Stopping when it’s time to stop

For years, I’ve tried to figure out how to teach a child a routine. And then I figured this out: I am not very good at following routines myself.


But I’ve realized that just because we don’t follow our routines perfectly, doesn’t mean we throw them out, like a baby with the bath water.

I’ve liked the analogy of a body: we have the rigidity of bones in our skeletal frame, but the flexibility of muscles, tendons, and joints to allow us to bend.

Our days our just like our bodies. In my approximately 7,500 days of being a mother so far, I have never had two days that were exactly the same.


This reminds me of something that I heard once, and in my mind the attribution is to President Boyd K. Packer’s wife, whose name I don’t know. She had 11 children (?), and in my mind the quote went something like this: “The most important thing a woman can learn is flexibility.”

When we specialize in nurturing those around us, we do have to learn to be very flexible.

I would say I am not a naturally flexible person.

I’m learning, but sometimes!

So where is this going?

Tonight, I was working with my youngest to help her get her homework done, lunch made, backpack ready, PJs on, teeth brushed, and a little story before lights are out. And we REALLY need to get our 2 youngest children to bed on time because when they go to bed late, I go to bed late. And they are so challenging to get to bed on time because of our inconsistencies with the bedtime routine. When I go to bed late, I don’t sleep as long, which messes up the entire morning routine.

Talk about high maintenance! Tell me about it! I woke up at 3:20 am last night and didn’t get back to sleep the rest of the night. But today I was too tired to get up and get going after that, so, because I had no commitments in the morning that were critical, once the children were off to school, I went back to bed at 9:45 am and slept (off and on) for 2 hours.

You can’t do that when you have little children at home. That’s why it helps to have children when you are young!

And now to the reason for writing this: it is so important to stop when it is time to stop. I need to help my youngest children to stop whatever they are doing at 7 pm, realistically, if I want them to be in bed at 8 pm. And I need them to be in bed at 8 pm because they need to be up by 6:30 am. 6 am is the ideal, but we have such a hard time getting to bed at 8 pm (9 pm is the norm) that 6:30 pm in the cold and dark seems like such a hurdle!


My new desire is to teach my children to get up on their own at the same time each day. Can I do it? I don’t know. My sleep issues really add a challenge at this stage in my life. BUT, if I can get them up for 6:30 am family scripture study, then we can get self-preparation (“Fab 5”: say prayers, make bed, get dressed, PJs away, read scriptures), breakfast, practicing, and sometimes even a little homework in, even though my very verbal children who could talk away their entire morning struggle to stay on task. Who am I to talk? They are just like me.


If I can help them get up on time on their own, and THEN at night, help them stop when it’s time to stop and simply focus on getting ready for the next day and bedtime, THEN we might make some progress.

It is such a challenge when children are in different ages and stages. But, here we go again. Tackling the routines once more. Motherhood is one eternal round.

And I still need to remember: Flexibility. Flexibility. Flexibility. Say it with me. Breathe now. Flexibility.

Good night. Time for me to stop.

P.S. I read in the Wall Street Journal this week that a recent study claims that teens’ sleeping habits mimic their parents’ sleeping habits. If parents go to bed earlier, the children go to bed earlier. Hmm. Time for bed.


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