This gave me evening leisure time first with the other kids before their bedtime, then other adults or to be on my own.
· I took the initiative to wake the baby each evening around 10 pm for a feed after my evening meditation, before going to bed myself. Some of them woke spontaneously for this, others would stay asleep and then wake at about midnight just as I was drifting into deep sleep which was not ideal for my sleep needs.
· The baby would wake sometime around 2 am for a feed but gradually, after about 4 months, the middle of the night feed dropped off.
· When solid food was introduced at around 6 months, I dropped 10 pm feed.
This routine was what worked best for me and the babies and helped all the other family and community residents fit in with the new baby. Each day had a real flow to it and it meant that if I did go out for the day I used that same time frame to work around. For example I would drive out when it was her morning sleep time, shop when she was asleep or awake, feed her either before or after I had eaten lunch, drive home when she was sleeping, to join up again with the home routine. The result was always very little disruption to her night patterns and no hangover the next day for either of us! More about breaking routines and going out is included in later sections.
One of the most common reasons that mothers get strung out, is that they are always getting interrupted. Just as you are about to get started on something - BINGO - someone wants you again. It is the most infuriating thing! It causes half done jobs, badly done jobs, jobs that need repeating - and all sorts of other frustrations. These are to be avoided (or at least minimalised) at all costs! This syndrome can often be caused by lack of routine in the mother's life, or a routine which others in the household have disturbed. If you and your baby have a particular routine, which is suddenly changed for some reason, you can be sure that your baby will subsequently react adversely to that, further disrupting your life. Sometimes even simple breaches of routine can take days (and nights) to recover from.
Many parents do not realise just how much their going out disturbs their babies.The noise, the pollution, the excessive lighting, the jostling, the general tension and scatteredness of
public places must in many ways disturb a young child's psyche, not to mention their sleeping routine. Considering that a baby's environment prior to birth was 24 hours of darkness in a fluid cushioned belly, with the pregnancy causing slow and deliberate movements - only to be born and then be jostled to and fro in capsules and cars, road bumps and shopping malls - such sensory bombardment must all be a terrible culture shock. I have seen mums with new babies (awake in their baskets in the trolleys) in supermarkets at 9 pm at night and wonder how that child will ever learn to sleep in a natural daily cycle. Such children must sleep only out of complete exhaustion.
Given that both you and your baby will get sick and crabby from time to time, just from the usual events within yourselves and inside your household, my preference has always been to set things up so that for the first month - at least - to minimise outside disruptions so that you and your baby do not have to go out, at all. This simply means delegating or having what you want come in to you, both of which are better alternatives than breaking a newly established routine.
But just as there is a need for routine, there are also times which require flexibility and adaptability. With each passing month in motherhood, the routine of your life gradually shifts. Circumstantial and personal change is inevitable, indeed necessary, and it should not be resisted but creatively managed. I witness a lot of mothers getting confused by the changes in their baby, thinking that a methodology that worked at 4 months old should still work at 8 months. Often the changes are so subtle that you don't immediately recognise the need for adaptations.
The most obvious shift in a child's early life is the increasing time of wakefulness and the effects this will have on your life routine. As this occurs, it means that some of the things you were used to doing whilst the baby was asleep will have to be done either in his company, postponed to another time in the day, or else relegated to another person altogether. The upside of your baby being awake more, is that you can journey away from the home for short periods of the day with him as an active participant, rather than dragging a sleeping baby in and out of cars and shops. It therefore helps if you can re-establish new routines for your own activities at such times based on his changing needs.
Another area which can greatly disrupt one's well established routines are the sudden growth spurts which every child goes through. There may be a need for