Why Disruptions to Routine Are Actually Good

Disruptions to the routine can be very scary, but often times they are necessary and even good for your routine. Find tips for getting through them here.

Baby happily sitting in the stroller

Disruptions to your routine are good.

Yep, you read that right.

I would even say that disruptions to your routine are necessary.

Now, I am not saying to disrupt every nap or even to disrupt your routine every day, but I think disruptions on occasion are good for the whole family.

Why Disruptions to Routine are Good

Living a consistent schedule or routine can get to be quite monotonous.

Mom will go crazy if she never leaves the house. Older siblings will get restless if they never leave the house.

Children will learn to bounce back from disruptions, and sometimes disruptions will help reset things to be back in the proper order.

Common Disruptions to Routine and How to Handle Them

What are some of the ways we get disrupted in life? And how do we deal with them? Here it is.


For my husband and me, church is very important.

Our church is three hours long, so even though it is a mere five minute drive from our house at most, it is always a disruption.

I have a post entirely dedicated to church and how we deal with the disruptions it brings.

For the purposes of this post, know that we go each week. Know that it is over one of McKenna’s naps and she doesn’t sleep at church. And know that it is over Kaitlyn’s entire afternoon nap.

It isn’t an easy thing, but it is important to us so we go each week.

Read: How To Expertly Manage Disruptions to Your Baby Routine


Sometimes, naps will get disrupted due to playdates with friends or visits to the park with friends.

My exact tolerance for disruptions caused by this varies based on age and ability of the child.

We have a large group of friends that go to the park weekly when the weather is nice. Here is how we have handled it.

When Brayden was a pre-toddler (ages 12-18 months), he couldn’t handle late naps. He needed his naps on time. The latest we would ever be for naps due to these activities was 30 minutes–and that is if I was being lenient and he was being good.

When Brayden was a two year old and Kaitlyn was a baby, he could handle a bit more disruption, but not a lot.

We would sometimes stay out until 2. I would try to get Kaitlyn to sleep at the park for a nap.

If Kaitlyn was having a rough day, we wouldn’t go. We also didn’t necessarily go every week. As she got older but was still a baby, we went less often because she just wouldn’t sleep unless she was in bed.

When Brayden was three and Kaitlyn was a pre-toddler, we could stay longer. Brayden could handle later naps and so could Kaitlyn. We would do 2-2:30.

When McKenna was a newborn, we handled things similarly to when Kaitlyn was a baby. McKenna would fall asleep easier at the park and for longer than Kaitlyn did.

This year, McKenna will be pre-toddler age. She still takes 2 naps and her second nap doesn’t start until 2:30. I imagine this year we will stay until 2-3.

The reason disruptions are good for your routine pinnable image


I think for many families, a lot of structure goes out the window when Dad is home.

It is that way for us. When Dad is home, we have meals on time. Naps tend to start around the same time-ish.

But things like independent playtime and such are typically non-existent unless Dad is really busy with something.


By holiday I am meaning when Dad is home for an extended period, which for us happens around holidays.

For us, holidays are basically one long weekend. If behavior starts to get bad, I re-institute independent play, but otherwise, we just relax and don’t worry about it.


I try to keep naps as consistent as possible on vacations. I find when I do, the children last a lot longer in a happier state. But we allow flex as the child is able to handle.

I also try to keep meals as consistent to our typical schedule as possible.


You might have some random visitors or a random lunch that lasts longer than expected.

I remember one time when McKenna was 8 months old. We had lunch with family in town, then went shopping. She ended up being three hours late for a meal! She had been fine and happy the whole time.

It is the only time in her first year she was more than 30 minutes late, but she survived just fine and wasn’t fussy about it in the least.

Factors To Consider with Disruptions

No matter the disruption, there are factors to consider as you encounter them:

  • Ability of Child: Some children handle disruptions better than others. Brayden and Kaitlyn didn’t (and don’t) do well if a meal is late. Brayden couldn’t have late naps or bedtime. Kaitlyn can and could. McKenna can and could. Take the abilities of your children into consideration as you work around disruptions. More touchy children like Brayden are harder to work around, and you basically just have to “suck it up” and deal with that. It won’t last forever.
  • Frequency: When dealing with a disruption, consider the frequency of it. There are routine, weekly disruption that you need to learn to just work around. If a child will be disrupted Sunday for church, it is probably best to make Saturday and Monday as consistent as possible. I don’t make appointments or anything on Mondays. I make sure sleep is full on Saturdays.
  • Needs of Family: The whole family needs to get out sometimes. Getting out into the world and visiting places and people just rejuvenates your psyche. It makes remaining consistent easier.


If you have any questions about disruptions that you encounter, please feel free to ask away! Don’t be afraid of disruptions. Yes, you want to establish consistency, but once you do, you can all handle disruptions. You will all benefit from it! Be sure to look through the related posts below.


19 thoughts on “Why Disruptions to Routine Are Actually Good”

  1. This is a great post. For the longest time I stressed every time I had to deviate from our schedule. I was afraid that if one nap was late he wouldn't sleep as well and then he'd be more tired in the evening and have a harder time going to sleep which would result in an early wake time in the morning etc… I was driving myself crazy! It wasn't until I finally allowed myself to relax that I started enjoying disruptions and also realizing that as long as most days are consistent it won't take long to get back on track after a disruption. So thanks for the good reminder!

  2. Thank you so much for this post. Just today I had my 6 month old out too long during the day because we had an Easter picnic with some friends. The rest of the day was a total disaster for him as he had one continual meltdown, but I really needed to get out and socialize with friends. I feel guilty when I do things like this, but this post helped remind me that it is okay. Thank you!

  3. HELP! Our daughter is 10 months old and is still not on a 4-hour schedule. I'm wondering if it's partly due to not giving her a consistent dream feed early on. She still seems to need that 5th feeding. What do you suggest? I wish I would have found your blog sooner because the book can only help so much.Another thing…we traveled a lot with her early on and got into a bad habit of feeding her once in the middle of the night (she's BF) and just dropped that about a week 1/2 ago. (this is where I believe she was getting that 5th feeding) because her schedule before this was fine. Thanks!Jessica

  4. We're having a hard time with going to church. Our son is 16 months old and his schedule is as follows…Also, he is in daycare part-time, so it follows his schedule there also…7am wake time/breakfast10:30am lunch11a-2p nap (3 hours)2pm-snack5:30-6p dinner8-8:15p bedtimeOur problem is church on sundays. We can make it to sunday school which is 9-10:30, but he is falling asleep in the car on the way home. He usually gets tired at 10:30a and can't make it even to 11am for his nap on most days (unless he has to at daycare). Anyway, our main service is 10:30-12 and we used to go to lunch with friends also, which is completely out of the question. The nursery room at the church is not conducive to napping either for his age. I don't know how we will EVER get back into church again! Oh, and I'm pregnant again, so maybe when he can last until 1:00…I will have another one and start all over again. Any advice??My son seems alot like your Brayden with not being able to shift naps and bedttime much more than 30 min. Any help is appreciated.ThanksAmanda;)

  5. We have problems with church as well. My son is 9 months and usually naps 9:15/9:25-11:00/11:15. We're at church from approx. 8-11. Napping is out of the question, and by 9:30 he's a wreck. By the time we get home and I feed him at 11, he's exhausted, and his p.m. nap (1-3) is not usually good. Any suggestions on how to make this easier? Our church has 2 services, so we could do 9:45-12ish….which would then include a normal feeding time….and I could maybe try to give him a shorter nap before we leave (wake him up 30 min. earlier for the day?) Any input would be great! Thanks!Jessie

  6. Thanks so much for this post! I tend to feel overwhelmed thinking of getting off schedule, but it's good to be reminded that it's okay and even needed sometimes!

  7. Our church service is 10-12.30. My daughter, now 11 months, usually sleeps around 9.30-11.00. I've found that she does fine if I put her down for a shorter nap right before we go to church. Then we just have to feed her lunch during the service, but she never needs to nap. Just a suggestion for others! However, I'm pregnant with my second baby due in Oct., and I'm worrying about not getting out as much because of the little baby's need for naps. Is there any way to help keep babies satisfied with sleeping in the buggy and not wake up?! My oldest doesn't ever sleep in the buggy anymore, but it would be great if she could…

  8. Jessica, If she still needs a fifth feeding, then that is fine. But I would also wonder how her solids intake is? It sounds like it was more of a situation of not being consistently home in bed and just needing to get used to that. I would suggest you dedicate two weeks to staying home and getting her on track. Then she will have a place to return to when she gets off. You can only get back on schedule if you were on it in the first place. There is a post titled "Getting a consistent schedule"Also, label "flexibility" and "disruptions" will give you more guidance.

  9. Amanda and Jessie, I have an extensive post on church. It is under the label "church" I suggest you check that out 🙂

  10. Rebecca, Really, no. There are things you can do to help the younger baby. You can swaddle and try to keep things as close to normal as possible, but some babies just won't sleep while out and about, and others will.Most, even if they sleep while out and about, won't take the full nap.It is a balanacing act of respecting baby's needs for sleep but also the older child's need for getting out. Another idea for younger babies is a sling. I used that a lot with McKenna.

  11. this is a great post although i am not sure i can take it to heart (yet). like janelle i still feel incredibly anxious when i deviate from my DD's schedule. it seems no reason seems good enough, probably because we seem to be having more trouble with her taking good naps than we do 'smoother' times, despite her mostly staying home all week, other than church. *sigh*valerie, i wonder if you would describe how you handled the distruption of wednesday night church? i read on another post of yours how you work with the teen girls? my DH teaches younger youth group at our church, which is something we did together prior to my DD's birth and i envisioned us bringing her along, but it is from 6:30-8 and then we'd usually hang around a bit longer, talking to friends and parents. well now i feel that's completely out of the question, since my DD's bedtime is 630 -7p and it is clear to me that she needs 12 hrs of sleep most nights. i havent gone in a long time and i'd like to think i could return at some point but not sure how.thanks,summer

  12. Thank you for your advice! 🙂 So, she ended up with an ear infection last week and that threw us off a bit because we were working on getting her on a schedule (didn't go anywhere but church for 2 weeks straight). 🙁 So, now that's she's feeling better this was her schedule when I gave her that 5th feeding (dreamfeed)….is the dreamfeed where you suggest that 5th feeding?5:45-nurse (not sure why she woke up here) back to sleep7:30-wake, nurse solids9:40-nap10:20-wake11:30-nurse, solids1:30-nurse2:00-nap3:25-wake (kept in crib til time to eat)4:00-nurse, solids5:45-fingerfoods with us7:15-nurse, story, prayers, bedI dropped the dreamfeed this night and she woke up at 2:30 starving…I finally went in at 3:30 and nursed her (she was starving)So, I'm wondering…does she need a combo schedule (with out the dreamfeed) first before going to 4 hours or should I just push her to 4 hours? Today I've been doing 31/2, 3, we'll see. Thanks,Jessica

  13. Summer, we had my parents come watch the children.With a bedtime conflicting with the time of the youth group, I would find someone to watch your daughter. You could put her to bed, then go over. It would be low-impact, and if it is something you are doing as volunteers, I would bet you could get someone to volunteer from church to watch her. We had lots of people offer to watch our kids for us.

  14. Jessica, since she needs the dreamfeed, I wouldn't extend the day schedule yet. I would keep the same number of feedings in the day until she doesn't need to eat as much. And yes, the dreamfeed would be that fifth feeding on a four hour schedule. But on a 3 hour schedule, the DF would be your sixth (which is fine if that is what she needs)

  15. Hi,I have read through all the disruption posts, and have done babywise with all three of my children. The youngest is just now three months, and we have a major nap distruptor…dirty diapers! He will wake up any time during a nap with a dirty diaper, and obviously I will change him. However, usually he has had enough of a nap that he can't fall back asleep. I have tried letting him CIO but again, the half-nap energized him a little too much.I end up putting him in his swing to finish the nap a lot more that I'd like to. He has been a great sleeper from day one, but this interrupted nap thing is starting to mess with his sleep, and my head! Any ideas on how to deal with this?Love your blog, and use it all the time! Thanks for doing it!

  16. Mish,If you are breastfeeding, I would keep a food log to see if something you eat causes it. There are things you can do if baby is on solids. Otherwise I would just do the swing thing. He is young and I don't think it will last too long or cause lasting damage.good luck!


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