Adoptive parenting 101: Stick to a routine

June 2, 2013 8 Comments
adoptive parenting child

Photo by Pedro Klien. Click on image to see full options.

Adoptive parenting can seem easy when things are going well. A happy child, and happy parents means, well, everyone is happy.

There is a reason however that everyone is happy. The effort that we as parents have put in, needs to be maintianed. If however, that adoptive parenting effort stops, it could come back to bite you.

We learned a hard lesson of sticking to a routine.

It was not so much lack of effort as it was complacency, and circumstance – to a greater or lesser extent anyway.

On our first ‘sleep away’ with the wee man we paid a price for being too fluid with his routine on the return journey.

A business trip south by my wife was an opportunity for the boy and I to hitch a ride, stay in the same hotel, and visit family whilst we were there.

We also wanted to ‘test the boy out’ away from home and to get him used to being away.

A mad and frantic rush at the last minute meant our packing was somewhat light, and we forgot the boy’s bedding. We put our faith in the hotel providing something sufficient, and hoped it would not upset the wee man.

It didn’t.

The first day was great, the journey was fine, and timed very well (regarding nap time and lunch time). When we arrived at the hotel, and unfazed by the new surroundings, the boy’s ample curiosity meant he was more excited than anything else.

Couple that with a swim in the hotel pool, and he was thoroughly exhausted. Bed time was a breeze. He had his milk and went out like a light, not waking up once.

Adoptive Parenting means not letting your guard down

I had not made any solid plans for the next day, save for meeting my Auntie and Uncle. My wife was working, and so I was charged with entertaining the boy.

Unfortunately he was buggy-bound for most of the day, and this does not put him in the best of moods. His face was a picture of bewilderment:

“I was born with two legs dad, why am I not using them?”

He became more agitated, and possibly a little confused as to why we had not returned home.

Unlike the journey south, our drive back home was littered with traffic problems, and was ill-timed in respect to his nap and dinner. He missed dinner, and slept for far too long, much too late in the day.

We arrived home at about his bedtime, and that is when the problems really started.

He wasn’t ready for bed, but he was very unsettled. I tried a number of different ways to get him down, which upset him even more.

As my patience wore thin, his obvious tiredness, but remaining anxiety, worsened.

My wife had already gone to bed at the start of what was a horrendous week of cold for her, by 11.30pm, we were all awake, tired, upset and struggling.

Through sheer exhaustion, the boy eventually slept, I did not.

I cursed myself for my inability to deal with the situation, and went over how we should change things for the next time.

As such, I have learned some valuable lessons for when we are staying away:

  • Take familiar items reminding him of home, even if you think he will cope.
  • Plan some activities that will allow him to move and play.
  • Plan your journey times around naps and meals.
  • Stick to a routine as best as you can!

I know the more experienced adoptive parents among you would have told me this before, but it has taken me experiencing it to know why these are so important.

If you have any examples of adoptive parenting lessons, please share them in the comments below, and please don’t forget to sign up for email updates.

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About the Author:

Andrew is an adoptive father, and stay at home dad. Having adopted his son in January 2013, he is a new adoptive parent, but well versed in the adoption process. He is a married, coffee drinker, Xbox addict, and a Marketing graduate. Andrew McDougall is an alias he uses to protect the identity of his adopted son.

Comments (8)

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  1. Vicki says:

    I didn’t understand the importance of routine and familiarity until we did the same as you!
    Now long car journeys are usually evening so they sleep all the way and get lifted straight into a bed or early morning so they don’t sleep too late.
    We usually stay with family. In the early days they laughed at how rigid we were/are with baths/bedtimes/mealtimes etc but they’ve since seen the fallout when we relax!

    Hope your next trip is better x
    Vicki recently posted..Evil cats, chickens in heaven and back to schoolMy Profile

  2. Yes… Its called learning by doing! I think some of what we say about routine is in one ear and out the other, but next trip is my parents, so I am looking forward to them experiencing a hard lesson!!! Thanks for the comment.
    Andrew McDougall recently posted..Adoptive parenting 101: Stick to a routineMy Profile

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