It’s a subject which seems to divide parents. Some are truly regimented from birth and adhere to schedules found in popular books. Others find their days set according to the baby (then child)’s inner timetable, and their lives fit in around the baby. Each parent to their own. Whatever works for you in this parenting journey, you should go with.
I read the books about routine. I knew I wanted Bubba to have a routine from early on, not the least because I knew that I had to go back to work when she was six months old. However, the thought of adhering my tiny 2.5kg (5.5lb) baby to such a regimented timetable from the day she arrived on earth and the first few weeks at home - when we were getting to know each other and she was getting used to the world - is not something that appealed to me.
Instead I cut myself some slack. I gave myself some time. I focused very closely on her daily rhythms and by around the three month mark we had hit our stride and a pretty good routine.
With the exception of nights when her reflux was really bad, she slept through the night from around 10 weeks. By through the night I mean from her 10/10:30pm feed until her 5/5:30am feed. And when I dropped her late night feed (which I knew she was ready for mostly because I slept through it one night and she didn’t wake me up!) she slept right through the night. Other than when she’s been unwell, she has slept through the night ever since.
I have a dear friend I’ve known for too many years to count to thank for my early view of the positive impacts of structure and routine. Her first baby turns 16 this year and I watched her - as a single mother for the first few years of his life - provide him with structure, routine, time, being in the moment with him and lots of LOVE. Like me, she didn’t see much of the outside world in the evenings for the first few years. It seems a small sacrifice to have the lovely teenager he is today. She remarried and now has two beautiful daughters who are equally lucky. Thanks for being such a great role model Rachel!
Bubba’s bed time routine has always been the same. Her last feed (then bottle) or time spent before sleep has always been quiet time on mumma’s bed with the puppies close by. We sing quiet songs, tell stories, read books, cuddle the puppies and each other. Then she goes to bed.
What has her routine as a baby got to do with the two year old she is now?
Yes, I may have ‘missed out’ on a lot of social engagements and what’s happening in the big wide world after 6pm over the past two years. But no, I haven’t missed it. Because I’ve been doing something much more important. I’ve been setting my Love Bug up with structure and routine. It came naturally to us early on, and does to this day. It doesn’t feel forced and there is no drama around bedtime in our home.
Last night my sister’s work had a family picnic in the evening. Of course we went to it, but this meant that my Bubba who is usually peacefully asleep by 7:15pm didn’t get home until a little after 8 and wasn’t in bed until 8:30pm.
While we were driving home she said to me mumma, bubba sleepy. Of course you are Bubba. I said we’d be home soon and that she could have her bottle and put her pyjamas on and go to bed. Yay home, Bella Bear Bear cuggles.
She knows the routine!