08 June 2011

The Hat Routine

Although I am Papi to one under 2 toddler, I also have two more step-children living in the house with me. When I met them, they were ages 5 and 11, well beyond the toddler years and set in beginning routines. Fast forward 8 years and we add a baby to the mix. We are now a family of five and it is chaos. It's a whole different ballgame. Little did I know then exactly how much kids, teens, and adults need routine in their lives.

Now, more than ever, I am convinced that as human beings, we function better with routines. If you are sync with your circadian rhythms you are more likely to perform at your body's best. If you create a morning routine, you are less likely to head out of the door without something important like laptop, keys, or kids. If you create an evening routine you close down your day with less chaos and move gently into the quiet stages of sleep. Living with a toddler, I am starting to notice that although the afore mentioned routines are important, there are a few routines that are often overlooked, but equally as important.

1. Eat something in the morning.
Last Sunday our power went off at 8am. That is also about the time the household was starting to wake. Since it was going to be over 90 degrees that day, we decided no one was allowed to open the refrigerator or freezer doors. That left us with the limited options of toast and peanut butter for breakfast or going out to eat. We decided to treat ourselves to breakfast.

Everyone understood that decision except the baby. All she knew was that in the mornings she went downstairs, got her diaper changed, got on clothes, and ate breakfast. The first three items were accomplished but we were leaving the house for the last option. That decision, impossible to convey to a 21 month old, was enough to bring on the tears. She soon realized that she wasn't going to get her "fooof" as usual. No matter how many times she ran into the kitchen, or how many times she signed the word food, she wasn't going to get breakfast.

Finally, when she couldn't take the news any longer, she allowed us to pick her up, screaming and kicking, and get her loaded into her car seat. It was not until we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant that she gave her first happy sound...she recognized this as a place where she could get some "foooof." All was going to be OK because she was going to be getting her breakfast. She may be less than two years old, but she knows that a body needs food after a good night's sleep!

2. Everything goes back to its original location.
Although the older kids are s-l-o-w-l-y catching on to the "carry your own weight around the house" way of thinking, the baby seems to have it mastered. One of her first words was "back" (although it was pronounced more like "baaa".) It seems that when she would get something, such as clean clothes from the laundry basket, or recycling from the container in the kitchen, or the DVD her brother left sitting within arm's reach, our first response was, "Thank you. Please put it back." She would echo "Baaa" and then promptly return it to the spot from whence it came.

We then started noticing that when she got toys out (her babies, musical instruments, or cars) she would often finish playing with them by announcing "Baaa" and putting them back in their original location. We thought perhaps it was a fluke, an obsession with the work "back", but she still continues this routine. When she is done with something, even if it isn't something she is supposed to be playing with, it goes "Baaa" to its original location. To date, the only lost items we have noticed are things that don't really have a home...her sister's TV remote, her brother's book, someone's notebook, etc. If everything in the house has a "home," then it can be returned to that spot and will be easy to find the next time you need it.

3. If you are going outside, wear a hat.
The little one has a few things working against her when it comes to sunshine...she is fair skinned, she has really thin baby fine hair, her hair is red, and she hates the sun to shine in her eyes. From day 1, any time she was outside, she had a hat on. One of her hospital hats is on my dresser from her birth day. She has pilot caps, floppy hats, winter hats, ball caps, or you-name-it hats. She has a hat for every occasion and every season.

Last night she and mom headed out for an evening walk, and the minute she felt the sun hit her head (it was 7pm so it wasn't intense sun), she started touching her head saying "Haaaa" "Haaaaa!" She turned around and headed back up the block to the house. She knew that she couldn't be outside in the sun without a hat. She came in, got a hat, and went back out for the second attempt at an evening walk.

In this day and age, with the chemicals in the air, the chemicals in our foods, the potential damage to the atmosphere, and other yet-discovered damaging or harmful elements/insects/chemicals, it is important to take care of ourselves when and where we can. If you are going outside, even in the shade, take precautions. Wear a hat, use sunscreen, drink lots of water, and listen to your body. It only takes a minute or two to walk back inside and get your "haaaa." 

Routines are a good thing. Pay attention this week to some of the routines in your every day activities. Are they routines worth keeping? Did you have a routine you would like to reincorporate into your day? Is there a routine you should develop to make your day a little better for you and your family?