When my daughter was born I was quite young so my knowledge of parenting was very low, my mother had my youngest sister when I was 13 so I did have some experience with babies but compared to what I know now, I knew nothing!! My daughter was a fairly easy baby thankfully, and she was very portable, we had no routine, she just slept when she was tired, wherever she was....in my bed, in her bed, in her swing, in her high chair...anywhere..so I just came and went as I pleased and she was content to follow along...
My son on the other hand is the complete opposite!! He needs a structured routine and will only be content if he is sleeping in his bed...not once since day 1 has he ever fallen asleep in his stroller, and he is just now starting to fall asleep in the car if the ride is longer than 30 minutes.
When he was born it had been 11 years since I had last taken care of a newborn so it felt like the first time all over again..this time however I was not on speaking terms with my mother and my dad lived in Ontario, so I basically had nobody to ask questions to. This was Mike's first baby as I had only met him when Nikki was 3 years old, so I was basically relying on the things I could remember from my first experience ( which wasn't much, I think my memory is fading) and I also relied on books and the Internet. I cant say that one particular book or site was the Bible of parenting for me but I was able to take little pieces of each one and piece them together to see what worked.
Portland spent most of his first 4 months in my arms...he was happy there and pretty much refused to sleep elsewhere, and I found myself getting into the habit of rocking him to sleep...then I would slowly creep up the stairs and delicately deposit him in his bassinet and tip toe out...now as you can imagine the gentle depositing didnt always work and there were many rinse and repeat nights...sound familiar?
I was never able to get anything done...by the time Mike would get home at night I would beg him for just 5 minutes to take a shower because I was so drained....I dreamed of being able to put my baby awake but drowsy in his crib...turning out the lights, whispering goodnight, and closing the door...but I was far far from that..many nights he would wake up and realize he was no longer in my arms and start to wail.. I would have to take him to bed with me out of pure exhaustion ( in our co-sleeper of course)!
Then I started to read about routines in my Baby Whisperer book...was this possible? A routine? Predictability? Ability to function? But my first hurdle was getting him to sleep in his crib on his own....I reached out for some help from my network of Facebook moms and the same methods of letting him cry were being suggested. I was not a fan of this method, I hated hearing him cry and I didnt want him to think I was abandoning him. My friend Cassie told me to let him cry for 5 minutes the first day then go in and check him, comfort him, then go again for 5 more minutes...the next day go in after 10 minutes and then 15 minutes and so on until he is able to sleep on his own..I literally sat by the clock and watched the minutes pass.
But wait...could it be? After 20 minutes he was sound asleep..in his crib...alone....MY ARMS WERE FREE!!!!!! I couldnt believe it!! From that day forward he falls asleep on his own in his crib no problem! It was probably the best decision I ever made! I am not saying it would be that easy for everyone but the trick is to be consistent.
Since then we have been following a routine that is basically ruled by I know that his limit of being awake is usually 2-3 hours after he has woken up..so it goes a little like this:
7:30 - Wake up, Bottle
8:00- 8:30- Play
8:30 - Cereal and fruit
9:00 - Nap
10:30 - Wake up
10:30- 11:30 play
11:30 - Bottle
12:00-12:30 - Play
12:30 - Meat and Fruit
1:00 - Nap
2:30 - Wake Up
3:00- 3:30 - Play
3:30-4:30 - Play
6:00- Wake up
6:00 - Veggies and fruit
6:30-7:30 - Play
8:30 - Bed
This obviously can vary depending on the way he sleeps, ect... but this is mostly what I stick to. A routine is great for predictability and babies love to know what comes next, BUT.....if you have to plan an outing or do something that throws off the routine it can sometimes cause major havoc!! That would be my only irk with it. But since we are home more then we are out it really isnt that big of a problem. As he is getting older he is able to adapt more and more to the change. I guess you learn new things with each child as each of their personalities are different and different tactics work for different babies. I really enjoy learning new things with him and I really enjoy sharing some of the things that worked with others..if I can help just one mother free her hands and get control of her days back then I will have succeeded!!
I have so much to write about but I am just so exhausted tonight so I will continue tomorrow! Lots of stuff going on!
Oh yeah and wanted to let you know that little boy from my bike thief story got his bike back!! I am so glad!