I always wondered what my life would be like once I had a baby. How different would things be, exactly? Would my husband and I still maintain our friendships with people? Would we still go out on occasion, or have time alone? Would I be able to keep the house clean? Would I ever have time for myself?? (Spoiler alert: the answer to these questions is a resounding “YES”… with modifications, of course.)
Honestly, it’s taken a few months to get to a point where I can say I finally have something that resembles a “routine” for my day with baby girl. When she was first born, my life was thrown into pure chaos. I didn’t do ANYTHING for weeks on end except nurse her, change her diaper, kiss her 24/7, and try in vain to sneak in a few moments where I could grab a snack or catch a few zzz’s. It felt like the cycle would never end, and that I would never have my life back again. However, things have slooooowly fallen into place over time, and we made it to the finish line… hurray! 🙂
I was fortunate enough to be able to make the decision to stay home with our little girl until she’s 2 years old, at which point I plan to return to my career as a science teacher. So as a stay-at-home mom, our day is fairly flexible for the comings and goings of daily life. We don’t have a “schedule” in the traditional sense, but I do try to keep important things like her nap times and feedings occurring at roughly the same time intervals each day. (There’s a wonderful reference chart from Baby Sleep Site that you can use to determine approximately how long your little one can handle being awake between naps, and how many naps baby typically needs at a given age. This lines up exactly with what I read in the Baby Whisperer book, which is also a really helpful resource as a new parent trying to figure this all out).
So, currently, our routine is based around her awake time of roughly 1 1/2 to 2 hours between naps. Our day also starts with whatever time she wakes up in the morning, which is NOT always the same, but it does fall within a predictable range of 5:30 to 6:30 am. When it’s on the earlier end, sometimes I TRY to get her back to sleep… but I’m not typically successful. She’s naturally an early riser, no matter what time she’s gone to bed the night before (trust me, I’ve experimented!). I’ve learned to just roll with the punches, since it’s all you really CAN do.
Also, I’ve always nursed her on demand, and since she likes to “snack” instead of taking in larger meals in one session, it works out to a lot of brief nursing sessions sprinkled throughout our day, which I’m totally okay with. It kind of messes up the “Eat Awake Sleep” structure that I’ve been trying to follow since she was born, but all babies are unique! So ours works out to something more along the lines of Eat/Awake/Eat/Awake/Eat Sleep. Oh well. It works for us! 🙂
So, as a stay-at-home mom with an almost-5-month-old… here’s an example of what our daily routine looks like (using her actual awake & nap times from one of the days that I recorded):
EAT/AWAKE 6:30 am:
Wake up, change diaper, and nurse. Morning cuddle time with Mommy and Daddy in bed for about 20 minutes. Baby plays with a toy in the Rock N’ Play in the kitchen and watches while Mommy quickly makes/eats oatmeal for breakfast (good for the milk supply!) and makes a cup of coffee. Baby goes into the carrier to “help” while Mommy feeds and walk the dogs. Tummy time and/or activity mat play time with Mommy until baby is ready for a nap!
SLEEP (NAP 1) 8:25 am:
Start nap routine as soon I see “sleepy signs” (staring into space, rubbing eyes, fussing). Nurse, lullaby, and down for a nap in the crib. Baby naps anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour and a half. While she naps, I try to get a household chore done, or work on the blog. (On this day she napped for 45 minutes.)
EAT/AWAKE 9:10 am:
Wake up, change diaper, and nurse. Play time and/or tummy time, incorporating whatever new skill she’s working on (currently, we’re working on hand-eye coordination while reaching out/grabbing things nearby, and learning to sit up.) After about 30 minutes, baby has “breakfast” (currently, rice cereal & a fruit puree). Go for a 20 minute walk in the stroller on the trail surrounding our neighborhood for some fresh air and a change of scenery. After we get back, usually we nurse because it was getting hot outside. Then a little more play time before her nap.
SLEEP (NAP 2) 10:45 am:
Start nap routine as soon I see “sleepy signs”. Nurse, lullaby, and down for a nap in the crib. Baby naps anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour and a half. While she naps, I try to get a household chore done, work on the blog, or have some time for myself. (This time, she napped for 40 minutes.)
EAT/AWAKE 11:25 am:
Wake up, change diaper, and nurse. Baby goes into the carrier again while Mommy walks the dogs. Independent play time in the Jumperoo or in a floor seat nearby, while Mommy vacuums one section of the house (can’t do this while she’s sleeping, too loud! And one section a day doesn’t take long, but still keeps the dog fur at bay!). More tummy time and/or play time until baby is ready for her next nap.
SLEEP (NAP 3) 1:00 pm:
Start nap routine as soon I see “sleepy signs”. Nurse, lullaby, and down for a nap in the crib. Baby naps anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour and a half. While she naps, I try to eat lunch and then get a household chore done, work on the blog, or have some time for myself. (This time, she napped for 45 minutes.)
EAT/AWAKE 1:45 pm:
Wake up, change diaper, and nurse. If there’s an out-of-house errand that needs to be run, this is usually the time I like to go. Otherwise, you guessed it… more tummy time and/or play time until baby is ready for her next nap!
SLEEP (NAP 4) 3:35 pm:
Start nap routine as soon I see “sleepy signs”. Nurse, lullaby, and down for a nap in the crib. Baby naps anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour and a half. While she naps, I try to get dinner prepped for later if necessary, or have some time for myself. (This time, she napped for 45 minutes.)
EAT/AWAKE 4:20 pm:
Wake up and nurse. Baby has bath time, so we change her diaper at that point. After a little bit of play time, baby has “dinner” (currently, a fruit puree and vegetable puree). Baby goes into the carrier once more while Mommy and Daddy feed and walk the dogs. Then some more tummy time and/or play time until baby is ready for bed! Mommy tries to sneak in reading a book or two, although baby isn’t really all that interested in them yet (she thinks they’re better for chewing right now).
SLEEP (BEDTIME) 6:45 pm:
Start bedtime routine as soon I see “sleepy signs”. Nurse, lullaby, and down to sleep for the night in the crib. After she’s asleep, I cook dinner, shower, and spend quality time with my hubby until we’re ready for bed. (I’m not planning to force her to sleep through the night unless she’s ready and starts doing it on her own, so she still wakes up at night anywhere from 1 to 3 times for a REALLY brief nursing session. But then she goes right back to sleep, so this is a non-issue for me.)
Everyone’s daily routine is different, because every baby is different! What does YOUR routine look like? Share in the comments below!
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