transformed into a routine mama

Before becoming a mama, I never thought I would be writing this post, but I feel like I have to share this with the world as embracing a routine has literally changed my life.

Harper has always been a great night sleeper (see this post on our sleeping journey), but when she hit 10 weeks old she stopped consistently napping during the day. Some days she would sleep for a few 40 minute blocks (in our arms) and other days she would only sleep for 20 minutes at a time. Every time I was out she wanted to be fed (even if she had just been fed an hour earlier) and she just wasn't happy unless she was being cuddled or played with.

I didn't mind devoting all my time to her for those first few months, it was nice to develop that bond between us and I knew that newborn babies often want to be held for no reason. However, when she got to three months old and she still wasn't napping properly I started to worry.

People would tell me not to get anxious about her not sleeping during the day as she slept so well at night. While I knew we were lucky Harper was a good night sleeper, I also knew she needed more sleep during the day for her brain development and emotional wellbeing.

It was also starting to get to me that I never had any time for myself and I was struggling to keep on top of all the household duties because Harper constantly wanted my attention.

I had read numerous sleep training programs while I was pregnant and pick and chose bits and pieces from each program to suit my lifestyle. When Harper was first born I decided not to even try sticking to a routine as it was Christmas and we had a constant stream of visitors coming over. After the holidays were over and my husband returned to work, I continued letting Harper feed and nap on demand. It was important to me to respond to all her cries and be really gentle with her during those first few months.

Not to mention, all the sleep training programs had super strict routines which meant I would have to be home at certain times during the day EVERY day and we would never be able to go out at night. This was a major turn off for me as I naively thought my life would be exactly the same post-baby, apart from the fact that I would be bringing my baby along to all my social commitments!

Well I soon realised that if I wanted a happy and content little bubba, then my life needed to change drastically. At around three months, I introduced a routine into our life and it has seriously made things SO much easier. Now I know when Harper is going to feed. I know when she should be waking up and I know when she should be playing.

I devote all of her play time to being with her, actually being present, rather than sitting her on the floor and running around like a headless chicken trying to get household duties done haha.

Harper is now nine months old and an average day for us looks something like this:

06.00am - I wake up and try to fit a work out in.
06.30am - Harper wakes up and my husband brings her into our bed (her wake up time varies day to day but is usually around 5.30-7am).
07.00am - I feed Harper her first milk feed of the day, we get ready for the day, have breakfast and usually head out to grab a coffee (sometimes we drop my husband in to work and other times we meet someone out for a coffee).
08.30am - Play time. Sometimes we head to the park for a swing or have some floor time.
09.00am - Harper's first nap. She will sleep anywhere from 1-2.5 hours depending on how well she slept at night and what we have done that morning. I try and get most of my housework done during this nap as I am most productive in the morning. Plus it's so nice having a clean house and being able to relax in the afternoon!
11.00am - Milk feed, followed by lunch and play time. I also schedule any catch ups or run errands during this time.
01.30pm - Harper's second nap - she will usually sleep for 2 hours. I usually spend 30 minutes of this nap time cleaning or cooking and then have 1.5 hours of bliss to relax, make lunch for myself, read a book or take a bath.
03.30pm - Milk feed and play time. This is where I have to make sure I am actively playing with Harper as the afternoons (or the witching hours as some like to call it) can be very hard! After an hour or so, Harper gets grizzly, I'm trying to get last minute jobs done around the house, get dinner ready and it can be difficult keeping Harper up and playing (which is integral if she is going to sleep well at night). I usually set up play stations so Harper does some time in her Jolly Jumper, some time watching The Wiggle, reading and singing nursery rhymes and some time doing floor play. I will also take Harper on a quick walk at this time if the weather is nice.
06.00pm - I feed Harper dinner and if hubby is home, we usually eat at the same time.
06.30pm - Bath, book, milk feed and bed.
07.30pm - Mama finally has time to relax!

While this routine may seem quite strict, I am actually very relaxed and go with the flow. My husband plays football so has training a few nights a week. These nights we usually stick to routine because we are home and I find it easier to get through everything when it's just me and Harper! Other nights when we head to our parents houses or have weekend commitments, I try and give Harper an extra little afternoon nap so she can stay up to 9pm when we return home.

If you are going to trial a routine, I think it's important to still consider your lifestyle and fit in sleep and play times around that. If you are flexible then you are more likely to stick to your routine and mama and bubba will both be happy. Also don't worry if you get thrown off your routine for most of the day, just try and pick up from the time you get home and don't stress if your baby sleeps less on the odd day. If I am out of the house and miss one of Harper's nap times, I know she will still squeeze in a 20 minute nap while I am driving home, which usually recharges her enough until her next nap time. Otherwise I will move her afternoon nap forward and then give her an extra catnap around 5pm.

Babies really do thrive off routine and it has been an absolute game changer for us.

Disclaimer: We have followed this same routine since Harper was six months old. Before that, we followed a similar routine with one extra 40 minute nap at 5pm. All of Harper's naps are taken in her cot - she doesn't sleep very well in her pram, but will sleep in the car. I know some friends whose babies sleep for hours in their prams ... if you are one of these lucky people then you can even stick to your routine when you are out and about! 

xx G

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