I’ve mentioned before on Life With Leo that one of the most common pieces of advice I received before I gave birth was: get him on a schedule and life will be so much easier. As my husband and I navigated through the early months of new parenthood, I tried my best to do just that. I consulted Pinterest, online forums, and other moms in an attempt to develop a baseline for our “schedule” and I tracked Leo’s feedings and naps for as long as I could stand to in order to individualize his new itinerary. (You can read more about that here and here.)
Well, flag on the play: it’s all a bunch of bologna – for lack of a better word. Once again, I had to learn through experience that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to babies and parenting.
First of all, let me say that a routine is not quite the same thing as a schedule. From my perspective – in a routine, you moreso do the same things everyday. With a schedule, you try to do those same things at roughly the same times everyday.
I’m here to tell you why that didn’t work out for us. We said ‘eff the schedule – because,
1. Growth and development brings constant change.
Let’s discuss the obvious: babies do a hell of a lot of growing and developing within the first year of life. As they learn new things, they want to spend time practicing those new things. Exhibit A: Leo would rather play stand-up, sit-down in his crib instead of taking a nap during the day. My point is – you can’t expect for a baby to take a nap like clockwork at the same times or for the same duration. (If your child does, hit me up – you’re hired!) In my experience, it will change based on how tired Leo is from day-to-day. Sure, I can put him down in his crib for his morning nap at or around 9:30 AM – but, it’s up to him whether or not he will fall asleep quickly or practice his next trick.
2. Teething or illness will screw everything up.
Alright, maybe you’ve conquered naps and feeds or you’re Bedtime Betty: The Pro. (Again, you’re hired – call me.) If those tiny teeth are cutting through or you’ve got a feverish little one on your hands, don’t count on checking the boxes off your daily schedule. Teething is painful for our babes and a runny or congested nose isn’t any better. So, you can kiss those scheduled naps goodbye and you’ll be doing more nostril maintenance than feeding. (You try chugging a bottle with a clogged nose.)
3. It doesn’t work for our lifestyle.
I tried to make a schedule work for me more than for Leo. As I work from home full-time, I wanted some sort of guide that I could use to navigate through my days. I wanted to know what I could or should be doing while Leo was doing his thing. I quickly realized that I, myself, don’t do the same things everyday. There’s times (often) when I want or need to leave the house for errands, playdates, appointments, family visits – you name it. In those cases, sometimes a nap is missed or a feed happens in the car instead of at home. I also, thankfully, don’t have the need to be out the door every morning at the same time – so, we can be a little bit more flexible around here.
If you’re interested in how we handle our days: we wing it! I do my best to get two naps out of Leo – but, sometimes, it’s just one. On the rare occasion (see point #2) – it’s none – but, then I can almost certainly count on an early bedtime.