Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's "Parent Led" at our house! Schedules and our daily routine....

I've been asked for some time about our daily routine and scheduling so I thought it was time to share, you know like after the kid is 8 months old and this info is really relevant now ha! But for a lot of new mommies or ones who are looking for a new "plan" maybe it will be some helpful insight.

When I was pregnant we decided that we didn't want to do the whole "go with the flow" parenting style... I mean if you start off that way my thought is that you stay that way, and just "going with the flow" when my 16 year old son rolls in the door at 2 am was not going to happen. I also am a big believer that a child should fit into your life, not the other way around. You should take them everywhere you go, do the things you used to do, and make it work. You DONT sit at home on Friday nights because you're afraid your newborn won't be able to handle that restaurant or stray away from girls night because you're not sure that your husband can handle it all alone. So that was my philosophy going into all of this parenting stuff.

We knew right away we were going to have a schedule as opposed to just feeding him when he was hungry and letting him sleep whenever he decided to. Some people call this  "parent-led" vs.  "baby-led" parenting. To me this made life so much simpler with a newborn, things were predictable, I could plan my day, I knew what to expect and so did my child. A routine made things seem less overwhelming.  I just couldn't fathom not having a routine, I didn't want be at the grocery store and end up having to run out to the parking lot because HL decided that NOW was time to eat. Instead I could say "the kid eats at noon so we go shopping at 1 which will give me enough time to get back for nap time at 2" .... in my opinion this was a better way to do things.

And imagine this with more than one kid... how about 3.... and there's NO schedule.... oiy! The toddler is up and wanting to play, the newborn's fussing and ready to sleep, and other one is ready for a sandwich'd be cooking while simultaneously breastfeeding and playing Monopoly... could you imagine the chaos! Without a schedule to try and get them all on the same page you'd have your head spinning by 7:30am!

Now I'm not knocking those people who choose to be baby led. If it works for them then great but for me there was NO way. Things would've been too chaotic and with 12 weeks of colic I would've lost my mind for sure.

So what did we choose as a schedule? Well in the first weeks it was pretty much solely a feeding schedule since for those first several weeks they just eat and immediately pass out. We left the hospital on a 3 hour feeding schedule, 4 hours at night. So HL would eat every three hours during the day until about 10:00pm at night and we would bump it up to 4 hours so we ended up with a 2am feeding and a 6am feeding, then we were back onto 3 hours. That way the night feedings were manageable, we weren't up 8 times a night and this saved our sanity! If he got hungry in between the night feedings we would first offer a pacifier and usually this would get him to sleep for that extra hour, if not we would break the schedule and feed him and try again at the next feeding. After a day he was right on track.

At about 2-3 months babies "wake up," they start having a lot less sleeping time during the day and more play and awake time. This is where the schedule started really coming into play. We decided after reading dozens of books to combine a lot of techniques, but the one we really stuck to was the E.A.S.Y method. Eat time, Awake time, Sleep Time, You time. Essentially the point of this method is to interrupt the eating and sleeping cycle by putting awake time in between, this is to teach baby to fall asleep on their own instead of using a bottle and food to fall asleep. So we would start this method every morning when we'd get up. I would get his bottle or breastfeed and then we would play. From there I would watch his cues as well as the clock and then put him down for a nap.... and wash rinse repeat folks.

This is the schedule we are still on and it's wonderful. I also changed his routine at about 2 months to a 4 hour schedule with 5 hours at night until he was sleeping through the night (which was at about 2-3 months). Now the key to our schedule is the amount of wake time involved. This is something I wasn't sure about... I mean how long are they supposed to be awake for? I am sure it's a little different for each child and you can watch their cues to see how long it takes for them to start showing signs of being tired. I found a wonderful website (Chronicles of a Baby Wise Mom) that uses the Baby Wise techniques and it outlined a good guideline for awake times based on age. I used this guideline and also watched his cues which actually aligned exactly. We started with 1 hour of awake time and have gradually bumped the awake time up as he's gotten older, right now we're at 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Alright... what our typical day is... here you have it, this is literally what I write out for every family member that watches him and all they have to do is glance down to see what they're supposed to be doing... makes things much easier!

9:00 awake and 8 oz. bottle
11:00 down for nap
1:00 awake, 3-4 oz of baby food and 8 oz bottle
3:00 down for nap
5:00 awake, 3-4 oz of baby food and 8 oz bottle
7:00-8:00 down for night
9:00 dreamfeed* 8 oz bottle

*for the dreamfeed we keep HL as much asleep as possible, dim lights, no noise, and feed him his last bottle. He's barely awake for this feeding and goes immediately right back to sleep when he's done.

Pretty simple huh! Now I'm not a freak about it, if he doesn't fall asleep until 30 minutes after nap time, we live and if he skips a nap entirely.... we live... usually ;) But for the most part this is our day. Each day is a little different, if he wakes up at 10 instead of 9 we adjust the schedule for the day. Sometimes he will wake up an hour early from naps and that's fine. But this is what works for us.

I hope this gives some insight into a parent led schedule and our reasoning. So many of the philosophies on parent led parenting take a lot of heat for being detrimental to the baby's well being and teaching them not to trust the caregiver... I can't even tell you how much I disagree! Obviously HL is doin just fine, happy, thriving, and is much happier when we keep to his routine.

Recommended Reading: Like I said we consulted a million theories and ideas to come up with our "plan" for parenting. We use a lot of Baby Wise techniques and Baby Whisperer ideas. For sleep I like the book 12 Hours Sleep By 12 Weeks Old and there's a few others in the mix too. And definitely check out the baby wise blog mentioned above, it is AWESOME! Very easy to reference lots of info and I check back there frequently.


Heather said...

Yep, yep, yep! We did the same thing, and it's paid off quite well now that our oldest is 7 and we have two other kids besides her! I think, as you mentioned, it's setting the stage for later on in life. We decided from the get-go that WE are the ones in charge, and made sure each child knows that.

Jamie said...

How was this parent led thing working out for ya a few months ago when your son was a crying wreck? I think this post comes across as tad "high and mighty" for someone who posted about screaming at their child to "shut up" not too long ago.

ElleJay said...

Hmm... I don't recall a post about her screaming at her child to shut up... really?? I also don't see how trying to follow some sort of schedule everyday is considered "high and mighty"?

Jamie said...

The post about screaming shut up may have been on The Bump. I'm just saying that this post paints a picture of blissful days which are suppoesedly the result of a schedule that they have followed from the get go and it clearly wasn't working months ago.

Momma Maven said...

You're wrong, the schedule is and has always worked wonderfully for us, the screaming and 12 weeks of colic was a completely different issue. As I said the two are unrelated and I have made no "false" pictures of what it was like living with colic, it was pure hell and I've posted about it several times.

It wouldn't matter whether you are baby led or parent led with colic, your life is miserable plain and simple. But anyone who hasn't lived it wouldn't understand.

Jasmine said...

My first baby settled nicely from 8 weeks on Tizzie Hall's routines, my second baby however has been very hard to get into any schedule besides that of her own, so what works for one of your baby's may not work for your future kids. I'm finding the 2nd easier if I watch her and not the clock

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