Gently get your life back and create a routine that both you and baby can live with!
After our little Squishy Face was born in August, my carefully planned routines took a nosedive off a cliff and took my sanity along with it. That was also when I realized that I may have been harboring some deeply hidden control freak tendencies. Those first few weeks were a combination of sheer amazing and horrendous that only a new mom can understand. But then, little by little, it got better. I noticed he had a pattern even if the times weren’t the same, he followed a predictable pattern of eat, diaper, sleep, diaper, eat, diaper, play. I found that if I timed things right, I could do what needed to be done and use his natural patterns to help me.
At around 4 and a half months, we decided to put our little boy, who ate and slept on demand, had never slept in his crib and napped wherever he happened to be playing at the moment, on a schedule. We didn’t use cry it out, or baby wise, or any method of “training”. We simply came up with a schedule based on research of the sleep and feeding requirements of his age, that worked for our hours and implemented it. If he cried for a bottle before his “time” for a bottle, we tried to distract him, if it didn’t work- we fed him the bottle and adjusted the schedule for the rest of the day. Within a week, he adjusted beautifully to the schedule and was asleep during naps within 10 minutes, rarely cried for a bottle, and sleeps through the night with only one wake up. Since he’s in day care for 6 hours, 3-4 days per week, the schedule during those hours aren’t as easy to adjust to since they aren’t constantly reinforced but it’s clearly going in the right direction.
I was able to fit my daily chores around his schedule and then both of us can get used to our routine. Since my days off rotate constantly, it was important to me that the routine didn’t change with whether I was working or not. When I’m off, I keep Michael home with me, but the times and activities are the same regardless of whether I’m off.
This is an example of the schedule that works for us: Use 0 as whatever time you normally wake up, then add the hours as shown. For example, if you wake up at 6am- then 0 is 6am: Wake up and Get Ready. 1.5 hrs: Nap 1.5 Hours and Chores is 7:30am (1.5 hours after your wake up time). 3hrs: Feeding is 9am (3 hours after wake up time).
0 hours: Wake Up and Get Ready
Squishy wakes up, gets changed and gets a 6 oz bottle. I switch the laundry while he watches the mobile, and put those clothes away. I give him a bath and dress him. He comes into the bathroom with me while I bathe, dress, and get ready for the day. We keep a few toys next to the bathtub in the master bath and I lay him on the fluffy rug in there.
1:30 Hours: Nap 1.5 Hours; Chores
I bring Squishy down, change his diaper, and lay him in the pack and play with the music on and the lights off for a 1.5 hour nap. I make breakfast and eat. I make boxed lunches for Jon and I (since Jon goes in early and I work in the afternoon, I make Jon’s lunch now for tomorrow), I make dinner (which I’ll eat at 12pm before work, and Jon will eat tonight) and put it in the fridge. I straighten up the middle level of the house (which is my level, Jon handles the top and bottom levels), Switch the laundry and put away (usually his cloth diapers for this load). I clean the kitty litter box every day (which makes it a really easy chore! If I miss just two days, it’s my least favorite chore). If it’s scheduled, I make a menu plan for the week and leave Jon the list to take to the grocery store). I’m usually done with my chores right around 10:30am. Depending on my mood, I’ll either relax on the couch and read , or I’ll “pick a spot” and spend ten minutes decorating, organizing, or cleaning a random spot in the house.
3 hours: Feeding – Baby Food and 6 oz bottle
I grab his baby food from the fridge, and heat it for about 4 seconds. I make his bottle and warm it. I wake him up and talk to him/ play with him for a few minutes (so I’m not shoveling apples into a sleepy groggy baby), then sit him in the bumbo and feed him as much baby food as he wants. Then he switches to the bottle and finishes eating. I clean him up (and more often than not- clean me up), change his diaper, and pack the bottles and diapers up for day care (If I’m working that day). If I’m working, Michael gets dropped off at day care, I stop by the gym on my way home and run through my 20 minute work out, come home and eat my “dinner” at lunch. Then I go get ready for work.
If I’m off that day, then I bundle up Squishy and put him in the stroller, we head out running (well as close to running as I’ve gotten post baby-maybe a fast yet awkward jog). If I get bored with my neighborhood (this frequently happens), then I take him to the mansion communities, or the parks, or outdoor shopping centers. When we get back, We do baby yoga (instructions can be found here) or I do exercises and then help him mimic me. Then we alternate working on new skills and “relaxed play”. I’ll interact with him, read him books, or help him practice rolling over or sitting up for a few minutes, then let him lay and chew on his hand for a while (his favorite!), or bounce in his bouncer. While he’s doing relaxed play, I can take a few minutes and tackle anything extra I need to get done (or go back to reading on the couch!) The key to a happy routine to me is to expect his naps to be “my time” and awake time to be “his time”. If I happen to have a few minutes to get something done during “his time”, then great!, but I make sure that anything that needs to be done is done during nap times.
6 hours: Nap- 1.5 Hours
If I’m off, than I change him, and put him down in the pack and play with the music on and the lights off. I do my fly lady mission for the day (15 minutes), spend about 30 minutes on my weekly chores (cleaning out the fridge, and cleaning the bathrooms), then I read, blog, work on craft projects, anything I want (lately I bake massive amounts of yeast bread).
7.5 hours: Feeding- 6oz bottle and Errands
If I’m off, then I feed him 6 oz, change his diaper, and tackle any errands we have (normally the library or the post office since Jon’s been doing the grocery shopping lately), as he gets older and more alert, I’d like to start going to locals sights- butterfly gardens, and battlefields, petting zoos etc. I figure there’s more for him to see in this world than his pack and play and my living room J. Lately I’ve been using this time to read up on child development and research.
10 hours: Nap- 1 Hour
If I’m off, I change him, and put him down for a nap in pack and play for an hour. We eat dinner, then I lay on the couch and do nothing. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. If I get really motivated, then I might play on pinterest for the hour.
11 hours: Feeding- 6 oz bottle and quiet play.
If I’m off, I feed him a 6 oz bottle, change his diaper and cuddle him, or read him a book, or Jon will play the guitar for him. I try not to get him involved in anything super rambunctious since we’re approaching bed time.
12.5 hours: Bedtime and Laundry
I change his diaper, put him in his warm Pj’s, and put him in his crib for bed. I turn on the sleep sheep to “Rain” and turn the lights off. I go and wash his cloth diapers for the day, which takes about ten minutes. By the time I come back in to check on him he’s usually passed out. I cover him with a thin blanket and go hang out with my awesome husband.
15 hours: Dream Feed
If he has a diaper rash, we wake him up, change him, and feed him a 6 oz bottle. If he doesn’t have diaper rash, we “dream feed him”, which means we leave him in the crib asleep with the lights off and we carefully put the nipple of the bottle near his mouth. He sucks in the nipple and drinks naturally without waking up. We have him drink anywhere from 4 to 6 oz and then sneak back out.
16 hours: Our Bedtime
19 hours: Night Feed
He usually wakes up between 3am and 6 am hungry. On the advice from the pediatrician, we feed him if I have to work the next day, so I can be back in bed in 30 minutes. If I’m off the next day, I cuddle him, or rock him, and then put him back to bed, he may be up in another hour to get a bottle, but it helps in the eventual goal of sleeping through the night without waking. When I first get up to feed him, I switch the diapers in the laundry so they are drying. When he’s had his bottle and I’ve changed him and put him back down, I can take the diapers out and leave them to be folded in the am.