There is so much research that supports this notion that children with conditions like ADHD and Autism need to be kept on a schedule.
They thrive on routines and structure is a crucial component to helping them function at their best.
For our family, bedtime routines have made all of the difference. I learned this by accident when my daughter was around two-months-old. When I got to the point of complete and utter exhaustion, I was desperate to find a way to function because sleeping in two-hour increments felt like riding a never-ending carousel.
As I entered the middle of my maternity leave, I knew I had to get on some kind of schedule when I returned to work. I couldn’t function on four hours of sleep and then traveling all day for work.
I researched and I came across articles talking about the “Bath, bottle, bed” routine. It was simple: every night you give your child a bath (either a quick one or a long relaxing one), put them into their pajamas, feed them the last goodnight bottle and then put them down for bed. Within three days, my daughter was sleeping through the night.
Sometimes she would wake up once for another bottle in the middle of the night but she slept for 10-12 hours around that. It was the most refreshing thing I had experienced since her birth.
Around 7 pm I gave her a bath each night. Even if it was just for two minutes, it had become part of the routine. By 8 pm she was asleep.
This worked because I left for work around 8 am. Daycare trained her to sleep from 12pm-2pm and it carried over at home. For the first two years of her life, we had a sleeping routine that made all of the difference.
Now that she is turning five, our routine has changed a bit. She now stays up until around 9 pm and sleeps until 7 am. Most days she doesn’t nap anymore but sometimes she does. She no longer takes a bath every single day because she knows her routine and is comforted by it.
On a side note… for the first time in her life, I am dealing with a small change in her routine—a bump in our road. She had the flu last week and was sleeping all day for four days straight. She woke up at night and I let her have her iPad to keep her in bed and to stop her from crying. It has been over a week and she still wakes up at night and has been staying up until 11 pm. We are slowly trying to get her back into her regular routine of going to bed by 9 pm and sleeping until 7 pm and sometimes taking a nap during the day. But not in the late afternoon.
We need to get back to our groove.
I’m working on it.