Always have been.
I like having a set schedule. For everything. My day to day. My work. My vacations.
I live for routine.
On a daily basis at work I make lists for myself. On a weekend basis I have a list that I add to and cross stuff off of. For example, on my weekend list "Vacuum out the car" has been on there for nearly two months. I finally crossed that off on Friday.
When we got pregnant with Caderyn, I was terrified about not being able to establish a routine.
And then, in my 8th month of pregnancy, someone introduced me to a book called, "Babywise."
This book explains the importance of routine and walks you through an easy to follow system for getting your baby on routine and sleeping longer spurts at night.
This book is what really helped me, a person who lives for routine, maintain and adapt to being a new parent.
Now, this isn't how everyone does it--and that's okay! I actually tried to follow their example schedule EXACTLY and ended up having to modify it a bit to make it my own.
That's okay too. This is just a rough schedule for you to follow and make your own.
I don't think I would be where I am today without this schedule. I might have lost my mind.
To basically sum this whole book up: Babywise emphasizes parent-led scheduling to set a routine for your child. Your child will be happier knowing what to expect, they will also be happier and more adaptable when you do go off schedule. You will be happier because you have a set routine and are probably getting more sleep than you expected. Parents decide when baby eats (to a point), is awake and then goes down for a nap/bed while still awake.
This helps to establish the routine and also teaches the child to self soothe.
Here is an example of my newborn schedule with Gabriel:
6:00 a.m.: Nurse 30-45 minutes. He goes back down until 8:00 a.m.
8:00 a.m.: Nurse 30-45 minutes.
8:30-9:30/9:45: Awake and play time.
10:00 a.m.: Change diaper, swaddle, snuggle and put baby down awake for nap with some sort of music, fan, or another soother.
12:00: p.m. Up from nap, nurse for 30-45 minutes
12:30 p.m.-1:30/1:45 p.m.: Awake and play time
2:00 p.m.: Change diaper, swaddle, snuggle and put baby down awake for nap.
4:00 p.m. Nurse 30-45 minutes
4:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Awake and play time
6:00 p.m. Bathe baby and get ready for bed and nurse baby for 30 minutes to an hour
6:45/7:00 p.m.: Put baby down for night
Gabriel would always wake up sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. to nurse again. He would be put right back to bed after nursing and sleep until 6:00 a.m.
Now, this changes as your children grow.
Caderyn was very easy to put on a routine and started sleeping through the night at 6-months.
Gabriel is a little bit more stubborn. Sometimes he sleeps through the night while other nights he still gets up for a bottle.
His routine looks like this now, as of April 30, 2013:
7:00 a.m. Awake, diaper change and breakfast
7:30-9:30 a.m.: Get dressed and ready for day, play, go to daycare, play
9:30-11:00 a.m.: Nap time
11:00 a.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m-3:30/4:00 p.m.: Nap
4:00 p.m. Bottle
415-5:30: Pick up from daycare, get home and snuggle
5:30 p.m.: Dinner
6:00-7:00 p.m. Bath, play, get ready for bed
7:00 p.m. Bottle
Last night Gib got up at 2:00 a.m. for a bottle and needed a diaper change.
Now some things to add to this:
*This schedule might seem rigid to some people, but as any parent should know, nothing really ever goes as planned. It is just nice to have it established. I would say 5 out of the 7 days of the week we hit our schedule pretty dead on.
*When I nursed my kids, they only wanted to stay on about 30-45 minutes. Other people may find they need more or less time. Again--adaptable!
*It is important to really use that awake time to try and keep your child awake. Play with them. Talk to them. Hold them. Run errands with them. Just about anything you can do will work, as long as you are bonding.
*Do some sort of routine that you keep the same in prep for bed. We always change Gib's diaper and snuggle him for a few minutes with the lights off before we put him in his bed. This helps him recognize that it is time to sleep.
*Do try to put your baby into their bed while awake. This will help them self soothe.
*Do try to have some sort of bedtime music, a fan, or a blanket that they can identify with bedtime We use a fan and a special soft blanket.
*Do not think that this is crazy. It's not, it works for me and I get compliments from people all the time about how easy my kids are to baby-sit or have over to stay the night (thank you grandparents!). I usually write out a schedule for people and they always say how my kids stuck to that schedule and were very predictable because of it.
*Do not think you have to use this schedule. No, not at all! This is just something I wanted to put out there for people to see. I know mothers who don't put their children down until 9:00 p.m. I know mothers who rock their children to sleep. I know mothers who co-sleep. I know mothers who practice the baby-led scheduling where they try to listen to the baby's cues to tell the parents what is needed.
Whatever you decide, will be best for you.