether I was reading something of theirs or mine, so long as the tone of voice was right – Byatt’s ‘Possession’ got them to sleep just as easily as their own little stories.
We did notice that the time that they spent awake in their cots definitely diminished, presumably as they were receiving ‘sleep’ cues a lot sooner once they recognised the routine. They’re not the sort to lay in bed and cry but rather to babble at each other, but it’s not nice to imagine them bored and so we were glad when we poked our heads around the door and saw two silent, sleeping babies.
I think that with the new girls coming in a matter of weeks, it could be helpful to have an established routine for the big brothers that we can work around and so that we know what is what in the evening. I’m not sure how Kirsty is going to manage bathing two toddlers whilst wrangling two small babies but I’m sure that somehow, she will figure it out!
BookTrust are asking parents to sign up to their ’14 days to better sleep’ trial if they’re not already in the Bath Book Bed routine. If you would be interested in learning more about establishing a bedtime routine this would be an excellent resource and I would love to hear how you got along.