Littlest is 7 months old now and a small level of predictability is beginning to return to the rhythm of life we currently jive to. Treading water with the housework, meal planning, work, cooking and quality time with the kids and Danny has been really hard the last half a year, harder than when Biggest shook up our lives as a baby. There were at least some rest stops back then (rest stops we didn’t appreciate at the time at all, of course, but rest stops all the same), like being able to nap during the day if I wanted to and sitting in silence while she napped. Biggest doesn’t nap anymore, so the day is 100mph from waking to sleeping.
I took some time last week to take stock of where life is at right now and what gentle routines I could reintroduce that weren’t just the baby’s sleep times and nursing times. Prior to implementing the following morning routine, the entire day had been a full on WING. I can wing it as often as I need to, but I personally don’t really like to. I like a plan to follow and to know what’s coming next.
When I was childless I loved scheduling stuff. I mostly organised my days using the time-boxing technique (or, at least, I liked to THINK I organised my days, I still found plenty of unscheduled 3-hour slots at the weekend for the sole purpose of inhaling books. *longing sigh*) but as a mum, having a schedule stresses me out to the point of anxiety. It’s almost impossible to parent in the way I truly want to and run a tight schedule at the same time. So I jacked the scheduling attempts in and switched to routines instead.
The difference between a schedule and a routine is that a routine is not bound so strictly to what time the clock reads. With schedules, your day depends on getting each task completed by a certain time. Sometimes, if a task isn’t completed on time it has potential to screw up the entire day’s plans if you based the rest of the tasks on that original one being ticked off. Instead, with routines, there is an awareness of the time, but much more than that is a focus on following the pattern of tasks you set out in the routine in a consistent and predictable way.
Here’s what our current SAHM (I’m actually a WAHM but I work in the evenings) morning routine looks like with my 3-year-old toddler and 7 -month-old baby. The times are, of course, flexible:
5:00 am – Littlest has a big sleepy milk feed and dozes back off. I can’t be certain of the time because we bedshare and side-by-side breastfeed, so I don’t fully wake up.
6:00 am – Wake up (or rather, am awoken). Chat to the girls for a bit.
6:20 am – I make breakfast. I have a lemon water on an empty stomach to start the day while preparing it.
6:30 am – We eat breakfast together.
7:15 am – The girls have nappy-free time and play and chat while I wash up the breakfast things (*sobs* for non-existent dishwasher). I usually put a load of laundry on at this point, too.
7:35 am – We all go and brush our teeth and get dressed for the day.
8:15 am – Littlest goes in the sling and I bounce on the gym ball for her nap. When she’s asleep Biggest and I role-play with her animal figures.
I should mention that this routine is with just me and the girls. On work days, Danny has normally left before I start our breakfasts. On the days he’s at home I’m seriously lazy with the routine and then everything goes to pot – I usually end up with the entire day’s dishes to do at the end of the day, amongst other things (let’s just blame him! Hee hee! ;))!
This routine will undoubtedly change as Littlest gets older. We go out most days of the week, but I always like to get her first nap in at home first, as sort of, nap insurance, I guess. She doesn’t fall asleep easily out and about for that first one and then that messes up the rest of the day’s (and night’s!) sleep.
Do you have a morning routine? What happens when you don’t stick to it? Does it affect your day much?
Look out for my evening routine post coming soon!