My neighbor just said to me, "You guys have that baby already on a schedule. Good for you!" He's responding to our little guy's predictable 4:30 or 4:45 AM wake-up call. But it's a funny statement, because our philosophy has been to only respond to our baby's needs and not worry so much about the clock. This has, of course, been a luxury that will soon come to an end once I go back to work on Monday.
Don't get me wrong, the little guy's still the boss and we fully intend to let him tell us when he needs to be fed, changed, cuddled etc. but our responses will, to a certain degree, be within the context of a new and more carefully defined schedule.
So the question is, what will that schedule look like?
Fortunately, with the exception of my first two weeks back, I will be working a four-day work week through August. It makes for longer days, but the three-day weekend is an absolute God-send. Keeping that in mind I would like my Monday through Thursday routine to look something like this:
4:45 AM The little guys wakes up.
5:00 AM Nursing and play time.
6:00 AM The little guy's early morning nap w/ dad while mom practices yoga or goes for a swim.
7:00 AM Mom makes coffee, thaws frozen milk (for dad to use throughout the day), showers, gets ready for work, packs lunch, has breakfast.
7:45 AM Nursing.
8:00 AM Leave for the office to arrive between 8:15 and 8:30 AM.
Given that it is now 7:45 and I have managed to stick to this schedule (though I blogged instead of got ready for work) shows that it's doable. Good thing, my little guy is predictable in the mornings.
During the day, I expect I'll need to pump at least three times: at 8:15 AM, 1:00 PM and right before I leave for the day (around 5:30).
I'll have much less of schedule when I get home. Chris and I will have dinner together. Then he'll go to the gym, maybe write (this depends on how much he accomplished during the day.) There will be nights he'll go into the city to work, attend a reading, or play ball. There will also be nights I'll get home closer to 8 than 6, due to evening work events. These are few and far between but an important part of my job and non-negotiable. So, on those nights we'll just all need to be flexible.
In any case, the only thing I plan to maintain in the evenings is a bedtime routine. I'll nurse on demand once I get home, but when it's time for bed- we'll move into a slightly different mode. My approach (one for which I can't take credit, but rather have pieced together from friends, family and books) is Eat, Activity, Read and Sleep.
1. EAT: I'll nurse until he's full
2. ACTIVITY: We'll follow with a bath, if needed, and a baby massage (I sing "You are my sunshine" during his massage and he just coos. It's the sweetest thing ever.)
3. READ: We'll read a story, unless he's fussy in which case I'll probably rock him and sing lullabies.
I'll nurse on demand throughout the night. Right now, assuming he goes to bed full by 10:00 PM, the little guys wakes at about 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM.
So I know all the veteran mamas and papas are thinking, "She is up for a rude awakening." And you're right...these morning and evening routines are probably unrealistic. But they give us some semblance of structure which we need, especially as we transition into this next phase of parenthood.