After a bit of a hiatus from MoJoing, I came back to the whole thing with fresh eyes today and realized I have neglected to tell you about one of the absolute key ingredients to my sanity joy in mothering: a little bit of structure and a healthy bit of sleep!
I am not a planner. I am very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, and for the most part, that’s worked out okay for me. But even before I had a baby of my own, though, I discovered that babies (and children) like routine. They like to know there’s a plan. They thrive on knowing what’s happening next in their day, and without that sense of security, things tend to go a little wonky.
I guess everyone has routines, so what I’m saying here isn’t rocket science, but I really don’t think you can overstate their importance, especially for small babies. We’ve always followed (roughly) a feed-play-sleep pattern throughout the day with our babies, and that has worked really well for our family.
There was a time when I felt quite dogmatic about these things (back when I only had a six-month-old, and I knew everything!), but I realize now that God has made every family different, and there is no one-size-fits- all routine, so I try to save my advice for when people actually ask for it. Or, you know, for here, where I can say whatever I want and nobody can argue with me. Except in the comments. Be nice, though, okay?
I will say this: if it weren’t for a regular naptime in the afternoon for my little ones and quiet play time for my big ones, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have a blog at all (not that you’d notice the difference these days!). That’s what they’re doing right now, in fact. If it weren’t for regular(ish) bedtimes in the evening, my kids would not be at their best during the day, and I would never get to have a grown-up conversation with my husband (although, we totally still call each other Mummy and Daddy after they’re in bed. That’s a tough one to shake off in a few short hours!)
These are important things for us as parents *and* for our little ones. I think there is a perception among those who follow a different parenting philosophy that expecting babies to nap and sleep according to a routine is selfish and maybe even a little bit cruel. We have found that *everyone* in the family benefits from being well-rested, and that when mommy *or* baby is sleep-deprived for any length of time things start unraveling very quickly. But, like I said, I do realize that not everybody is us. And that’s probably a very good thing! As the girls at Girltalk faithfully reminded their readership when they blogged about this very topic * a few years ago, it’s just a suggestion ** .
(By the way, yes that *is* our eleven-month-old baby girl pulling herself up in her crib. Isn’t she sweet?)
*Follow the link and scroll down to the bottom of the category to see their series of posts on routines.
** This post makes a great case for Christians being united as followers of Christ and His gospel and *not* identifying ourselves by things like breastfeeding, homeschooling, and birth control which I have, perhaps, been known to get my feathers ruffled over on occasion. Excellent point, well made.