We are all creatures of habit and even the most free spirited being will follow a pattern. Babies have their own rhythm and the moment the little one makes his appearance in the world, your entire routine goes for a toss. And this holds good not only for the new mother but also for the new father. Sometimes it also holds good for the new grandparents as happened in my case.
Right from the first day that baby was born, we had to adapt to a routine – the routine of the hospital which meant that the entire household revolved round the visiting hours. Once baby came home we had to establish a routine around his. His wakeful hours determined how we spent ours and his sleep time was meant for catching up with chores or sleep! Somehow we managed to work out when he bathed, when he slept and when he ate and accordingly we adjust our own schedule.
Funnily enough babies thrive on routine. They love having their own bed, their own toys and their own schedule which changes from time to time. In the very beginning, with a major part of their lives spent sleeping, the routine centers round sleep times but gradually new activities will need to be accommodated in a routine. Thus you will find that you need to add a walk in the park or garden so that baby gets fresh air. You may also have to keep sometime for a story, some time for an afternoon splash in the tub. Whatever it is, babies love knowing what time they will be doing what.
After ten months of sleeping after his bath, my little grandson who is soon approaching his milestone birthday, has started asserting his own independence now. He tries his level best to avoid sleeping after his bath. Very often it becomes a battle of wills and wits till one of us gives up. Yet this outcome is determined by his need for sleep – if he has woken up early enough, he will eventually recapitulate but if he has woken up late, he manages to negotiate a later sleep time for himself. But the morning sleep is a must.
Similarly we have another little battle in the afternoon. While he is playing I can see his mouth widen in a yawn but just bring him to his bed and he’ll rebel! Sometimes I indulge him and allow him to cruise for a while, sucking on his pacifier, playing with the remote of the music system and slowly drifting off. Sometimes I cajole him with a story but there are times when he actually howls his protest and it is only a hard hearted me who persists in trying to get him to sleep. It is only a question of one or two howls before he finally nods off. Essentially, a child needs to sleep at fixed times just as he needs to eat at fixed times. Not only does this make his life easier but it also makes it easier for those looking after him.
Of course many people would say that babies are too young to be disciplined but in my personal opinion, you are never too young to learn. Good habits are hard to form and the earlier they are instilled, the better it is.
A timetable is an efficient and effective management tool in your life and that of the baby. You can plan your activities while he is sleeping or playing in the garden so that your child becomes an integral part of your life. It is my personal experience that controlled and regular sleep times and feeding times make for a happy and well adjusted child. Currently our grandchild’s routine includes an hour or so in the garden in the middle of the morning. It also includes some water play before bed-time when he squirts all of us with his water toys.
Essentially children love routines because nothing comes as a surprise to them either! So for all those parents who feel that a routine is restrictive and stifling, I’d say go for a routine. Of course take your child’s needs into consideration but do let him know that there is a time for everything. That way both of you will enjoy your time together!
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood