I've been looking back through old posts from when Isis was little. I think it's no secret that we really loved the Babywise method and the idea of a consistent routine as we were helping Isis learn to soothe herself to sleep and learn to sleep through the night! I thought I'd give an update as to how this has played out in our lives throughout the last 2 1/2 years!
In 14 Steps to an Easy Baby, I shared several tips that worked really well for us. Of all of these, the idea of consistency and not setting up bad habits worked really well for us! We have been really consistent with Isis throughout her life. We really focus on intentional parenting, whether that's sleep schedules, daily routines, feeding practices, discipline, etc. I want to post more about this later, but as far as sleep and routine stuff goes, it has worked out extremely well as far as our family goes.
Why we used a Routine
Some families don't thrive under a consistent routine. Some families enjoy being on the go fairly regularly and really flexible with their evenings and mornings. After my last couple of years of parenting experience, I think that it is most important to go with what works for you. If that works for you, then it's absolutely what you need to do. But for us, we thrive under a routine. Lewis and I both do really well knowing what to expect from our day and our week. We have no trouble having routines that look about the same every day. I think it helps us both stay calm and focused so that we can best maneuver the natural changes that are going to come with just having a baby or a toddler in the home. Isis' mood and temper can change in a short amount of time, so knowing that the larger perspective of the day is going to stay the same, helps us to feel better about those smaller issues that come up unexpectedly.
How she adjusted as she got older
I posted a lot on Schedules and Sleep Training as well. I feel like this chronicles how I took cues from her to know when to stretch her schedule and when to drop naps and things like that. What I found as Isis got older is that she started to also know what to expect from her day and that it really worked. When she was really able to talk, closer to 18 months or so. She would start to tell me that it was nap time around noon and she would go lay her head on the bottom step, ready to go upstairs. It has rarely been a fight or a struggle to get her to take a nap or to go to bed. She would also tell me when it was time to eat.
I think a lot of the stuff about the routines has to do with metabolism. It's similar to us as adults. If we are having trouble sleeping at night, do any research at all or talk to your doctor and you'll find that they suggest that you start to go to bed about the same time every night and you try to get up about the same time each morning so that you train your metabolism and your internal clock to be ready to sleep about the same time every day. At school during the school year, I would eat breakfast & lunch about the same time every day and you start to find in the summer that you're still getting hungry around that schedule because your metabolism adjusts to it. It's the same for kids in my opinion. I think Isis' body just got used to that routine.
Dealing with Changes
A lot of people may ask or argue that being that structured can make it difficult to adjust to changes in your schedule, but I've actually found the opposite to be true. Because we have been so consistent, Isis knows that we'll get back to that even if we have to be off for a day or two. For example, if we go to lunch later than normal and she's off by like an hour or so for her nap one day, she knows that the nap is coming and she is pretty adaptable and okay with waiting because she knows what to expect from me. She knows that even if we're pushing something back a little that it's still coming. It's almost like she just knows to trust us now because we've been so consistent.
What about baby #2?
Now, I am in no way saying that this is the only way to parent or the only way to set up your day or your routine. I have friends that have not used a schedule or routine and they are just as happy with the outcome of their decisions because it is what works for their families. I'm just saying that with all my posts and my focus on it in the past, it was time to share an update. In my experience, if you were to choose this method, it would absolutely work! My next child will be different and I know that. Personalities are different, my schedule is different than it was then, I'll have 2 rather than 1, etc. But I found that it was easy to learn how to read Isis' cues and I'll be able to do the same thing with this next baby. That means that the new baby's routine each day may look a little different than Isis' did. Maybe she'll be a 10 hour a night sleeper rather than the 12 hour a night sleeper that Isis was. Maybe I'll have to adjust things for her specific needs and temperament, but I will still focus on being consistent and routined because that is what works for my family.
You can probably expect that I'll be sharing my experiences this time as well!