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.