The family I grew up in was not very routine oriented. My husband's, however, was. He introduced me to the concept. Although it took some time for me to adjust, 3 children later, I LOVE routines! I think of this fact so many times throughout the day. My children absolutely thrive on their routine. Because I am cursed/blessed (depending on how much sleep I had the night before) with early risers, I have trained my 2 and 3 year old to stay in their rooms until 7 a.m. They are allowed to come out and go potty (M will get me for help if need be), but otherwise, they just play quietly. Let me tell you, there are times that extra hour or so can be a real blessing! After breakfast, M will often go get the Bible for our morning Bible lesson. JR loves to say his part of the prayer afterwards, and I rarely have to remind him. Skip ahead to naptime. They eat their lunch, and when instructed, they head upstairs, go into their rooms, sometimes play awhile, and put themselves to sleep. JR is getting to where he doesn't sleep much, so he may just hang out and have "quiet time" in his room. He has learned to read a digital clock and will come out at the appropriate time. Same with bedtime. We all head upstairs, brush teeth, go potty, change into PJs, read a book, get a drink, say prayers, and go to sleep. Amazingly, even 5 month old A has figured out his bed is place to rest. It is as though he breathes a sigh of relief as I lay him down for his naps (the fact that he is a big sleeper helps!)
I am not saying we don't have our occasional challenges, but typically, challenges are due to being off schedule. Even the occasional nightmare rarely results is us as parents having to go soothe a child, as they will typically cry out, wake up, realize they are in the safety of their bed, and fall right back to sleep. 3 years ago, you would have never convinced me that a strong-willed 2 year old could put herself to bed with only some basic direction. I often just sit back and watch my children, and am amazed at what they are capable of at such a young age. I am convinced we do not give children enough credit!