Schedules. Some moms love it. Some moms hate it. Some grandmothers think that their daughters/daughters-in-law are sickos for thinking about putting their sweet grandchildren on a dreaded schedule.
If you were a student in my classroom or one of my students’ parents, you will know that I love schedules and routines. By reading some of my extensive lists on my blog Doyle Dispatch, you could probably also tell that I like to know what to expect.
Let’s face it, though. Babies like routines also.
Think about it. They spent 9 months in this cozy, safe environment before getting expelled into this crazy, loud, unexpected world. What in the world is going on? As soon as they get comfortable with the way things work, they go through a developmental change and then POOF they have to re-figure out the world again. Scary! That’s why we swaddle our babies. That’s why we live with white-noise machines constantly humming all night long. That’s why we do schedules and routines. We do whatever we can to help guide our babies through the craziness of life, especially during their infancy.
Routines start simply: The Feeding Routine
- change diaper
- allow to nurse for about 10-20 minutes
- supplement with milk that was pre-pumped
We do that every 2-3 hours. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. It’s exhausting, but we can make it work.
Then a growth spurt happens, and we think we are losing our minds.
My breasts hurt. My nipples are falling off. My back is killing me. I’m deliriously tired. Can’t we put them back in?
Around 6 weeks, we re-evaluate and realize that, after this growth spurt is over, our perfect little schedule isn’t good anymore. Our babies aren’t sleeping every other minute of every day. They are getting overstimulated when they are held by us, their grandparents, their aunts, uncles, and visiting friends.
We come up with a new schedule: The Ideal Feeding Schedule
- 11 PM
- 3 AM
- 7 AM
- 10 AM
- 12:30 PM
- 3 PM
- 5:30 PM
- 8 PM
Ha. Like you have enough brain power to stick to that schedule! Think again, Batman!
You re-evaluate after a week and come up with the Get-Daddy-Back-to-Work Schedule
- 8 AM: First Feeding
- In-between: Daddy to work, Mommy and babies 1-1 cuddle or activity
- 11 AM: Feeding
- In-between: Babies nap
- 2 PM: Feeding
- In-between: Mommy 1-1 cuddle time or activity
- 5 PM: Feeding
- In between: Cuddle time
- 8 PM: Feeding
- Babies sleep (expect fussiness)
- 11 PM: Feeding
- Babies sleep
- 2 AM: Feeding
- Babies sleep
- 5 AM: Feeding
- Babies sleep
You discover that this one really doesn’t work either. Maybe it’s the fact that your babies are constantly going through a growth spurt or sleep regression. When one stops, the other starts. You give up. You just forget the advice from The Sleep Book (insert whichever theory you are going with now). You give in. You go with the flow. You feed ever hour if you need to. You feel like you aren’t producing enough milk. You are worried that you are starving your babies, but you plug along.
Suddenly, you realize that you can predict the type of mood that your baby is in at about 2.5 months. They still hate this thing called “napping,” but you just need a few minutes during the day for your shower/coffee/to clean the spit-up off your 3rd shirt of the day. A natural schedule takes place. It’s marvelous!
The Natural Schedule (Times are adjustable)
- 6:00 AM Babies wake up and Daddy soothes them/turns on their mobiles
- 7:00 AM Babies are too hungry and it’s time to eat (Mommy begrudgingly gets out of bed)
- During the feeding, Daddy gets coffee for himself, tea and breakfast for Mommy, and showers
- 7:30 AM Daddy takes both babies, changes diapers and enjoys Happy Morning Time
- 8:15 AM Babies get tired and cranky. Time for naps!
- 9:15 AM Babies are awake (although this can happen much earlier). Time for play gym, tummy time, singing, stories, talking, and other play activities.
- 10:30 AM Mid-morning feeding
- 11:00 AM Happy mid-morning time with activities
- 11:45 AM 2nd nap
- When wake-up: Playroom activity time
- 2:00 PM Afternoon feeding
- 2:30 PM Happy afternoon time with activities
- 2:50 PM Nap
- 4:30 PM Wake-up and playtime
- 5:00 PM Feeding
- 5:30 PM Cuddling with Daddy and Mommy after work (“Couch Cuddle Time”)
- 7:15 PM Baths and Bedtime routines
- 7:45 PM Final Feeding and Goodnights
- Possible feedings around 12:30 AM and 3:30 AM (and sometimes at 5:30 as well)
Now, I’m not saying that this is perfect or that this is the schedule that we always stick to, but overall it does what we want it to do MOST of the time. Feed-play-sleep-play is really a workable routine. There’s a reason that so many moms swear by it.
One other thing that has helped us is this: Whenever David or Audrey shows signs of being tired, we put them down for a nap or let them sleep where they are. If it is in the evening, we will let them fall asleep for a short time wherever they are (in our arms or in their bouncers if it is dinnertime). At this age, we figure that if they sleep, it’s because they need to sleep. Their nighttime sleeping is all over the place anyway, that we just go with it. Napping so close to bedtime hasn’t shown that we’ve had a negative impact on their overnight sleeping. I know that this goes against what the sleep-training advice tells us to do, but it has worked for us, so we stick with it.
Lately, I’ve been having some more appointments, whether is it physical therapy for my shoulder (totally different story… you try having shoulder blade issues when you have two babies that want to be held all the time), a class at the gym (free childcare and a hot shower afterwards!), or just sanity visits from other adults. We have tried one more schedule, based off of The Natural Schedule. We don’t have to stick to it everyday, but it does seem to work:
The 4-Month-Old Schedule
- 7 AM Feeding, Diapers, Play
- 8 AM Nap
- 9:15 AM Feeding, Diapers
- 10 AM Leave for Gym
- 10:30 AM Class at Gym
- 11:30 AM Shower and Locker Room Time
- 12:15 PM Pick Up Babies from Nursery and Go Home
- 12:30 PM Feeding, Diapers, Play
- 1:45 PM Nap
- 3 PM Feeding, Diapers
- 3:30 PM Out and About (or Home) Activities
- 5:30 PM Feeding
- Evening Activities (Walk or Errands)
- 8 PM Baths, Diapers, PJs
- 8:30 PM Final Feeding
- 9 PM Lights Out
- + 1 or 2 feedings during the night
So, mommies and daddies, do you have a schedule that works? I’d love to hear it! How do you make it work with two babies? Do you hold your breath during “nap time” as well, knowing that one of them will wake up any minute?