As part of our routine or no routine series, we have tapped into our network of multi-cultural mummy friends who have shared their experiences with us. Part three of this series, is written by Mrs C who has adopted a more…. relaxed approach to a baby routine.
“When I was pregnant, I would observe our friends with kids and I always thought that the best behaved children were the ones on a routine. It was probably just a coincidence, but it anyway made my mind up that routine was the way forward for us. The benefits seemed endless…predictability, well behaved baby, rested mummy… I was so set on this, that we actually employed an expert as soon as we could, to help us establish the routine.
And the routine worked great. Our baby girl was one of the first to sleep through the night, and the predictability of the feeding and napping cycles, meant that I was very attuned to her needs. However, what I found very hard, and what I think that most people on a routine do not always admit to, is that for it to work you have to continue working at it (sometimes hard) and that it also means that you are a little imprisoned by it.
I am a very active and sociable person and I found that having to stay indoors between 12.00 and 2.30 EVERY day very limiting. It was probably also that my baby is such a light sleeper that she would not follow the routine when out and about. After a couple of weeks of not joining my NCT friends on the various activities because ‘it is nap time’, I decided that this was not going to work for us. A happy mummy is a happy baby, and this mummy was the happiest when surrounded by her friends, their babies and a nice skinny cappuccino.
There came a period of adjustment. After being on a routine for a while, when she found herself in a soft play area during nap time, baby was a little confused. But being sociable and adaptable little creature, she soon figured it out. I also figured out that she was happiest when in the company of other babies, and in some ways became more manageable as a result of a more flexible routine. So here is how it works for us:
- we roughly follow the Gina Ford routine with the three naps a day (short morning nap, long lunchtime nap and short afternoon nap). We are flexible and vary the nap times depending on our activities. If she does not take a long enough lunchtime nap, she will make it up later by having longer than the 45 minutes recommended by most routines
- two to three times a week, we stay at home and try to follow the routine by the book. This bores baby and mummy but I think it is important to avoid her getting over tired
- we are more strict when it comes to feeding times. There we only vary by 15 minutes here or there. Although not so at the beginning, she will now have meals anywhere. This fits with our lifestyle as we love eating out
- we are religious about the nighttime routine of bath, little story, bottle of milk and off to bed. She knows that there is no room for negotiation. It is always at the same time and done in the same way.
This more relaxed approach to a routine is not for everyone, but it has really worked for us by giving us a rough outline to the day. What is interesting is that one way or another, all babies (whether on a routine or not) all end up falling into a similar schedule naturally.”