“Once you get into a routine you’ll be grand.”
No parental phrase was ever truer spoken.
Pre-bambino I wasn’t a big fan of routines.They spelled boring. Predictability. Someone with no sense of adventure in their life. Post bambino, I live for routines. They create sanity. They bring peace. And that is why it’s so upsetting when baby changes routine. Again.
Lack of routine is probably what makes the first few weeks with a newborn the hardest. There’s no time schedule or predictable moment of the day or night. It all rolls into one. You’re feeding at 4am, you’re feeding at 4pm. You could be asleep at 5am or getting up at 5am. Faintly, you try to keep some parts of your old life schedule, like putting on pajamas at night time. But there are days you decide there isn’t really a need for you or baby to get dressed. Day is night. Because there is no routine.
Then after maybe 10 weeks or so you begin to notice some patterns. Small at first, a few gaps at a time, or a certain time of the night when baby wakens. Gradually these timescales roll out and all of sudden – you’ve got a routine!
Our first routine involved an 11.30pm bedtime followed by a 4am feed. It was a godsend. Over four hours of sleep. Together! It came right at the time when I felt I may lose my marbles. And like a good baby, she stuck to it, even pushing it out so Mammy got some longer sleeping spells.
At three months she began sleeping through the night, more or less. I felt like the best mother in the world. This parenting shit wasn’t so bad after all. Because I was getting sleep I could cope with anything. And then she hit four months. And began wakening through the night again.
It seems no routine is ever sacred. They may last for a few weeks, months even, and you are lulled into a false sense of sleepy predictability. But as the baby enters a new phase – growth, teething, crawling – the schedule you have grown so used to, begins again, usually for the worst.
We had been operating a lovely schedule up till two weeks ago. It involved a small dream feed at midnight followed by seven hours of blissful sleep. After her morning feed, she would go back for another hour or two. But no longer. Not on your nelly. Now we can waken at 4am, 5am, 6am and absolutely no going back to sleep. Or taking the dummy. Or doing anything that baby used to do before. We’re on her time now and we can only cope as parents, willing her to develop some sort of morning exhaustion like we are suffering.
One thing you will find yourself doing as a parent is telling everyone about baby’s routine. When family or strangers enquire as to baby’s health, you will list their exact timetable, in a big splurge of one way conversation. Sometimes after a recounting of a number of notable timestops we had last night, I’ll notice the glaze in the person’s eyes and try to stop myself from waffling on.
You see, routines are boring. Noone cares what time baby woke at or how many hours of sleep you got. People only care about that if you have a good story behind it. Like getting two hours sleep because you were dancing naked on a table top, or watching the sun rise on a beach opening beer bottles with your teeth. Which I think I have been dreaming about. In my three hours of sleep. Between 3am and 6am. Did I tell you I only got three hours of sleep last night?