I think the best advice I got before my son was born was from my big sister. She told me that schedules will change as soon as they become schedules so you need to be flexible and go with the flow. SO TRUE. I can’t say how many “Day in the life” or “Baby schedule” posts I read before having my son. The funny thing now is, not one of those has ever been close to reality for me. Does your baby really go down for a nap every single day at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm? If so, congratulations! For me however, our days work best if we stick to the same routine, but not schedule. I say that because there are things that happen the exact same way, every single day, but not necessarily at the same times. For example, there is a diaper change, a sleep sack, a sound machine, and a book before each nap and bedtime but, bedtime is the ONLY thing that happens at the same time each day. My son goes to bed at the same time each evening but he doesn’t wake up at the same time each morning. Therefore, sticking to a rigid schedule throughout the day goes right out of the window if he decides to sleep in an hour later than the day before. Our mode of operation is to take a nap when he tells me he needs one. If it’s been 3 hours and he’s extra vocal, and I mean LOUD, than he needs a nap. If the same scenario is happening and it’s only been an hour and half, he still needs a nap. If he’s rubbing his eyes, then for sure he needs a nap, and so on. In the beginning, I would notice patterns and get excited like my son was creating his own perfect schedule I could rely on (HA!) Then, without fail, the second I would arrange a day around said “schedule” he would change it up and the whole thing would fall apart. That is why I like to encourage new mamas to get your routines straight. Let naps and bedtime be predictable for your baby based on routine but not by the clock. If you get 2 naps one day and 3 the next, so be it. BE FLEXIBLE.
Another note about flexibility as a new mom is- I have learned not only do I need to be flexible with my time tables, but also the details of each routine itself. Not every feedings will be perfect and not every day will my son enjoy a book read to him. Sometimes he wiggles around in my lap, grabs every page, wants to teeth on the entire book itself. Sometimes he’ll nurse for a few minutes before getting distracted by the dogs playing, only to continue for another few minutes. Or, if they decide to bark from the UPS truck coming up our driveway, there’s no getting his attention back at all and the nursing session is totally over. At one point, my routine was that I would feed my son when he woke up from each nap because eat, play, sleep had been burned in to my brain from Baby Wise. However, the reality is that my son likes to wake up a bit first. He likes to play, see the dogs, laugh, see daddy, suck on a toy, etc. before he is ready to settle in for a calm full feeding. Our routine is more like, wake, play, eat, play, sleep or even more backwards- wake, play, eat, sleep. And you know what? It works perfectly for us. Nothing changed. He still eats and sleeps well no matter what “order” we do these things in. Again, I highly recommend establishing your own routines that are easily recognized by your baby over creating schedules that are set in stone. Honestly, nothing can be set in stone when it comes to a baby. Our routines help my son know what certain habits mean and what’s coming next and it really has made our days flow pretty easily. Maybe it will work for you and maybe not. That’s the beauty in each child being an individual and YOU being the parent.