Monday, March 3, 2014

Putting Walker on a Schedule

I know sleep schedules - just like other parenting choices {breastfeeding vs. formula feeding; co-sleeping vs. sleeping in a cradle, bassinet or crib; swaddling vs. not swaddling; etc.} - are controversial. But, the awesome thing about this blog is that I can share my opinion and our experience and that's just what it is: my opinion! ;)

So, as I mentioned on Friday, it was time to put Walker - and us - on a schedule. Babies love routine, and we just didn't have one. At all. 

Before I begin, let me give you a bit of back story:
When I was pregnant, I had zero plans to put Walker on a strict sleep schedule…or any sleep/wake/eat "schedule" for that matter. I thought, "He'll tell us when he's hungry/tired/needs a change," etc. So, when we brought Walker home from the hospital, we basically let him run the show. And that meant he would cry or fuss and we would do the following: change him, feed him, rock him until he fell asleep, hold him while he napped {or try to put him down and pray he wouldn't wake up} and repeat all day long. It would be a great day if I could take a shower and make dinner without him fussing. 

At night, we'd swaddle him, lay him in his cradle in our room and pray he'd stick to the same 2-3 or 3-4 hour sleep/eat schedule he was on during the day. Sometimes he would do that. Sometimes he wouldn't. That meant he would eat at different times each day, sleep at different times each day and basically we were exhausted, Brandon was sleeping in the guest room {and I was resenting him for getting a full night's sleep}, Walker would randomly pass out and our evenings looked like this: 


So, after talking to one of my mom's best friends, one of my aunts, and one of Brandon's co-worker's wives - and doing a ton of research - we decided to implement a mix of Baby Wise and The Baby Whisperer to ultimately get everyone on a schedule. 

Like I mentioned, for us it was just about getting Walker {and us} on some semblance of a routine and making him eat at the same time…every. single. day. This would help regulate his little metabolism, allowing him to eventually sleep through the night…and allowing Brandon and me 100% know when he would eat and need to nap, so that we could plan to go places and do things without guessing if he'd be sleeping, hungry or fussy. Putting Walker on this schedule wasn't for a selfish reason for us. Yes, we want to sleep through the night, but we know that we signed up for sleepless nights when we found out we were pregnant. Starting this schedule routine was honestly the best decision for our family. 

A big help is that Brandon was 100 percent onboard - honestly, more onboard than I was - and was supporting this decision. Now, many people are going to think you're crazy. I've already had someone tell me that they don't know when they're going to visit us because "he'll always be sleeping." That's not the case. Brandon and I have decided to be lax with this, because we want our child to be flexible. The biggest, most important thing to us is that Walker eats at the same time every day. Why? Well, you get hungry around 6-7 a.m. for breakfast, right? And around 12 p.m. for lunch? And around 6-7 p.m. for dinner? Well, that's how we want our son to be: hungry around the same times every day to get his little metabolism working, therefore allowing him to sleep. However, we also want him to be able to sleep wherever: in his stroller, carseat, Moby, etc…not just in his crib, swaddled with the sound machine on. 

SO:  Here's where I get reaaaaaaallllll honest with you. The first day? SUCKED. My poor baby was crying in his crib and it went against every Mom instinct I have to not run in there and pick him up. I sat in the living room and watched him cry on the video monitor. I texted Brandon: "This isn't going to work." Brandon reiterated to me that Walker would eventually learn that I wasn't going to come get him every time he cried, so then he would learn to stop crying and soothe himself sleep. Yes, I would go in there and pop his paci back in his mouth - without saying anything; pat him and "shhhh" him for a minute, and walk back out. But it was still hard. 

But, we made it through the first day day, and Walker seemed to be rested, eating better when it was time to eat every three hours, and generally just more awake when we had "awake time." Exhibit A:


That night, he fussed before his 1 a.m. feeding, and then screamed his head off from about 4:45-7 a.m. We didn't go in there either time. And that was SO HARD. 

The second night, he didn't fuss at all before his 1 a.m. feeding, and I had to wake him up to feed him. He still screamed from about 6-7 a.m. 

The third night, same thing: no fussing before 1 a.m. feeding and crying from about 5:45-7 a.m. 

I'm telling you: the hardest part is hearing him cry in the morning. BUT: the second we walk in his room at 7 a.m., he immediately stops. So he knows. It's crazy, but he knows. 

So, all of that talk is nothing without the actual schedule, right? {Please note I texted this schedule to my husband and he comes home from work with this Microsoft Word creation and promptly posted it on the fridge.} 


So this is what we do {0-3 months}*:
7 a.m.: Wake Walker up, change his diaper and feed him {He will eat from about 7-7:30 a.m., and then we have "awake time" after that, where we'll do tummy time, talk to each other in the living room, sing songs, etc.} 

8-10 a.m.: Nap {During this time, I pump, take a shower, start a load of laundry, etc.} 

10 a.m.: Wake Walker up, change his diaper and feed him {He will eat from about 10-10:30 a.m. and then we have "awake time."}

11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Nap {During this time, I eat lunch, blog, respond to emails, clean, etc.} 

1 p.m.: Wake Walker up, change his diaper and feed him {He will eat from about 1-1:30 p.m. and then we have "awake time."}

2-4 p.m.: Nap {During this time, I try to nap myself or continue to do things on my to-do list.}

4 p.m.: Wake Walker up, change his diaper and feed him {He will eat from about 4-4:30 p.m. and then we have "awake time."}

5-7 p.m.: Nap {During this time, I get dinner ready; Brandon and I eat together; I'll pack Brandon's lunch for the next day; and we'll just visit.}

7 p.m.: Wake Walker up, change his diaper and feed him {He will eat from about 7-7:30 p.m. and then we give him a bath, swaddle him and just visit and love on him.} 

8:30-10 p.m.: Sleep {During this time, we watch a TV show, get ready for bed, etc.} 

10 p.m.: "Dream Feed" = Gently pick him up in his room with minimal light, don't unsaddle him or change him, feed him, burp him gently and then quietly put him back in his bed. {We go to bed right after this.} 

1 a.m.: "Dream Feed" = See 10 p.m. above, but note I do unswaddle him, change his diaper, feed him, burp him, reswaddle him and then quietly put him back in his bed. {We sleep during this time, obviously. Also, we are trying to eliminate the 4 a.m. feeding, but if that doesn't work for you, then follow this routine at 4 a.m.} 

7 a.m.: Repeat! 

*It is important to note that we swaddle Walker for all naps and for sleep time; we change his diaper before his 1 a.m. feeding; and he uses a paci. Also, it's okay that he doesn't sleep during his nap time or bed time. He just needs to be in his room, swaddled and learning to go to sleep on his own without us rocking him to sleep, holding him while he sleeps or following his every beck and call. During nap times, we leave the blinds open and don't turn on the sound machine. At nighttime, we shut the blinds and curtains and turn on the sound machine. 

All of that to say, we {so far} are getting a bit more sleep and learning this routine. 

And we have a sweet, happy baby, who is hopefully going to get on a great schedule and be sleeping soon! :) 

My best friend's mom sent me this link: "Mommy, Somebody Needs You," an article about finding joy in being the one person your child{ren} needs. I'd encourage you to read it, but have a tissue in hand. The portion that really hit me hard was this:

"So for now, I find beauty in the peaceful 4 a.m. feedings in our cozy little nursery.  We are perched above the naked oak trees in our own lavender nest. We watch the silent snow fall and a bunny scampering across its perfect white canvas. It’s just me and my little baby, the neighborhood is dark and still. We alone are up to watch the pale moon rise and the shadows dance along the nursery wall. She and I are the only ones to hear the barn owl hooting in the distance. We snuggle together under a blanket and I rock her back to sleep. It’s 4 a.m. and I am exhausted and frustrated, but it’s okay, she needs me. Just me.  And maybe, I need her too. Because she makes me Mommy. Some day she will sleep through the night. Some day I will sit in my wheelchair, my arms empty, dreaming of those quiet nights in the nursery. When she needed me and we were the only two people in the world."

So, Happy Monday. I'm going to take the time to enjoy being needed, wanted, and loved by a sweet boy who knows I'm his Mommy. 

3 comments:

  1. I'm not a mom but have heard great things about Baby Wise. It sounds like this is a great new routine for your family to help Walker get on a schedule. Babies do love schedules! I love reading your posts and learning for when we have kids :) Hope you have a great day!

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  2. My sister and many other mommies swear by a schedule like this!! I think it will really help you guys in the future....loving hearing about your days as a new mommy! Trying to mentally prepare myself!! :)

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  3. I'm finally putting Logan on a schedule at 4 months, so I came back to read this! He has not been sleeping well at daycare and we've hit the 4 month sleep regression at night, so we are doing it to get him into some better sleep habits. I read a lot of articles that say to only put him to sleep in the crib, so I'm curious how not doing that worked for you guys. If you can remember those days! :) Also, baby Walker is so tiny in these pictures! So cute!

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