Creating a routine was a process and I was not sure which direction to take. I combined a few parenting philosophies and began using a Parent Led Routine to structure my day. A Parent Led Routine follows the same pattern of events each day but, does not abide to a strict timetable.
Parent Led Schedule vs. Baby Led Routine
While pregnant, I asked everyone what worked best for them in regards to their day to day activities during their time as new moms. Some offered advice on a strict approach and set specific times each day for their tasks. While others bounced around from feeding, napping and playing, with absolutely no structure, allowing the baby to dictate the events of the day. Everyone had beautiful, well-behaved babies so, it was difficult to figure out which parenting method I preferred.
After I did all of the research I could, I decided parent led schedules would work best for us. I would be able to nurse, make the baby nap and get all of my housework done during each perfectly scheduled day. Hah – that went out the windowing shortly after we got home from the hospital.
Controlling the Chaos
I was able to nurse so, creating a feeding schedule was an utter waste of time. Nursing on-demand became my priority and if the baby wasn’t eating, he was napping. If I wasn’t nursing, I was napping. Needless to say, housework became a lower priority for the first few weeks/ months.
Once the newborn phase ended, I wanted to stay on a strict schedule as much as possible. I would get both JR, and myself, frustrated trying to make him take a nap when he truly wasn’t tired or nurse when he wasn’t hungry. So, the schedule would be abandoned and we would just play all day, nurse when he would get cranky and then he would fall asleep in my arms.
Parent Led Routine
I didn’t like the imbalance in our day to day routine. I decided to combine both styles in a hybrid I call a Parent Led Routine. We have a basic routine that we follow each day but, the exact time of day is not important.
After reading a few more points of view, I really liked the EASY routine – Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time (for momma). We repeat this patten 3 times each day. I started to follow this pattern at about 5 months and big changes in his attitude appeared right away. Before, when he was leading the way, he would often get frustrated and fussy. But now, our day moves along so well and we can be both happy and productive.
Another article I read explained the 2-3-4 method. Which states that the babies first nap is two hours after they wake up, their second nap is three hours after they wake up from their second nap and then they will go to bed four hours after they wake from their second nap. JR started to fallow this pattern on his own at around 4 months so, it was an easy way for me to keep track of his sleeping.
Each day varies but, we follow this same routine about 85% of the time. JR will naturally wake on his own around 6:30-7 am each day and we cuddle in bed for a bit before I change his diaper. He will play in his walker while I make breakfast. Once Johnny is off to work, we go out for a walk with Boo Boo. After the walk, little man will be ready for his first nap. I will nurse him and snuggle him until he is fast asleep. Some days I might nap but, mostly I will get the living room, kitchen and play area tidy and ready for play time.
About 1.5 – 2 hours later, we get a fresh diaper, change into his day clothes and eat lunch. After lunch, we will head out of the house for some sort of activity. We might go to the library, dog park, playground, or run any errands. This has helped make his second nap of the day is going so much smoother. I will nurse him to sleep and he will get another 1.5 – 2 hour nap. During that time, I do housework and blog.
Once he wakes up from his second nap, we take the dog for a relaxing walk and then JR eats dinner. I will usually get his dinner ready at around 6 pm. After dinner is bath time, then relaxing time in bed reading, playing with daddy or just crawling around and being super cute. He will start showing sleepy signals and I will turn off the lights and begin nursing him. Once he is sleeping and I get my goodnight kisses, I put him down in his bed. He will stay asleep until, Johnny and I go to sleep and then he will get snuggled up in between us for the night. He wakes occasionally during the night and I will nurse him back to sleep.
Implementing a more flexible routine fits perfectly into our lifestyle. Little man is able to follow his own natural sleep patterns while following a structured routine each day. I understand that this level of flexibility might not work with everyone but, keeping the balance is what is most important. It just makes everyone frustrated and ready to cry when a nap feels forced. Creating a routine that helps provide sleep time cues will make the process feel more relaxed and natural.