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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- How to Balance Multiple Schedules
- How To Go Out with Your Babywise Baby
- Things Not Working? Change Your Parenting Strategy
- In Action: Flexibility and Mistakes
- Follow up: In Action–Flexibility and Mistakes
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
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
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