The remarkable change from chaos to calm …
When DamBaby (DB) was six weeks old, I spent one day recording her daily ‘routine’ in detail. Six weeks later I’ve repeated the exercise. It’s hugely satisfying to see the progress from those early weeks of madness.
1.30 I’m woken by some chirping noises coming from DB’s co-sleeper. I steal a glance at the time on my phone under the bedcovers. Only 2.5 hours since the last feed. I can happily ignore these noises and go back to sleep.
4.00 I’m woken again by chirping noises. Five hours since the last feed. That’s more like it! I feed her, get up and do a swift nappy change (which these days only involves unzipping the side of her sleeping bag), then finish the feed with the stealth of a ninja. She’s back in the co-sleeper and my head’s on the pillow by 4.30.
7.30 We’re all woken by my husband’s alarm clock. He showers first. I get the bouncy chair ready, so DB can happily sit in the bathroom with me while I shower, with the added bonus of unblocking her perma-stuffy nose. Realise she’s done a giant poo. Wonder when that happened. Pass that bomb to the husband as he’s still here.
8.00 Her breakfast feed, then get her dressed and ready for the day. Lights are on, full-volume chatting – it’s officially a new day. We play – wiggle on her back, sing songs, play with toys.
9,00 After the second part of her feed, she immediately falls asleep. She’s a regular morning snoozer. I settle her on the union jack cushion that’s become her regular daytime nap spot, cover with a blanket, and enjoy the ‘me’ time that follows.
10.50 I realise she’s been napping for nearly two hours, plus we need to leave the house at 11.30 for a lunch date. I wake her up for a feed. She’s unimpressed at being woken – but nothing a feed won’t fix. A nappy change and a swift play and it’s time to get into her pram suit and head out.
12.15 She falls asleep in the pram, snoozing through the tram journey to lunch, all through lunch, and through the tram journey home. This is turning into a big sleeping day.
14.00 Back home again, with guilt about sleeping levels, I decide to keep her awake as much of the afternoon as possible until bedtime. We feed, play, she laughs at the assortment of animal noises I make at her, we sing songs from the radio.
15.45 In the midst of my ‘daily energy dip’ (1500-1800 is a bad time for me) we head out for an afternoon walk in the pram. DB has a light snooze. “Great,” I think, “I’ll just dash around the supermarket with her.” She wakes the moment we enter the supermarket. How do they know?! It’s a race against time to throw things in a basket before the inevitable crying starts. She times it perfectly for the check-out queue. I do my best to pretend all is fine and normal, then sprint home with shopping and still-crying baby. A neighbour with son crying in pushchair looks at me in sympathy: “they’re all crashing at the end of the day.”
16.30 Cuddle the crying to a halt. Realise her next feed (based on our new attempts at a ’semi-routine’) will be at 18.00. That’s 1.5 hours away. Gah! I can do this. More playtime. Make her cry attempting tummy time. Discover a mesmerizing YouTube video for babies which entrances her for 15 minutes. Hurrah for YouTube!
17.50 That’s close enough to 18.00. Feed time.
18.15 Husband comes back from work earlier than expected just in time for some evening play. She beams at him, like he’s the best thing since … well, probably not sliced bread … more likely, warm milk.
19.00 It’s not bath night (we don’t bath her every single night) but to keep some semblance of evening bedtime routine we take her upstairs for a body wash, massage with baby oil, and put her into her pyjamas and sleeping bag. We bring her back downstairs for the final feed of the evening and some gentle playtime.
20.00 While I Skype my Mum, husband disappears to put DB to bed upstairs. He comes back down minutes later. Success.
20.15 We’re just about to start dinner – at a table, with a glass of wine no less – when the baby monitor shoots up to ‘two blue lights’, baby awake level. Boo. Husband and I enter our usual debate about ‘crying it out’. I’m comfortable leaving her for two minutes. He favours 10. In the time we spend arguing about it, she more or less settles herself. Hurrah!
21.00 Dinner finished, we’re relaxed in front of the TV with chocolate, DB is still asleep upstairs and the world is good.
22.45 We head up to bed, making just enough noise to deliberately wake her up for her night feed and a top speed nappy change. Lights off, back into her co-sleeper, and we’re all snoring by 23.15. It’s been another good day.