I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with routines.
When my first son was born, we instigated a bedtime routine from just a few days old. I regret it immensely. It didn’t help him sleep (not until he was a few months old anyway), and it robbed us of the Portable Baby stage – sorry Gran, we can’t come to your birthday party, it’s past Monkey’s bedtime. Apologies, mother-in-law, we can’t come for roast dinner on Sunday evening lest we mess up The Routine. Even though I could see it was making us all miserable, I dared not ditch it for fear of his sleeping habits becoming even worse than they already were. I wish I could have given myself a good shake, and reminded myself to just relax and enjoy his first couple of months without stressing over a schedule.
So, when I discovered that we were expecting Squish, we made a vow to skip the routines altogether, and let him follow his own night-time rhythm.
For a while, this approach was perfect for us. I mean, he doesn’t sleep much, but I never attributed that to his lack of routine. And you know, even if it was down to that, it was a reasonable trade-off. I have adored the freedom of just being able to pop him in the sling and go out in the evening – to a friend’s house, out for a meal, to Slimming World meetings…
However, at 6 months old, I am sorry to admit that the 24/7 freedom of the Portable Baby Stage is now over. We have implemented a loosely structured bedtime routine, based on his natural rhythms. It’s nothing special or fancy; we get both boys washed and ready for bed at 7, then we read a story, sing a song, and finally nurse/cuddle/rock to sleep before placing him in the sidecar cot, ninja-style so as not to wake him.
And you know what? It’s working.
Last night was night 2 of Operation Bedtime Routine, and for the first time since the sleepy newborn days, I managed to get him down for the night by 9:30pm – and he stayed asleep until 1:30am. I couldn’t quite believe it.
Do I regret not implementing a routine sooner? Absolutely not. I have loved having him downstairs with us in the evenings, and in all honesty I miss him – even though it’s nice to be able to talk above a whisper. We have truly enjoyed those fleeting Baby Days, and I feel sad that we didn’t do the same with Monkey. Sigh. We live and learn.
And now we are moving into the next exciting stage. This was the right time to implement a bedtime routine, especially as I am forced to return to my evening job in just two short months (sob).
What is your bedtime routine? Was it something that your baby instigated, or was it a joint effort?