In my last post, I talked about how the E.A.S.Y routine, combined with the 4 hour schedule, were GAME-CHANGERS for us. In this post, I’m going to talk about HOW we implemented it and what a typical day looks like for us.
But first, my usual preamble…
As mentioned in part 1, now that we are the 6 month mark, we look back on the first few months and they don’t really seem THAT BAD, but honestly, they were. Now that Jason is 6+ months old, people are starting to ask the question, “So…when’s the next one coming?” and HONESTLY, I would deal with pregnancy and birth again in a heartbeat (okay, maybe not that quickly), but NOT the first couple months following. I feel like we are taught to prepare (mentally, emotionally, physically) for the pregnancy/ birth but NO ONE ever talks about the first few weeks post-partum. BUT even if they did, I don’t think you really, REALLY get it, until you go through it. I don’t think anyone could’ve prepared me for that exhaustion. David and I would wake up and go, “I think I slept 2/3 hours last night (broken up). How much sleep did you get?” It gave David and I SUCHHHH an appreciation for our support system, but also for single moms and moms of multiples, because I can’t even imagine! But I guess, with anything, you just go into survival mode and handle it. So, when people ask me the question, I just chuckle and say, “not for a little while…”
But anyways, that exhaustion (combined with my type-A personality) pushed me to find a schedule that would work for us when the time came to start sleep training, etc.
So sleep training…
David and I decided really early on, that we would not be co-sleepers. I know this is a controversial topic and I personally have nothing against it. I just knew that it would fit our life better to have Jason sleep separately from us. Also, I knew that if we co-slept, I would never be able to sleep properly because I’d always be super, super afraid of me or David rolling on him.
So, except for some REALLY desperate times in the early days, Jason never came into bed with us. From Day 1, Jason slept in a bassinet beside our bed. And around 3.5 months (upon David’s request), we moved Jason into his own crib/ room. This was huge for us, and allowed both us and Baby J to sleep more soundly. Also, while in the first couple months, Jason would pretty much nap anywhere around our house: the bassinet, the sofa, the swing, etc., soon after we moved him into his crib for night sleeping, we also made an effort to make sure he napped in his crib whenever he could, (that is, unless we were out and about, running errands, etc.) because Google said so.
So here we go…
A typical, IDEAL day for us (between 5-6 months) looks like this:
(Note: we started to implement this schedule around the 4ish month mark, but Jason’s naps were very sporadic at the time, and are now just starting to consolidate, so this schedule started to really “work” around the 5ish month mark. AND I’m sure that JUST as Jason really get’s the hang of it, it’ll time to transition to a new schedule, once again)
6:30/7:00am: Wake up
7:30am: Breakfast (baby cereal combined with vegetable and fruit puree), followed by an 8 oz. bottle.
Then we get Jason changed/ ready for the day.
8:30am/9:00am: Nap #1 (approx. 60-75 minutes)
When Jason wakes up, we play and/ or run errands.
(11:00am: Jason sometimes falls asleep here while we are out and about if he woke up too early from nap #1)
11:30am: 8 oz. bottle
1:30pm/2:00pm: Nap #2 (30-45 minutes)
Play time/ errands when he wakes
3:30pm: 8 oz. bottle
5:00pm: Catnap (30 minutes)
6:00/6:30pm: Dinner (baby cereal with vegetable/ fruit puree)
7:15pm: Bedtime routine, followed by 8 oz. bottle, then straight to bed
While this is IDEAL, this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, we have errands to run, or appointments to make and sometimes, Jason is just not havin’ it. And as you can see, there are many time windows/ variants to our “typical” day, with things changing depending on Jason’s naps. Our feed times are quiet rigid, but I have LEARNED to be more flexible with naps, as I have read that naps tend to consolidate and sort themselves out as babies get older. At this age, Jason can stay up anywhere from 2-2.5 hours (3 if we are really pushing it…but he get’s cranky) at a time, and then we put him down for another nap.
With that being said, while I am sort of “flex” with his napTIMES, we are quite rigid with his feed times and also nap/ bedtime routines, which is something we started right from the beginning of sleep training. I read somewhere that babies love routine as much as parents do, so we made sure we set up a good routine for Jason’s naps and bedtimes.
BUT, before I jump into our routine, disclaimer time! You will see below that we use the ever so controversial “cry it out” method. (Seriously, why are there so many controversial topics when it comes to raising kids??) It worked for us, but I know it is not for everybody. Okay, carry on…
Jason’s sleep routines are as follows:
For bedtime, we do the 4 B’s: bath, book, bottle, bed
For naptimes, we do a condensed version with 2 B’s: book, bed
(there is no bottle for naptime, because like I mentioned in the part 1, we follow the E.A.S.Y routine, where Jason eats, then plays, then sleeps)
For naptime: after a story, we turn on Jason’s sleep sheep (that plays music/ white noise) and rock him for a few minutes, put him down in his crib, shush and pat his bum for a few more minutes and walk out of the room. Sometimes, this is all he needs, but sometimes, he fights his naps HARD. When he is being “difficult”, I still put him down and walk out. I let him cry for 5 minutes, come back in and replace his soother, pat and shush for a couple minutes, then walk back out. If he still still crying, I wait 10 minutes and repeat (sometimes, I give in and go in before 10 minutes). But, with that being said, I don’t always follow these rules when I can SEE that he is SO close to falling asleep during the rocking. When this happens, I just rock him to sleep then put him down, pat and shush, stop the patting but continue shushing as I slowly back out of the room. (I call this the “fade out” routine.)
For bedtime: Jason has a bottle last and goes straight into his crib with no rocking or patting and shushing. We turn off his night light and walk out of the room. We often hear him talking in there for 15 minutes or so, and then he falls asleep on his own. David is usually responsible for bedtimes, and he told me he chose that one because a) he is home and b) it is the easiest one, haha. Once Jason stopped needing to eat in the middle of the night, he would still often wake 2-3 times a night and cry out for us. We often waited a few minutes before going in there, and sometimes he would fall back asleep on his own. If he didn’t, we would go in and replace his soother, pat and shush for a few minutes, and walk back out. We repeat the 5/ 10 minute routine as mentioned above. Now, unless he is teething or sick, or has a tough nap day, Jason rarely wakes up at night, at all. It’s really just been the last couple weeks that this has been the case, but as I mentioned in part 1, Jason pretty much started sleeping through the night around 4ish months, so hurrah, hurrah for sleep training!! (While I 100% recommend schedules and sleep training, etc., I know it is not guaranteed success. I know that there are parents who have tried EVERYTHING with no success, so we are counting are blessings that Jason has been cooperative to all our experimenting.)
And don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t always been rainbows and unicorns over here! While Jason is a good night sleeper, naps were (and are) a challenge for us. (I keep saying, though, that this combo. is totally fine with me, rather than the opposite!) But, we are keeping at our routines and hoping that one of these days, it’ll sort itself out. Again, I know, it’s shocking that I am so zen about this, which is so unlike me!! Why, you ask? Well, there was a large chunk of time when Jason would catnap throughout the day. Jason would, I kid you not, nap 32 minutes, on the dot. EVERY. TIME. It drove me insane because I knew he COULD/ SHOULD be sleeping for an hour+. I tried everything that Google told me to do: “pick up, and put down”, “cry it out” (which is what we ended up using in the end), and a thing that might not have a name but involves you going into the room RIGHT before he is about to wake and touching their face/ foot ever so lightly so that they JUST slightly rouse from the sleep cycle and fall into a deeper sleep. I would sit at the foot of the bed and wait for the 20ish minute mark, and ever so slightly stroke his cheek, then hold my breath for 12 minutes. Aaaannnnd, nope, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 32 minutes. I spent more time trying to put him down, than he spent asleep. I tried this for a week and gave up. Nowadays, if Jason wakes too early from a nap, I try and get him back to sleep for about 5-10 minutes, if it doesn’t work, I give up. I figure, if 10 minutes doesn’t do it, there’s no point. Plus, now at 6+ months, Jason is STRONG and hard to contain when he is wriggling, wriggling away and I just save us both the grief and eventually give up if he isn’t cooperating. It has made us both a lot happier, lol.
I should mention that while I am at this point now, it took me a WHILE to get to this point of being able to accept “defeat” and being okay with it. As you can now probably tell, I thrive on things according to schedule/ plan. (Seriously, the first time my in-laws babysat for me, I wrote them 4 pages on Jason’s bedtime routine, Jason’s overnight routine, Jason’s nap routine, and Jason’s eating routine. Bless them, for not laughing in my face, and telling me, “you know we’ve done this before, right?” BUT David’s dad did tell me, on our way out the door, that if I had an addendum, I shouldn’t hesitate to send it their way.)
But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the whole scheduling experience, it’s that we have to remember that a baby is a PERSON just like us, they have good days and bad days, where they don’t feel well or just wake up in a cranky mood. (I didn’t come up with this genius, I read it somewhere. Off Google, of course.) So when we have a tough day, and I find myself getting frustrated that things aren’t going according to plan, I make an effort to remind myself to show grace to Jason, and to myself, and remember that tomorrow is a NEW day.
Actually, I’ve also learned while there are tons of controversial topics with baby-raising (ie. CIO, co-sleeping, holding baby for naps, rocking baby to sleep vs. not, etc.) things are only a problem, if YOU think they are, not if someone else thinks they are. As in, if YOU have no problem rocking baby to sleep every time, or sharing your bed with baby, then it AIN’T a problem!
You see, guys, I feel like I have matured and come a long way since that crazy lady with all the instructions. I mean, come on, I only send 3 pages now….