Ma Wednesday! The routine of scheduled randomness.

A lot of new mothers (especially the horribly anxious first- timers) stress on “routines” for their bubs. I have read about how it is best to “get them on a schedule” early on. Every forum I visit, has half a dozen queries everyday on how to get a 10 day old, or a 4 week old newborn on a schedule.

One Mama is worried because her baby sleeps too much. One’s wailing because her little one nurses for too long. One is near breakdown because her bub does not nurse for more than five minutes at a time, and she has been “told” that most babies nurse for an average of 20 minutes- on each breast! Some believe their baby has to poop five times a day, some medicate their newborn if they don’t go “poo poo” for a couple of days. Spit- up, diaper changes, duration/ times of sleep, nursing, cooing, smiling …everything is contentious. And in every forum, there are miracle babies who fit into every mould of ideal-ness and followed exceptionally planned out schedules!  😦

I realized very early on that these schedule related posts and forums are not for me; mostly because my little one seemed to be an expert rule- breaker on all accounts. She slept randomly, nursed at odd intervals and for hardly a couple of minutes each time, pooped maybe once a week, smiled a lot and slept very little (even as a newborn).

I did try during the early days, to get her to nurse at certain intervals, or to sleep at set times. She seemed very resistant. The more I stressed about it, the harder it got. Argh, damn all those forum- moms who had perfect, little babies with perfect little routines!

I find it hard to wake up at the same time every morning (even with the strategically timed, sequential, anti- snooze, multi- alarm system that I use). I also find it incredibly difficult to go to bed early. I eat when I am hungry. If busy, I can stay focused and alert without as much as a sip of water for over 16 hours; while sometimes I can get ravenously hungry, unstably hypoglycemic in three hours. I will sometimes eat one banana and head to work, and then there are days when I have tea, biscuits, toast, bowl of fruits, muffin and milk for breakfast. I am often moody and sometimes willfully  irritable. I whine and laugh without preamble. And there is nothing, absolutely zilch that I can do to change any of this. I am who I am. And I am grown woman.

If a grown woman cannot be “scheduled” into submission, how can I expect my brand new, tiny, helpless, scared human to accede to my pre- determined notion of when, what and how she should be?

I am not sitting on my high horse and passing judgement on parents/ mothers who work incredibly hard to get their newborns into a routine. Yes, routines are great things to have in one’s life. They can make you productive and they make life easier to plan because of their inherent predictability. Therefore, if you are a super Mama who has managed the miracle of getting your “routine’ down; then bravo my friend! I envy you. Well, almost…

Zoe has a routine too. She sleeps at night, wakes up in the morning. She has a bath and three meals a day. Two power- naps break the day down into three intervals. And there ends her routine. The times are exceedingly variable. Nursing (once I come back from work) is still on demand. Meals are eaten when she is hungry (and she lets us know when that happens!). Bed time is when she shows signs that she is ready to sleep. Nap times and duration are variable. Even at eleven months old, she seems to have my mien when it comes to forceful imposition- it’s either my way or NO WAY honey! And so I let her be. I nudge her, and gently cajole her; I do not impose. She has slowly determined what works best for  her and has settled into her own little “routine” (if I even dare call it so!). I have learnt to work around it.

If order is the key to productivity, then I believe chaos is oftentimes the precursor of creativity. The one benefit of not having a strict, time based routine is flexibility. It is easier to travel and she is more accommodating to new surroundings. She does not get overtly cranky if food- time or nap- time is off by a couple of hours. Honestly though, it’s The Hubsy that I have to thank. He is the one who suggested that maybe Zoe isn’t the “routine” type. He is the laid- back, let’s- cross- the- bridge- when- we- have- to sort of parent. And it balances my over- intense, over- thought out style of parenting. Letting go of the schedule obsession had made my life so much easier. And Zoe seems to be better for it.

So yes, if you are bedraggled, new Mum who is just not able to get her little one to eat or sleep at certain times; do not fret friend. There is hope for you yet. Cut your little one some slack and stop boxing them into schedules and stereotypes. Some of us are more conducive to order and convention while others prefer the flexibility and unpredictable fun of ordered chaos!

Till next time..

Dr J.

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