I used to never be one for routines. Sure, when I was working, I did the same things every morning as most – woke up at a certain time, got ready in a certain order, caught a certain bus…. But on the weekends when it was my time? No way José. I flew by the seat of my pants and did what I wanted, when I wanted.
When McKenna was born, we still never really followed a routine. We did what we could to make sure all her needs were met, promptly – fed on demand, napped on demand, even her bedtime was on demand those first few months. But, as time went by, we started to get to know our baby more and more and realized certain things – that she liked to eat every 2 hours, nap a few times a day, and was tired and cranky by 8pm.
We then started a bedtime routine to help wind her down, and have her in bed by 7:30. The predictability helped her settle, and know that bedtime was coming. We have stuck to this routine, with a few revisions, since she was about 4 months old.
As for naps, I still allowed McKenna to nap on demand. I simply waited for signs she was tired and put her to sleep. It worked for us, until summer arrived – it seemed we were always out of the house, by obligation and by choice, and McKenna took the majority of her daytime naps on the go, in the stroller, in the car, or her favorite, in the carrier.
McKenna didn’t mind – McKenna is, and always has been, a pretty low maintenance baby. But with all the craziness of last month, I felt the need to spend a full week close to home, to get McKenna (and myself) back on track and catch up on some much needed rest.
It was being at home those few days when I started a real pattern emerging concerning her naptimes. She showed signs of tiredness at the same times daily. And when I started incorporating regular activities into her day, she seemed the happier for it. She would always wake up from naps happy and well rested, ready to take on the rest of the day.
Our daily routine looks a little like this (but is by NO MEANS strict or set in stone):
-Between 7:30 & 8:30, McKenna wakes up to nurse and is feeling pretty playful. We come out to the living room, and she crawls around and stretches her limbs while I let Shiloh out, feed the zoo, and make myself a cup of coffee IF we are planning on leaving the house that morning. If we are not, I hold off on the caffeine – for now.
-Half an hour to an hour after waking, McKenna shows signs of being tired again. I still don’t know whether I would classify this as her first nap of the day, or rather just an extension of her nighttime sleep, because without fail she goes down for another hour of sleep. I join her, unless as aforementioned we have somewhere to be that morning that requires me to actually get ready versus rocking the “Mum look” (a ponytail and very minimal makeup).
-At around 8:30 or 9:30, McKenna is now up and ready to start the day. It is then I make her breakfast – she has a variety of foods, but for example, today she had bananas, blueberries, and cottage cheese. She is 100 percent self-fed at breakfast, which means breakfast can take upwards of half an hour some days. I encourage her to take as much time as she needs to. More often than not, being self-fed also means that she earns herself a one-way ticket to the bathtub. Most days, I let her play around in the tub for about ten minutes, unless she is due for a bath with daddy that night (approx. every 3 days) in which case, I quickly scrub her down then lotion her up.
-This is the prime time to leave the house if we need to be somewhere before lunch, like an appointment, her KinderMusik class or Baby Laptime. She is awake enough to enjoy the outdoors and the bus ride, and is a lot of fun. If we are staying home that day, we head back out to the living room where I read her books, or we play with her toys on the floor.
-Around noon, she is ready for her first (or second?) nap. We go to her bedroom, dim the lights, and read a story. She then nurses herself to sleep and I creep out of the room.
-This is where I have “me” time and I try to decide what to do with it. Sometimes I clean, sometimes I shower, sometimes I exercise, sometimes I wedding plan…. and some days (lots of days)….. I sit on the couch, rest and do absolutely nothing but wait for her to wake up.
-She wakes up around 1:30 or 2, happy and rested. She usually nurses again and we come out to the living room. If we have somewhere to be that afternoon or I have an errand to run, this once again is the prime time to leave to keep her engaged while we venture out of the house. If we are staying home for the day, we either head out to the backyard, to the playground down the street, or sometimes just take the puppy out for a walk.
-We spend the rest of the afternoon just enjoying each others company. McKenna spends most of her time crawling all over the place – I spend most of the time playing or chasing after her. We play a lot of music, do a lot of dancing, and just have fun together.
-Her second (or third?) nap comes around 4:30 and only last about 45 minutes. Once she wakes, I am usually preparing or already cooking supper. I either put McKenna in her jumper in the kitchen, or close the upstairs doors while she continues to motor around.
-Daddy’s home! He always scoops up McKenna and the two of them go lay on the living room floor, have conversations and play while I finish dinner. We then all eat together around 6.
-If it’s bath day, Daddy takes McKenna and they play in the tub for about half an hour. If it’s not bath day, sometimes we walk to the park as a family (dog included) or sometimes we just lay around and talk and play.
-Around 7ish, McKenna starts rubbing her eyes and yawning. This is the golden time to start her bedtime routine. We have family story time, where we read her a story each, say a goodnight rhyme, cuddle, and nurse to sleep. At the moment, McKenna and I are sleeping on the floor in her bedroom on a makeshift bed. Daddy joins us on weekends and we usually have a pet or two with us also. We love our family bed!
As mothers, I feel like we are constantly learning more about our children and what they need from us. After spending that week at home, I began to realize that McKenna thrives and sleeps better when her days take a predictable shape. Does this mean I now stay home all day everyday? By NO MEANS. But I simply have realized how to plan our day better to make sure we both get the most out our days when we are out and about. And I think we are both the better for it :).