Let Your Schedule Serve You: You Don’t Serve Your Schedule (Don’t Stress)

Tips to have a schedule but not be a slave to your baby’s schedule. How to let your schedule serve you and examples of how this looks in real life.

Mom feeding her baby on a schedule

There are so many things I love about having a schedule for my kids. It makes my life easier in countless ways.

But it is easy to let a schedule take over. It is very easy to get obsessive about the schedule. With my first, I worried over it until his younger sister was born. Then I seemed to mellow out a lot in respect to what he was doing–perhaps it was because I had bigger worries in getting Kaitlyn on schedule (not that she was hard, it was very natural for her, but my worries shifted).

While Kaitlyn was a natural with the schedule, she still had bad days. She had reflux, which makes everything harder, but she was also a human baby, and humans have bad days. While Kaitlyn was in her bad days, I would wonder if it would ever get better. My emotions got the best of me even though I logically told myself it would get better. I knew it would because I had been there before.

Never-the-less, I stressed.

Do Not Be a Slave To Your Schedule

While I think it is important to have consistency with your schedule and think you have to make personal sacrifices to make Babywise work, you still have to live a life and allow your other children (and husband) to have fun.

Being a slave to a schedule means you le the schedule rule everything you do. Sometimes you need to put the schedule on the backburner so you can do other things.

Kaitlyn did have to be more flexible than Brayden did as a newborn since she had an older brother. Luckily for me, Brayden was still quite young and we had a really big yard, so I did not have to work a lot around the baby schedule. But you can’t quite put the lives of your children on hold like you can your own.

Schedule Serve You Pinnable Image

I kept Kaitlyn on schedule as much as possible, but she had a lot of naps in the car seat for park visits, pool visits, lake visits…a number of things we just didn’t do when Brayden was that age. If she’d had a lot of disruption, I put getting her back to well-rested and calmed down the priority of the family. We all compromised here and there.

Read: How To Maintain a Sleep Schedule with School Disruptions

With my third child, she had to be even a little more flexible than Kaitlyn had to be. Luckily for us all, McKenna was naturally more flexible, so it was easy to be the master of the schedule instead of letting the schedule be the master of us.

Brinley, our fourth child, was not as flexible (people say babies are more flexible when they have to be. That is true to some degree, but they also have their own disposition). I worked to balance her needs and the needs of the older kids. I was able to manage her schedule and the schedule of the three other children–read all about that here.

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Let Your Schedule Serve You

Babywise says your schedule is to serve you, you aren’t to serve your schedule. This means the point of the schedule is for your benefit and the benefit of your baby and child.

It is up to you to look at the situation and decide when to stick to the schedule and when to ignore the schedule for other activities. When you have a baby, it can be tricky to find that balance. We really want to stick to that schedule so we can make sure baby gets on a great schedule. You have to look at balance and priorities.

Read: Balancing Baby’s Needs with Family’s Needs

I often make more sacrifices with a younger baby. It really is a short time. As babies get older they take fewer naps, so there are fewer times of day you have restrictions to work around. Most babies move to 3 naps a day at four months old. With all three of my girls, that last nap (in the evening) was often missed while we went out and did family things.

Read: “Flexible-izing” a Baby

An example from Brayden’s babyhood is his bedtime. My husband was going to school and working and didn’t get home until after 8 PM each day and left around 6:30 in the morning.

To put Brayden to bed early meant he never saw his Daddy. That is not acceptable to me. So Brayden took a late evening nap for a long time and his bedtime was between 9:30 and 10:00 PM. Yes, his bedtime was that late!

It was more important for us to have Brayden see his father each day than to have the ideal bedtime. That was not the best bedtime for him, but it was the best bedtime for his situation.

Let your schedule serve you.

My husband graduated just before Brayden turned 1 and we worked his bedtime to 8:30 PM, then soon after 7:30 PM. By then my husband was home by 4:30 PM each day and time could be spent together before bedtime. Once our schedule worked to move his bedtime to what was ideal for him, we did it. 

But the beauty of the schedule was that I could make it so he saw his dad each day and had a predictable life. We made the schedule work for us.

Read: Tricks for Getting Baby on a Consistent Schedule

Letting your schedule serve you might look like arranging your schedule around school schedules or sports practices. It might mean you do not worry when you need to adjust or mess up baby’s schedule for that Christmas party. It might mean you skip that nap at home so your toddler can get out of the house on that first beautiful day of spring. It might mean you hold your newborn through that nap because you just want to savor that moment. 

Other times, it will mean you go to that party a little late because you know your baby can’t handle missing her nap that day. It will mean you arrange a carpool so you can let bedtime happen on time for your other kiddos. That schedule has taught you the needs of your kids and you let that serve you well as you make decisions that are best for your kids. 

Don't be a slave to your schedule pinnable image


My best advice to you for successfully using a schedule would be to continue on the best you can and don’t worry about whether or not things are going exactly by the book. Always let your wisdom and experience guide your decisions, not the schedule and not the pressure from others to ignore the schedule. 

Do the best you can, but just sit back and relax. That is what I eventually did with Brayden. I just said, oh well. This is how it is, I am going to just accept it. I was much happier about it then.

I have maintained that outlook and it makes things much less stressful. I thought things through and tried to get my baby to do what she should, but I don’t sweat it.

Tell yourself “Oh well” when things go wrong. “He woke up early from a nap, oh well.” Yes, analyze the situation. Yes, troubleshoot. Try to solve the issue if it is persistent. But don’t stress–move on with your life. Life goes on!

Other Posts on Schedules and Flexibility

Reader Schedule Questions

  • Fortibus Marketing of Charleston, L.L.C said…
    Quick Question. Do I have to feed my son right after he wakes up? Is there a reason BW implements this? Thanks, Dayna
    March 2, 2008 12:43 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    I can’t say for sure, here are my theories.1-The book says the cycle helps baby differentiate night from day. 2-It helps ensure baby takes a full feeding. For this reason, you really want to avoid feeding right before a nap.3-The book also says it helps baby to be more alert and happy during waketime. Baby is full and rested for waketime, so he can focus on learning–his basic needs are met.4-If they have taken a full nap, they are usually really hungry when they wake up.Those are my theories. I will see if I can get more clarification on that. Thanks!
    March 2, 2008 9:42 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    I passed your question on to Anne Marie Ezzo (Gary Ezzo’s wife), and here is what she had to say.She said my theories are all fine. However, depending on the age of your son, you may not need to feed him right after he wakes up. You can wait 10-15 minutes, if he will. Like I said earlier, a lot of babies wake up and are ready to eat right away, but if he is content to wait a few minutes, it will help teach him that the minute he wakes up he doesn’t necessarily need to eat. She said, ” I have shared with mom’s as their baby is on a good routine, got this nursing thing down, milk supply is great etc. and that usually is all in place between 4 – 6 weeks, that it’s probably a good idea to have a short space of time between getting baby up and sitting down to feed, so that baby isn’t ‘conditioned’ to think, as soon as I wake up I need to eat.”If you do that, you just need to make sure you count that as part of the wake time.She also said that she noticed your address is Charleston. If it is SC, there is an active ministry for moms if you want more connection and help. Hope that helps you!
    March 3, 2008 9:46 AM
    This question is the inspiration for the Eat/Wake/Sleep Cycle post

8 thoughts on “Let Your Schedule Serve You: You Don’t Serve Your Schedule (Don’t Stress)”

  1. I need some words of encouragement,tips and advice. The holidays are going yo be busy for me and my 7 month old baby. My sister and her husband are coming for the holidays for 2 weeks and my mother and younger will stay at my house for the 23 thru 26 possibly other days dont know yet. I am getting stressed. I already spoke to my mom and sisters about setting a schedule of whose coming who is staying sleeping over etc. My youngest tells me to just tell her went to live that she will understand but imagine me telling her: " Yeah, you can go now." Thanks for coming over.Anyways last time this happend was when Ian was 3 months old and I was the most annoying person. I was telling people : Can you guys keep it down. Lower your voice baby is sleeping, dont make too much noise or sorry we cant go right now is time for his nap…etc.I was coined as paranoid and to ecept the fact that I cannot control everything in his environment. I admitted being obsessive when I told my husband and brother in law to take the playing guitar to the other living room furthest from Ians' room.( Its a one story home, open plan)I basically felt horrible for Ian, my guests and my husband as well as myself.U know people are in vacation and sleeping earlier than 11pm or 12pm is a bummer or cooking & eating at certain times was too much to ask from my part.This time around I am telling everyone that there will be some house rules. No cooking after 9pm or watching TV in the farthest living room from the babys room etc.BUt I cant help feeling anxious. I've been asked that for new year we go spend time at my moms house for a change of scenery and receiving the new year there which it was better than going for fire works downtown idea, I told them that I would stay there til a certain time then leave to put Ian to sleep at 7pm and that would be it for me but my husband was more than happy to take him home and spend the new years eve at home by himself to make sure Ian was in bed and well. My sister asks me why cant we keep Ian at my moms have him sleep there for the part of the evening and then take him home.As you can see I am worried about ruin it for the rest for trying to put Ians' well being first. He gets so tired and crabby when he doesny sleep. Please some advice!!

  2. Claudia, If they were coming for a day or two, I would say just relax and let things happen, but two weeks is a long time to disrupt your little one, so I think it is smart to have some ground rules.One thing to keep in mind is that Ian should be better at sleeping through stuff as a 7 month old than a 3 month old.If I were you I would either put a humidifier in his rooom or get a white noise machine or something. That way he won’t be distracted by every little noise.You could take Ian to New Year’s and put him to bed then wake him when you went home–but that would depend on his ability to adapt to things. I know with Kaitlyn that would have been no problem. With Brayden, I think it would have been hard to do.I don’t think it is too much to ask your family to respect Ian’s needs. It sounds like he might be like Brayden was. I would just tell them something like, “sorry if it is a pain, it is just that if Ian doesn’t get his sleep he gets so crabby and then he just wouldn’t be fun for anyone.Expect there to be disruptions, but do your best to keep Ian on schedule and sleeping well so he can remain a happy guy while you have visitors. Good luck!

  3. Hi, my name is Jana and I come from the Czech Republic. I got the book On Becoming Babywise from an English friend, who married a Czech, when I was expecting my first, Klara. Needless to say, I was very grateful for its wisdom, here in Czech it is not known at all and I seem to be the only one doing it apart from my English friend. I came across your blog when I was looking for more Babywise resources on the web and your blog has been very helpful. However, I now got to the point when I need more complex advice. Please bear with me. Klara has just turned 5 month, she is a big baby (almost 9 kilos).Because we live in an apartment block I didn´t want to do the CIO for sleep training so at firt we rocked her to sleep. Bad idea – we decided to quit when she was getting to heavy and she learned to fall asleep by CIO.Luckily no neighbours complained.:-)Now I was expecting her to start STTN but no luck.Again I didnt want her to CIO because at night it would be heard much more.However,we finally did it and now she is sleeping from 10.30(dreamfeed) to 6.30-7.Yeah!My problem is that I still do 7 feeds a day and think it is too much because the last two feeds before bedtime are not even 2,5 hours apart.Do you think if I reschedule to 5 feedings until bedtime and then gradually drop the dreamfeed, she will be OK? Also she takes a long time to fall asleep for the nap before bedtime, sometimes doesn´t even fall asleep. I don´t want to let her cry so long. But she is very tired by the time she goes to bed (around 7pm).Is it OK if she just takes a catnap? What exactly is that?:-)(Sorry about my English.)One last question:I use an old baby coach on our balcony for daytime naps, she sleeps really well outdoors.I sometimes rock her in it but not to sleep.Is that OK for naps? Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it.

  4. Jana,If she is breastfed, it is normal to have less than 2.5 hours between the feeds at the end of the day.She is certainly old enough for fewer than 7 feeds a day. You can definitely try to take her back to 6, then 5. She might always need five, but most can go down to four at some point. A catnap for the last nap of the day is just fine. A catnap is a short nap…like a cat takes. It is typically anywhere from 30-60 minutes. If this last nap is the fourth nap of the day, she might be able to stop taking it all together and just skip a nap at that time of day.It sounds like the baby coach is okay…I don’t know anything about it. But there isn’t a BW principle that says “no naps outdoors,” so as far as that goes, there is no problem.

  5. Hi there! (sorry this is a bit wordy…mostly because I posted a couple schedules) So I've been thinking about my 10.5 week old son's schedule quite a bit lately and some problems that we're having and if I need to change things. He is currently on an 8-8, 3 hr schedule that looks like this: 8-wake/feed 8:45-nap (always wakes at 40ish min for EVERY nap, move to swing with paci to finish naps) 11-wake/feed 11:50-nap 2-wake/feed 2:50/55-nap 5-wake/feed 5:50/55-nap—(usually always has to start in swing or won't go to sleep) I'm still working with the evening, what we've been doing isn't really working…so here is what we were doing: 5:50-nap(wakes around 25 min into nap but with paci will fall back asleep until around 7:20/7:30 and then we have to wake him, which is hard sometimes, but he'll wake happy) 7:30-feed 8:20 bed Here is what we had switched to in the evening: 5:50-nap 6:50-we wake him up..but then he is fussy for the evening 7:30-pjs, massage, pray, feed 7:50-in bed (but he's been screaming for 45 min before we have to help and he just keeps escalating and the only way he'll stop and fall asleep is with the paci) Anyways…he used to sleep in the morning til around 7:45-8:15 but for several weeks now he's been waking between 6:20-7:30 and the only way we can get him back to sleep is to put him in the swing and he'll sleep til 7:50-8:15ish. I've always thought this was because he tends to have A LOT of gas in the morning and it wakes him up..you can hear him tooting and grunting. And, he's not waking happy at the 6:30-7:30 time..he cries, but if we can get him back to sleep til 8 he wakes happy, but then I have a hard time getting him down for his first nap sometimes. Well, then someone got me thinking that maybe his natural clock is to wake around 7 and start his day. Here's our dilemma: I haven't tried the 7-7 thing but the reason we are at 8-8 is because it works best with our schedules. The book says to evaluate your life and pick a schedule that will work best with your commitments and schedules. It would be really hard to be consistent with a 7:00 bedtime, we'd have to eliminate church basically, which isn't an option for us. 8 Still works for us because I can get home by 7:30 on Sun. nights and still get him to bed around 8 and then on Wed nights we aren't able to get home til 8:30 so that is one evening that we just kinda have to work through. A babysitter isn't really an option because everyone we know goes to church and we feel church should be a "family" thing, not leave part of our family at home. Plus, being on the 8-8 3 hr schedule works well with other things during the day. And for example, we've been able to put him down at other people's houses with the current schedule (and he's done great) but people cant usually start evenings together until 6:30 ish and so that'd be right in the middle of his bedtime routine and it'd be hard to get him down somewhere else. (And a small factor, but I'll be honest ….that gives me no opporutunity to sleep in on a Saturday or another day when I'm plum pooped since the little kiddo won't let me take naps since he can't nap longer than about 40 minutes. 🙂 ) I just have a hard time seeing how we would be able to continue functioning on that. Supposedly you are supposed to be able to set their schedule to serve you and mesh with your schedule, but we'd be slaves to his schedule if we switched to a 7-7. You even mention that you had Brayden at a late bedtime because of your husband's schedule. So that's my dilemma. I just don't know how it would work without us being slaves to his schedule. Any thoughts? Thanks, Callie

  6. For the earlier waking, did he drop a night feeding before this happened? That can be common if they reduce the number of feeds in the night to wake earlier in the morning.Do you give gas drops in the day? That might help.You do work your schedule with you–but that doesn't mean that you say "this is what works for me and you will conform to it." There needs to be give and take on both sides. Starting at 8 AM is really unnatural for most babies, so unless you got one of those few, it is unlikely to work for you. If your baby is not a natural 8-8 type, I would suggest you do 7-7 and then just know you will have two nights a week that aren't ideal. But two evenings a week that are off is better than 7 days a week off because you are trying to do a schedule that won't work.Not being slaves to the schedule is more about being flexible with your schedule and working with disruptions than you being unwilling to adjust yourself. You should be more flexible than a baby.I understand the desire to sleep in, I promise. I can count on one had the number of days I have slept past seven in nearly 6 years because Brayden is a natural 7 AM waker. There is just no changing that. And even when he had a late bedtime, he still woke at 7. Parenthood is not easy; it requires sacrifice. Lots of it. And lots of inconvenience and giving up things you used to enjoy…that is parenthood. I would have loved to have slept past 7–especially when I was pregnant. But what it did do is make me more responsible about going to bed at a good time because I knew 7 was coming at 7 no matter when bedtime happened for me.


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