Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Why Having No Routine Works For Us....

Before I had Tyne, I thought I would be a different kind of Mum.

Having spent years working as a private nanny and in nursery settings, I was very aware of routines and how much parents and childcare settings swore by them.

I assumed that I too would follow a routine once my son arrived.

I remember reading some Gina Ford books when I was pregnant...they were recommended to me by a few people including family members....I remember that being where I first started to doubt myself.

Reading through the "contented little baby book" I found myself more and more uncomfortable with the suggested practices.

The main sticking point for me was that the books seemed to encourage parents not to hold their baby "too much"....this was something echoed to me by friends who swore by these books...."Oh definitely not, you don't want to sit holding the baby all evening'll just get too used to need to put it down and let it get used to being alone" they'd say.

This was when I started to realise that I wasn't going to be following in the parenting footsteps of my friends or Gina Ford.

I had every intention of holding and cuddling my baby whenever I wanted to, and most likely for around 90% of the day.

When the baby arrived, I found that my instincts had been right.

I did cuddle my baby. A lot. All the time infact.

All day and evening long, if he was awake....he was in someones arms. 

And a lot of the time he was held while he was napping too.

I absolutely didn't care what anybody thought about this.....he was MY baby and I wanted to cuddle him.

Of course I heard all of the warnings of how I'd regret it and I was making a rod for my own back.

When you become a parent one of the first skills you need to develop is how to tune out the unwanted advice and tales of woe of those around you, because nothing will stop them from dishing it out.

Once Tyne got a bit older, the focus shifted more to "routine".

Those I knew who had babies around the same time as me were almost all settling into routines....bedtimes, bathtimes, feed times, counting how many times baby would wake in the night, etc.

I noticed that other friends with new babies seemed to all have their 5 month old babies settling down for bed at 6.30, whereas Tyne at that age didn't usually go down for the night until 10pm.

People questioned me on this a lot.

I remember a girl on Instagram with a baby the same age as mine saying...

"But you mustn't get any alone time"....and...."He needs to learn to sleep at sensible times, what about when he's older and he needs to get up for school?"

I always found these comments to be, frankly, ridiculous.

I don't understand why people so often compare babies under the age of 2 to school age awful lot changes in that time, and I don't believe that the sleep patterns they form as babies stays with them into childhood.

I also don't believe that dealing with a school age child who has the ability to talk and understand what you are telling them, is at ALL the same thing as dealing with a baby who cannot understand your reasoning and just knows that they are upset and they want to be comforted.

So I ignored people's opinions, and carried on doing what I felt was right....Tyne continued to go to bed at around 10pm, which is when he seemed to get tired. 
He would fall asleep in our arms downstairs and be carried up to bed.

Whenever he woke up in the night, we would feed him and cuddle him back to sleep.

Another thing I came under fire for....I shouldn't encourage this kind of behaviour apparently, I'll make him too dependent on me.

Well, Tyne is now 2 years old.

We have never, ever followed a routine with him.

The only element of routine to his day is that his mealtimes are at the same time.

Naps happen when and if they happen.....if hes sleepy, he takes one at whatever time of day that happens to be.

If he's not, he doesn't.

Most of the time these days, he doesn't nap - this has been the case since he was 11 months old.

No matter whether he naps or not, he gets sleepy at around 7.30 pm. 

He has supper, and goes to bed around 8pm.

He never wakes in the night anymore.

He never needs to come to us for cuddles back to sleep.

None of the things I was warned about have happened.

We don't lose out on any of our evening....we are more than happy for him to be downstairs with us until he goes to bed around 8, we stay up LATE anyway so there is plenty of "alone time" left for us (We are NEVER in bed before 1 am), and once he's asleep...he stays asleep.

Having no set routine and allowing him to sleep when he's tired has worked well for us.

I personally don't enjoy having to stick to a set routine in my own life, so I don't see why I would impose one on a baby.

In my opinion, a baby is not an animal who needs to be trained as we see fit. They are people with feelings and emotions, and I want to always be sure that my child feels comforted and supported by me....not dictated to or ruled by me. 

Of course when a child is older this becomes a little I`ve said before, older children can be reasoned with, things can be explained to them....but in my opinion a baby needs comfort first and foremost. 

If that means I have to spend a little longer with some later nights and cuddling them back to sleep, that is just fine by me.

I feel that there have been MANY plus points to not having a set routine....

*We have freedom - he doesn't NEED to be in bed by a certain time to function. If we have to be out later than his usual bedtime, he handles it perfectly. He simply goes to bed a little later that night. He doesn't seem to notice or mind. 

*His naptimes don't rule our day - they happen when and if they happen. He happily naps in the car and wakes up just fine if he needs one. He is not reliant on any particular nap time or routine.

*He sleeps anywhere - we go on holiday quite often, and when we do Tyne doesn't even seem to notice. Changes to his bedtime and his environment don't phase him.....he has never not settled as normal while on holiday, and he's never needed "re-settling" when we come home....He's very adaptable and I believe that him not being used to a set-in-stone routine helps with this.

Of course I understand that many parents feel the need to have a routine and feel it is beneficial for them, and that's fine.

Each to their own.

But after 18 months of hearing how "sorry" I would be for not following one...of everybody who chooses to follow a routine act as though I'm crazy or negligent for choosing not to follow one...I have to say, I'm REALLY not sorry! And we WON'T be following a routine for Noah either!

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