Babies do love routines and they can be of great benefit to you, and the rest of the family, as well. They help to comfort the baby, establish sustainable sleeping and feeding patterns and can go a long way to reducing stress and worry about “what was I supposed to be doing now” and remembering just which part of the day you are actually at.
It can all become a blur at some point.
Pick up any parenting book and it will be loaded with information and reasons for establishing daily routines. Some will suggest a more relaxed approach for these early weeks, along the lines of “just go with the flow” and others recommend more rigid regimens that damn you to Hell if you don’t stick to them.
recommendation that sits best with your and your baby / family / personality. How strict to you want to be with your routine, and how are you going to implement it.
Here’s some basic information.
Establishing a routine is not as hard as perceived. The first 6 weeks of your baby’s life, give or take 18 months, your baby will eat and sleep. Oh, and poo a lot. And probably cry a fair but too. But you really only need to worry about the eating –sleeping thing for your routine.
They are likely to feed approximately every 4 hours – yes, that includes overnight. It is unlikely that your baby will be “sleeping through” (roughly translated as some extremely late hour at night, until some ridiculously early hour the following morning.) before 12 weeks, give or take 6 years.
Feeds can take up to an hour, then there’s the settling back to sleep. This can take anything from 10 minutes to an hour. Let’s go with 30 minutes.
So, you have an hour feeding, half an hour settling, leaving you with two and a half hours to do … whatever needs doing before the next feed.
Oh, yeah – that four hours “between feeds”? It starts when bubs STARTS his feed, not when you put him back to sleep. Sorry ‘bout that.
Be kind to yourself. There’s not a lot of time, and there is much to be done. Getting enough rest yourself is essential, so make sure you use some of these short bouts of “free time” to get some down time, otherwise you slowly lose your mind and wonder why the car keys are in the leftover lasagne.
Read a book, have a nap, create and print of signs for your door indicating you are not currently in a fit mental state to be entertaining guests.
I also recommend weekly routines for the household tasks that just must be done. Choose a day each for clothes washing, making the bed, scrubbing the bathroom, and vacuuming and sweeping. Schedule an off day.
Things may pile up a little, but once you get into it and know what you’re in for, things will be more efficient and you can reschedule.
And before you know it … you’ll be into a great routine without having to think about “what now?!”
After approximately 2-3 weeks, you’ll have it down pat; kicking your partner in the back to retrieve the baby for you at Stupid O’Clock to feed then return to it’s cot (if you both stay away long enough), grumble at them about getting their own damned breakfast, after all you’re not their mother, think about how long it’s been since you last had a shower, ponder whether your pyjama pants could pass for tracksuit pants and if you do go outside, will you look like the active and together mum out for her daily walk that you can picture in your head, go for walk anyway, probably with screaming baby and vomit in your hair.
Return home, collapse on couch, contemplate various activities such as washing the towels and preparing the evening meal, make some vague attempts at doing so, and explain to partner when he/she returns home that you’ve been so busy all day that you haven’t had time to think about evening meal and surely Vegemite on toast constitutes several food groups.
After some days, and depending on your ability to effectively communicate how the routine will operate, your partner will just get up and get baby and stop asking insidious questions pertaining to food-like substances expected at a reasonable hour in the evening.
I suggest a chart or table of some description stuck to the fridge. Or nailed to their head.
Establishing consistent routines, therefore, is helpful to the entire family.
The baby will feel settled and, eventually, learn what’s to happen next, readying themselves for the next feed or sleep, or play time.
You will feel slightly more relaxed, anticipating the next part of your day coming up, and, in a few short days, slipping into a routine where you just do things without thinking about them.
As for the rest of the family, they’ll also know what’s happening, and begin to understand what is expected of them, so you will only have to ask them to do it seven times, and not the standard 406.
They’ll also know not to ask “what’s for dinner?” or “Where are my socks?” or “Why are your runners in the freezer again?” saving you the hassle of enquiring as to why you have to do everything around here, in a very loud voice.
Of course, once this 12 weeks is up, they start sleeping through, AND sleeping less through the day, you get to work out a whole new routine!