Okay maybe we don't die by the schedule, but we definitely live by it. We have come to embrace Beatrice's schedule. Or routine. Some people really don't like the word "schedule" in the same sentence as the word "baby." Whatever it's called, it is a means of survival in this house.
When Beatrice was born, I was not prepared. I thought I was prepared, but I was not prepared. I read a ton of books about different parenting philosophies. I knew that I wasn't an attachment parenthood (AP) person (I'm pretty anti-AP, or at least opposite-AP. Does that make me detachment parenthood? That doesn't sound right....) but didn't know exactly where I fit in on the spectrum. I agreed with the principles of parent directed parenting the most which advocates the parents' role in guiding the child's day with a schedule of feedings and sleep time. With my newfound parenting style realized and my new babe to raise, I eagerly tried to enact our schedule.
At first, Beatrice was too "newborn" to cooperate with my lofty ideas of a schedule. I dreamt of knowing when my baby's next feeding or nap time would occur so I could tell my grandmother when a good time to visit would be. In those first few weeks, it never failed, as soon as a visitor arrived Beatrice would want to nurse. For an hour. So my visitors would come expecting to hold a sweet, new baby but instead had to watch me fumble with nursing a baby shark. It frustrated everyone involved. Not to mention making appointments were a nightmare. When asked "what time does she nap," I would be clueless. Because she did whatever she wanted. Which is fine and normal for a tiny baby, but I knew once she was older this mama would know when nap time would be.
Fast forward to around 3 months old. Beatrice finally responded to the schedule. It took a lot of discipline on my part to get up when she did each morning. We were in the habit of nursing in bed and sleeping until 10 am. After about a week of getting up when she did and staying home to make it a solid habit, the days fell into a wonderful, workable schedule. Our days go something like this:
7 - 7:45 am - wake up, drink milkies, play, feed the kitty, get dressed for the day
8:30 - 9 am - milkies, morning nap (this is when I shower, make baby food, clean, prepare for our activities for the day)
11 - noon - wake up, milkies, lunchies, (everthing has an "ie" at the end of it nowadays, just roll with it) play, run errands, swim, whatever
1:30 - 2 pm - milkies, 1st afternoon nap
3 - 4 pm - wake up, milkies, play, take a walk, errands, whatever
Depending on what time she wakes up from the 1st afternoon nap, there is usually 1 more short nap before 5 pm, milkies
6 pm - dinner, play, bath
7:30 pm - stories, milkies, bed
I LOVE this schedule, and so does Beatrice. She looks forward to me walking her upstairs to her nursery for naps and bedtime (I know this by the excited huh-huh-huhs she does while kicking her legs when I lay her in the crib). It's like she is relieved that there is some predictable order to her day. We both know what to expect and we work to keep the routine the same(ish) each day.
So where are we today? We are smack dab in the middle of being a slave to the schedule. I didn't leave much wiggle room in the schedule. This means if we meet a friend for an impromptu lunch that runs into nap time, Beatrice can't handle the breach in contract. This is probably why she was miserable on our vacation too. I didn't mean for this happen. I just wanted our days to be calculable. They are that indeed. But they are also pretty rigid because of her being so accustomed to the schedule. She seriously struggles if we stray.
I can admit when I have created a bit of a monster. And this schedule of ours has begun to reveal it's warts and scales. I really love knowing the exact time she will be asleep each day but straying from our routine really throws a wrench in her day. While it is easier to just stay home these days (for many reasons), I would like to be able to have a long shopping trip where my baby sleeps in the stroller instead of wails and cries for her beloved crib and lovies.
I do think schedules are important for the parents and the child, sometimes equally so. But next time I will leave room for a little leniency.