The Dreaded Routine

When you first get pregnant and are preparing for your baby to come along, the main thing a lot of parents will preach to you is consistency and routine. You have to keep a routine, you have to be consistent to get your baby on any kind of schedule.

For parents who are successful at that, I tip my hat to you. For those that aren’t, you are my kind of people.

In the beginning, I have to admit I was far too exhausted to come up with any type of routine or stick to it. I was a first-time mom and like most first time parents, the threat of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) meant I spent a lot of the time too afraid to let my daughter sleep on her own. This meant that I let the window of opportunity close to make my daughter’s sleeping routine more independent.

There were a lot of things that went into my thought process at the beginning. Sure, I was told that babies should sleep on their own, even my doctor was pushing me to get her into that crib. Yet, despite what they were all suggesting, I trusted my gut. I knew that women had been delivering babies since the beginning of time, I also knew that cribs were something of the modern age, and before that, a baby slept peacefully nestled in their mother’s bosom. Knowing this told me that co-sleeping wasn’t the bad thing everyone made it out to be.

In truth, parenting has been changed over time to fit the modern woman. I understand the need for these changes, what I don’t understand is how we’ve completely ignored history and tried to shun those who stick to the basics.

Babies need attention. Babies need to be comforted when they are crying. Telling yourself otherwise is denying how we evolve and grow as people. Knowing all this, I put myself at the every demand of my daughter.

There are some parents who will tell me this is a mistake, and they are absolutely allowed to their opinion, just as I am equally allowed to ignore it. If I am only going to have one baby, I want to devote all my time and effort into that baby. I don’t want to take the easy route simply because it’s there. I know co-sleeping has made the transition into a crib or solo-sleeping more difficult, but that is countless more hours I have gotten to spend bonding with my baby. I know solely breastfeeding has made my daughter way fussier when it comes to bottles and cups, but again, that is time I wouldn’t have wanted to spend any other way.

Parenting isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. Whatever decisions you make when raising your child are yours to make.

Routine in the beginning felt impossible, and our routine now may seem non-existent, but it is there. I feel like because it doesn’t fit the typical routine, a lot of people may not see it.

To be perfectly honest, at this point in my daughter’s life, her mood affects a lot of our routine. Why? Because although some people would much rather power through with their routine to make their lives easier, I have opted to let my daughter set the pace. My hope is if I move with the ebb and flow of her moods right now, we will both have a better day.

If she wants to sleep in a little longer, than she sleeps in a little longer. If she is fussy at night and wants to stay up a little longer, we do that too. We don’t always go down for naps at the exact time, we don’t schedule our walks based on the time but rather on whether or not her attitude is telling me she needs one.

My daughter is overly fussy. She is stubborn, and she is relentless. What this means is sticking to schedule and a set routine means that she spends the entire day fighting it. She will constantly whine in moments she is not crying. She will throw her weight around to resist doing anything she doesn’t want to do.

For all those parents reading this and thinking; Well, if you stuck to a schedule, this wouldn’t be a problem I will simply say, you haven’t lived my life. I tried the schedule thing for almost a month and it was a month of the most miserable baby and mommy you would have ever come across. I woke up every morning with this dread to face each day.

I didn’t like being a mother when we were on a routine. I was constantly tired and worn out, I was having anxiety attacks that would bring me to tears, I didn’t have patience for my daughter, and I was just in misery. I kept searching for answers, reading mommy forums and blogs, and was depressed when I couldn’t find anyone I could relate to. Every parent out there seemed to be slapping this beautiful coat of pain on their parenting experience which just left me feeling guilty.

Why wasn’t I enjoying being a mom?

Well, it’s because that routine every parent was standing so solidly behind isn’t for everyone and it’s sad there aren’t more resources out there to tell moms and new parents that it’s absolutely okay if the routine doesn’t work for you.

That calendar that you feel like a failure for not sticking to, throw it away. Be the best parent you can in the way you know-how. Trust what you feel, because chances are, that is the right thing to do.

I do not let my daughter cry it out, and for parents who tell me it’s good for her, I give them the simple answer. It’s not good for me. And in parenting, what is not good for you, is not good for your baby, plain and simple.

That cry my daughter does that so many parents have told me is good for her, fills me with an anxiety I almost can’t push through. It physically brings me to tears, and when I hold my baby after all of that, she can sense it, and it changes her whole mood. That can’t be good for either of us.

When we sleep together, I may get a foot in my mouth, an elbow to the nose, or random pinches and bites when she crawls over to me, but the sleep I actually get is sound because I am not worried about whether or not she is breathing, or okay every single moment of the night. I can feel she is, and that comfort is good for both of us.

There are so many people out there who have been parents, so many with wisdom they are constantly throwing at you thinking they are giving you gold, and almost offended when you don’t take it. What’s important to note is, yes, they have raised kids before, but they have never raised your kid. There is no manual for flawlessly raising a baby because these are living, breathing beings with their own thoughts and emotions. Every tiny body works differently, so that routine you are constantly telling me to get on, won’t work for every one of them.

My advice to new parents is to find your happy place in parenting. Ignore everything they tell you parents should be doing and just feel it out. You will know what is right because what feels right for you is what is right for your baby.

Whatever schedule or lack-there-of works for you is what is going to work for your family. And remember that it is something that will constantly change as your baby grows.

You are a wonderful parent. You know what to do!

 

Living In Chaos: Is It Possible To Have A Routine With A Newborn?

I have been a mother for two months now, and a lot of the blogs and forums I had read to prepare me for being a mother (yes, I read some books too) told me that it would be so difficult in the beginning and that the best way to get through it, was to give up on the thought or idea that you can keep a routine this early in your baby’s life. Is this true? If you had asked me that the first week I had brought my baby home, I would have told you it definitely was. A routine was something single people and people with older children could possibly keep if they planned and had a strong desire, but for a new mom, it was completely out of the question. 

Now, I realize how wrong that was. 

Babies are unpredictable in a way, but if you pay attention to all the little things, you will realize that your baby does have a routine… it just may not be the one you want them to keep. 

My daughter wakes up between 10:00am and noon. She is NOT a morning way in any way shape or form. You may think I am just making that up, but if you spent a morning with me at my house and watched how utterly miserable she was for no other reason than because it was before noon, you would whole-heartedly agree with me. 

My daughter + mornings = one unreasonably cranky baby.

When she gets up I change her out of her sleeping clothes, wipe her down (we usually give her a full bath in the evenings) and then I take her to the rocking chair (glider) or the couch depending on how we feel for a feeding. She eats until she falls back asleep which is anywhere from 30 minutes to and hour. I use the time she is asleep to pump out the remaining breastmilk and do a few things for myself (wash my face, brush my teeth, change my clothes, read through some news highlights, have my cup of decaf coffee). 

She will usually sleep for two-three more hours and be up by 3:00pm. By that time, I layer up, get her layered up and she and I take our fur baby out for a walk. We are usually out for between fifteen-twenty minutes depending on the weather. I really wish it was summer or even fall weather because then I would go out and walk for around an hour, and hour and a half and just spend a lot more time outdoors and less in my apartment. 

When I take her in, I usually check and see if she needs a change because outside I can’t necessarily hear her volcano eruption of poop. Even my daughter’s diaper change has a routine. I lay her down and weather she is wearing socks or a onesie, I make sure her feet are bare when she is getting changed because she loves when I kiss her feet and kissing her feet or nom-noming them is sometimes the only thing I can do to calm her down is she is fussy while she is on the table. 

We play with her feet before and after her change, I usually give her a few cherry kisses on her tummy as well before I get her dressed again. Now, the dressing her after her change is always a bit of an adventure because my daughter hates wearing clothes. If she is being overly fussy, I will just shrug the whole idea of clothes off and let her be free in her diaper and some socks. If my apartment is too cold, I will put her in a cover-all onesie. Her happiness does depend on how much clothes she is wearing so typically if she gets off that table in a onesie we have to do a couple laps in the apartment before we get on the glider and she feeds again. 

Typically after this feeding she will stay awake. We will move to the floor for her tummy time which she also hates. Usually she does about five minutes of that before she is grunting in frustration, bright red, and ready to stop talking to me for the rest of the day. Toby of course accompanies us for tummy time and tries to soothe her with his toys or kisses if she gets too fussy. 

After tummy time, I put her in her swing with the music playing and she will enjoy that until she dozes off (the life of a two month old). She usually dozes for an hour to two hours. At this point… mama takes a nap/break. 

When she wakes up, she eats again. Usually when she is done eating I will realize I haven’t eaten since her first nap and I try to get something in me and I will do my 7 minute exercises (I usually choose three different ones and do that for about 20 minutes). By this time it is between 6:00-6:30.

This means we bundle up again and take Toby out. If we popped out for only a short fifteen minutes earlier, I will typically stay out longer. If we were out longer in the morning, I will typically do the same amount of time or less depending on the weather. 

We come in, same changing routine, she eats some more. Then I usually sit with her and chat with her for a bit. Exercising her legs, playing with her arms, rubbing her tummy if she has excess gas. She will doze off, eat, get changed. Before I know it, it’s 9:00pm and I try and set her back in her swing so I can get dinner started. (I know, my husband works weird hours and usually doesn’t get home from work until around 10:30pm)

My daughter will be wide awake from 9:00pm until around midnight. There is no way around this. She will be cooing, and squawking, and kicking and punching and just keeping herself up and entertained. 

We go into the room and I chat with her some more, telling her stories, singing, and usually after another long feed, she will clock out at 1:21am every morning like it’s shift work. 

In the beginning I thought it was madness and there was no routine to it. I only started to realize there was a routine when I went out for the day with my sister and she was fussy in the morning. I told my sister it was because she usually napped between 1:00-3:00pm and then I wondered to myself if that was true or something I just thought she did. Sure enough, the whole routine started to play out in my mind and I realize there was a routine.

For all those new moms who were hoping to have a baby that goes to bed by 7 or 8 and you could get them up early, feed them and have your breakfast, have your lunch at noon, dinner at 6 and that they would fall into the schedule you had before you had a baby, then you may be feeling like it is chaos, because it isn’t normal. But you aren’t that person anymore, and you have to be open to changing your schedule to suit a new baby, even if that schedule doesn’t work for you. Their routine will change as they grow, and sooner or later it will click into place with what you had planned. 

“What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” This is important to remember. We were spiders before and now we are feeling a little more like flies, because a lot of our planning isn’t up to us anymore. 

And there is nothing wrong with that. 

So you can definitely have a routine, I just can’t promise it will be the one you want. Here in Canada, not living in that work life routine for months on end is fine because of our Maternity leave we have the time to adjust and months to figure it out before we go back to work. For those living in other countries without maternity leave, I definitely understand how frustrating it can be to have a newborn that doesn’t make your transition from pregnancy, to new mom, to working new mom easy as you ride the wave of their schedule. 

I would strongly suggest keeping a journal of their naps, feedings, and diaper changes so it is easier for you to notice these patterns and plan your life around them. When you feel like you are falling into the groove of things, even though you may not be getting much sleep or living the hours you want to live, you will start to feel less anxious, less tired and enjoy being a new mommy. 

Everything in life take times to adjust to. Give yourself that time and try not to rush a change that may end up making life more difficult for you. It’s better to have a baby on a night-owl routine than to have a miserable baby who cries all the time because you are trying to change it. Then no one is getting any sleep. 

Until next time, hang in and keep pretending you know what you’re doing.