I’ve always liked to be in control of every minute of my day. When I worked full-time, I would time block my days and know when I needed to be switching over to a new project or heading to a meeting without feeling rushed. When my husband and I decided that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom, panic began to creep into my mind. Babies do what they want when they want (especially during the newborn phase), and I wondered how I would manage my need for routine and balance with what my daughter would need as she entered our world.
One day during my final trimester, a text message came through from my husband’s cousin. “Here is the schedule that we used for the boys if you’re interested. . .” with a link for a set of books by two pediatric nurses. These books were full of practical tips and routines and schedules for different phases of a baby’s first year. I felt a sense of relief because here was something that I could wrap my mind around and feel secure in before officially becoming a mom.
During the first few weeks of my daughter’s life, we were in survival mode. As soon as we hit six weeks, we began implementing the schedule in the book. By nine weeks, our daughter was sleeping 8-hour stretches, and by six months, she was sleeping 7 am – 7 pm. Her naps were like clockwork, and she was a pleasant baby. As weeks and months went by, we would adjust the schedule (per the book’s recommendations), and it was easy to tell what was wrong when she would fuss or cry.
When we had our second daughter, we continued with the schedule. Again, postpartum anxiety started to take over, but I have been able to rely on the schedule to help me through the days. Ever since my youngest turned five months, she and my two-year-old take one overlapping nap for 1.5-2 hours, and I have the downtime to rest in order to continue being the best mom that I can be for them.
Our schedule isn’t as strict as it once was (hello, life with two who are 2-and-under), but we do still limit late wakeup times and meals. I’m not rushing out of the grocery store at 11:30, but I’m still ordering our Chick-Fil-A ahead as we get into the car because being hangry is real when your girls know that after errands, it’s time for food.
My daughters thrive on a routine, and it has been perfect for us. Our friends are always sure to ask about nap times, and our family has never tried to guilt-trip us for glancing at the clock during holidays. Yes, we have to cut some outings short because of our afternoon naps or strict bedtime, but this season of our lives is so short compared to what’s to come.