So, I’ve been musing recently (did you hear that ominous soundtrack playing?) and nothing good comes out of musing – not for anyone. You see, with musing there is no one definite problem so there is no answer. It’s the kind of thing that makes my husband’s logical head explode.
And what have I been musing about you ask… schedules – more specifically, baby schedules.
For some reason, this topic has smacked me in the face a lot recently. Maybe it was being in Cancun and people asking me about Monkey’s schedule (in a very nice way as to not interrupt it, nothing negative at all). Or maybe it was coming home and reading a string on babycenter.com where a member asked about other’s baby schedules and people wrote out their schedules in detail…down to the 15 minute increment – seriously. Or maybe it’s that I start out every day thinking about what needs to get done and when I can get it done based on Monkey’s schedule. Whatever – the point is, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
And here is what I think (with the disclaimer that I don’t have any fancy letters after the “i” in my last name and I’m only writing from the experience of one child)… I’m not sold on the belief that strict schedules are for the baby.
Huh – what did I just say? Did I seriously just go against generations of medical and behavioral beliefs? You betcha’… read more for the reasons why.
What I have been told since before Evan was born is that I had to get my baby on a schedule. I was told baby’s like schedules – they like being able to anticipate what is coming next. I received advice on all different types of schedules (for those of you without children – yes, there are “types” or “theories” on schedules) and being a new mother diligently listened. And I tried to put my baby on these schedules. I woke him at certain times, fed him at certain times, played with him at certain times, and put him to sleep at certain times. I followed this for a while… and my baby rebelled at every turn. But, I didn’t stop chasing this Holy Grail of a schedule because it was what everyone told me was supposed to happen.
And then we moved and all schedules disappeared. I had to fit in packing, moving, unpacking, etc. and Evan had to be flexible. He didn’t particularly like this either.
Apparently, Evan didn’t like me enforcing a schedule nor did he like having to follow a non-schedule. And so I started to pay attention to him and here is what I learned. If Evan wakes up early (like 5:00 AM… yes, you read that correctly) then usually about an hour after waking he will need a 30-45 minute nap. He will then take 2 more 45 minute naps in the morning and early afternoon and a long (2 hours) nap in the late afternoon. Since he is up a lot in this “schedule” he eats more – about 5 bottles a day. And he tells me when he is hungry. If he wakes up later, (like 6:30 / 7:00 AM) then he usually takes a long (2 hours) nap in the late morning and one in the late afternoon. Since he sleeps for longer periods in this “schedule” he usually eats about 4 bottles a day and tells me when he is hungry. That’s it – there are no times associated with the events and when he isn’t sleeping he is eating, playing, or running errands. And… as you might have seen, my baby is more than happy.
So what have I learned… what if babies are like grown-ups? Some of us do really well on schedules and some of us don’t? We apply this to baby sleeping habits (some babies are early risers and some aren’t) so why not apply it to other places? What if some babies need the predictability of a schedule and other babies get bored with it (contentment and boredom might look similar in babies)? And babies can’t tell time – so why do we create schedules that are so based on the clock? What is the difference between a schedule that indicates the baby will eat, play, then sleep and a schedule that indicates at 7:00 AM he eats, from 7:30 – 9:00 he plays, from 9:00 – 9:30 he reads a book to settle down, and at 9:30 he goes down for a nap? Could the difference be the parent? For instance, my sister thrives on a schedule and so do her fabulous children. As I’ve said maybe once or twice, schedules just stress me out… and so maybe I’ve passed that to Evan?
Of course, as I stated in the beginning of this post, there is no answer. What I’m doing works for Evan right now… this could change tomorrow.
And maybe I’m musing on this because I “failed” miserably at the schedule and I refuse to have this mean I’ve “failed” as a parent. I’m sure I will screw up enough things – why do we have to manufacture things for me to screw up as well?
I feel the need to add one more thing. I’ve really tried to keep this blog to all about Evan since that is the intent. But sometimes I can’t resist the temptation to use this space to let out some of my musings… at least they are Evan-related. I’ll resume more Evan things on Monday.