Childrearing theories have varied greatly over the last 100 years, ranging from the strict protocols of the Victorian era (e.g. "children should be seen but not heard"), through the Dr Spock methods of regimented feeding, to the unfettered attitudes of the hippy period. With the move towards rationalisation and expertisa-tion of childrearing, today's parents have understandably become confused about "which is the best way" to bring up children.
One area of great debate has been the issues of routine versus spontaneity, rules versus freedom, does the baby fit in with the parents or visa versa. Nowadays there seems to be a mixture of previous models - the dedicated routine extremists, the dedicated freedom extremists, the vacillating extremists (who fluctuate from one extreme to the other), a few moderates in the middle, and a large bunch who just don't know what to do!
My approach, gained through my ashram training in which I have brought up 5 children, is that moderation is best. Routine and flexibility are needed in different situations. Yoga has taught me a routine of daily life which perfectly accommodates people of all ages, including babies. It is based on principles of what is best for body and mind and how this harmony can then flow into all your lifestyle activities.
Humans have an inbuilt need for optimum sleeping and eating routines. Of course, we all have varying parameters for these routines, but there is no doubt that if our life strays too far from the optimum, our mind and body will start showing definite signs of degeneration. Secondary to those main ones are our social and recrea-tional activities. Reorganising one's life to accommodate all those needs is one of the major hurdles encountered in preparation for the changes of motherhood. For example, if you ever catch yourself rushing out the door to a social or workplace appointment late from having slept in, with a half-eaten sandwich in one hand, at that point, work or recreation has taken priority over sleep and food. The digestive system will soon suffer and the body's energy will wane. When staying up late watching television, falling asleep on the lounge, entertainment has taken priority over sleep, lack of mental clarity is sure to follow the next day. A new mother must be especially careful she does not fall into such traps of misplaced priorities.
When it comes to establishing a balanced lifestyle, the first priorities are food and sleep. Then comes productive activity, relationships and lastly fun! That is nature's way in terms of survival needs and good outcomes for health. Your new baby is born a pure product of nature, without any overlay of human routine - well, only so far as your pregnancy may have patterned him into certain routines which must now be re-established anew. When it comes to a new baby's life routine, you will notice just how basic are his needs, and also, if you read nature's signs, you will come to understand the best order in which his needs must be met. The same priorities he needs for his survival, growth and well being are the same ones we adults should emulate in our lives. His basic evolutionary patterns are giving you a message of how to be in harmony with him. In other words, too much disparity between a mother's and a baby's life will produce disparity in their relationship, leading to conflict and stress.
The energy and intuition required for new motherhood can never arise from out of a tired and confused mind. It is therefore of great importance that you arrange time in each day to look after your own needs of energy and inspiration. But this won't happen if you just have an - "I'll fit it in when I can" approach. Such survival mechanisms (and they are your survival means) must be in your life by design, to give you a structure to return to when things start getting too disorganised. And they will!
Having a routine to your day may, for some, seem draconian but in the long run it is what enables a woman to begin a new life as a parent It allows time for personal space as well as for the practical matters of running a household. Having a routine which supports your survival needs along with the baby's will create a shared harmony and the best chance of natural development for mother and child.
A new mother does not need to think like all her other friends or even her pre-pregnant self. Nature is calling her to slow down, to focus on the needs of her baby, to look after herself and to fit in whatever else there is time for. That should be the natural order of things. I know, with a new born baby in the house everything can seem disorganised and it is easy for mother to lose the flow of the day and get lost in what feels like endless breastfeeding and nappy