I recently shared our current daily routine on the blog. I remember when I received a DM on Instagram from a follower asking if I could share our routine as she was looking to create one in her life. I was shocked! Someone is reaching out to ME for advice?
I was shocked because it has literally taken me 8 months to create some form of steady schedule or routine with Lola. Honestly it was impossible for me to even fathom coming up with a loose routine in the early days - or rather months - with Lola’s reflux and colic. However this all changed when we decided to sleep train.
Playing off of Our Daily Routine, here I will be diving deeper into how we managed to get here.
Lola was a horrible sleeper. I think I can count on one hand how many times she slept for a stretch longer than 4 hours in the first 5 months of life. She refused to take naps anywhere other than in my arms. To get her to even think about closing her eyes, I needed to pat her back while rocking her no less than 1 million times. I felt like my whole life was out of control. My house was a disaster, my marriage was suffering, and I was struggling to enjoy life with my little girl.
The light at the end of the tunnel really started to shine when we decided to sleep train. We bit the bullet and purchased a program from Taking Cara Babies. On December 5th - the day Lola turned 5 months old - we started the process. Mastering night sleep was key to be able to lay the foundation of our daily routine. Soon after night sleep was conquered, we got naps down. This is where the all important Wake Windows come into play.
Currently, for Lola’s age, her wake windows should average 3-4 hours. This means she should be awake that long before her next sleep (nap or bedtime). She takes two naps a day at around 1-1.5 hours long. Back when we started to form our daily schedule, Lola was taking three naps and only awake for 2 to 3 hours at a time. Once I had Lola’s wake windows solidified, I worked backwards to make a loose routine.
The second thing I layered into the routine was food. When I first started to create our schedule, Lola was only eating two meals of solids a day. Now at 10 months old, she is eating three meals and two snacks. It became apparent I needed to schedule those in so I knew how much free time I had left to plan other activities.
Before the Pandemic, the layer of activities included things like Baby Rhyme Time, appointments, play dates, and going to the gym. Now that we’re all stuck at home, I made sure to fill up an hour chunk of the day with a walk. As mentioned in my previous post, I like to reserve the morning wake time for playing together on the floor. Playing together is obviously important but it also helps me curb the guilt if the rest of the day has a lot of independent play - depending on how much housework, cooking, or administrative tasks I need to accomplish.
The last layer I scheduled into our day was the bedtime routine. Ask literally any sleep consultant and they will go on and on about how important it is to have a bed time routine. Ours takes about an hour - because we stretch it out.
So if you’re thinking of creating a daily schedule or routine for you and baby, these are the steps you should take:
Figure out the appropriate wake window for your little so that you know when it is time to take a nap or when bedtime should be.
Plan out how many times a day your baby needs to eat and factor in how long that takes.
After sleep and food, the remaining time of the day is yours to fill with activities!
Except for the time at the end of the day you need to leave for your bedtime routine. (This could include things like books, bath, massage - but I will touch on that in another post!)
This was my process for creating a routine that worked for us. As much as I needed structure in my life, I know that having a set routine is important for Lola’s growth and development. I first read about it in the AHS The Early Years book that was given to me by my doctor. As parents, it is our job to provide warmth (showing love, creating a safe home, etc) and structure (predictable routines, giving guidelines). AHS goes in depth about these needs on page 12 of The Early Years book.
Overall, creating and setting this daily routine has been key for Lola and I. It helps me take things day by day or wake window by wake window on the harder days. I am able to book appointments with ease (you know when we had those), and get time in for myself and my marriage. I am by no means perfect at it but I do put a lot of my energy into keeping our schedule. The thought has crossed my mind about how am I going to do this when we have another baby, but that’s a problem for another day!