Ask the Moms, part 11 – schedules and visitors

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Categories Ask the Moms, Family, Sleep

A quick post today for Ashley, who asked a related question to last week’s post on scheduling.  Once you’ve decided to be the schedule nut, how do you get family and friends on board? Especially when guests are visiting from out of town, or when you’re a guest in someone else’s home. A question near and dear to my heart, with my mom visiting us this week (hence the short post)!

Whether you’re the visitor or the visited, family and friends who aren’t as lucky as you are to spend every waking moment with your children are desperate to get their hands on them.  Hold them, pass them around, sing silly songs, and make ridiculous comments. Sleeping just gets in the way of play time! As the mom who knows her kids best, it can sometimes be a struggle to decide where to draw the lines.

I think the first thing you need to ask is how sensitive to schedule changes are your kids, and how do they deal with new situations.  If you have kids who are really cranky if their morning nap is less than 90 minutes long, or who get easily overwhelmed with a lot of new faces, then it’s probably worth it to step in and be a somewhat forceful regulator.  If you know that your overstimulated child is going to completely lose it if she doesn’t get a break, then insist on what needs to be done, much to the dismay of your visiting aunts.  If, on the other hand, your kids are a little more go-with-the-flow and seem to be having a good time, then maybe let go of the fact that you usually limit a certain activity to 15 minutes and let grandma have a good time.

The other thing you need to consider is your own family dynamics.  Is an overtired toddler easier to deal with than your petulant sister-in-law? Maybe you just decide it’s more worth it to keep a little bit of peace with the extended family and let your kid sleep in the car on the way home.  On the other hand, are you just finding it a little difficult to step out of the role of “daughter” and stand up to your mom when she’s in town? Time to step into your mama bear shoes and be assertive, even if it means giving orders instructions to your own mother, and insisting they be followed.

Another tip that can help is to set up expectations before the visit.  If your kids have a particular schedule that you think needs to be adhered to, start mentioning it (don’t overdo it, but bring it up) well in advance.  That way you aren’t suddenly snatching your child away for an unexpected nap, right when everyone was having a good time.  Talk about activities you’ll be doing together, and work on planning it around the naps.  Better to deal with any of this ahead of time, instead of arguing about dinner time when you arrive.

Really, we all have to find a balance between two competing needs.  The first is to pick your battles.  If you’re on vacation, sometimes schedules get messed up.  It happens.  If your kids go to bed an hour later every now and then, sure, maybe there will be some adjusting that needs to be done when you get back home, but everyone will be just fine.  While predictability is important, so is flexibility.  On the other hand, remember that, you’re the mommy and you say so.  If you’ve had trouble standing up for yourself in the past, it’s time to put that behind you.  Be firm on what your kids need, and if it’s something that cannot be compromised, then don’t compromise.

Alright, my mom is back from her coffee run and the kids are ready to get up from their nap.  Good luck, out there!

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2 thoughts on “Ask the Moms, part 11 – schedules and visitors”

  1. I learned this lesson by mistake – once the non-compliant parties see the effects of messing with your children’s schedule, they’ll buy into the whole idea! At my daughters’ first birthday party, cake cutting was initiated by my mother just around naptime. I went ahead with our schedule and put the girls down for their nap, much to my mother and mother-in-law’s dismay. My MIL chose to wake both girls (who had fallen asleep immediately) and bring them back to the party. After the crying and misery that followed, both Grandmas have been respectful of our schedules!

  2. I think my family is pretty respectful of our schedule and situation, but I am definitely more flexible if they are going to be around to help with the extra crankiness that results when the schedule changes!

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