Being a new mom comes with many new experiences. There’s all this new excitement and joy, but there’s also a lot of exhaustion and stress. If you don’t find a way to get some kind of normalcy back into your life within the first few months, you will regret it. Having a schedule saved my sanity. With my first child, it took me a while to lock down a schedule, which typically happens with all first children, but once I did, it was wonderful!
In the first few months, it’s difficult to know what all should go into your routine. This is because your baby’s natural routine, such as sleep times and feedings, is always fluctuating. But some things that you can put on a schedule are bath time, tummy time, and getting ready for bed. Along with following your schedule, you can learn to get in the flow of your baby’s natural routine. Focus on learning the times that your baby usually eats, sleeps, and is awake, and then work (and rework) your schedule around that. Not only will you find that it will help you to be more relaxed, but your baby will also be more relaxed because their bodies can be on a cycle.
Keeping a schedule is not impossible, but it does have it’s challenges. You may have on your schedule that baby takes a nap at 1:00, but then something comes up that requires your attention, so what do you do? I’ll tell you what you don’t do, don’t STRESS! Your schedule should be flexible and so should you. The schedule is more of a guideline for normal day to day life, but you shouldn’t worry about slipping in a trip to the mall with the girls every once in a while. Sure, your baby might miss their nap in their own bed, but one nap in the car seat is not going to undo their routine. Yes, stick to your routine for the most part, but don’t let it run your life. I’ve known one too many moms who couldn’t go for a play date because their baby was due for a feeding then a nap. First of all, babies can eat anywhere, second, they can also learn to sleep anywhere. If you keep your child on such a strict schedule from the start (not sleeping anywhere but their beds, not missing a nap, only eating at certain times), then they won’t be as flexible the older they get.
The older your child gets, the more important your schedule becomes. As a baby, they pretty much have their own physical schedule, and they won’t really remember not getting a bath the night before. You are really setting the routine so that you are comfortable with what works for you when the child is old enough to need to routine. You should have a decent schedule by the time your child is about 6-8 months. By this time, their eating solids so they can having meal times with you, and their old enough to have a set nap time and such. Now, keep in mind, your routine will always be changing slightly, for example, a 1 year old may need 2 naps a day, where as an 18 month old – 2 year old may only need 1. The reason you want to stick to this established routine is so that your child can have an idea of whats going to happen next. Imagine if you never knew what was going to happen all day, and you were constantly surprised with events? You would be exhausted by the end of the day, because your body would be stressed out by the uncertainty of the day. Well, this happens to your children, which is why it’s important to help them stay on their schedule.
Overall, yes a routine is very important. It helps your child, and yourself, be more organized and content. But you should teach your child that plans change and that’s okay. You do this by not being extremely strict with the routine. It’s okay for them to have a bath at grandma’s house instead of their own if you’re there for a visit and want to stay later. Don’t complicate your routine, that just defeats the whole purpose for the schedule in the first place.