What I mean is, knowing that tucked securely in your back pocket is a firm, decided-upon schedule can give you the ability to break away; you know that should everything go wrong, you have a plan. You know what the schedule will be and thus you know what to do to get back on it.
All this is to say that now, at one year old, we are doing a lot of straying from our schedule. It has taken a long time to build up the confidence I am talking about; but we have proven that we can make, keep, and evolve our schedule successfully, so I am much more willing now to go off of it if I need to.
That confidence has come just in time, because we are growing ever closer to both weaning and dropping from two naps down to just one. Yikes! I think both of those milestones will hit sometime over the summer, but we are trying to ease gently into in over the next few months.
Here’s our nominal schedule, with notes on how we depart from it frequently.
7:30 AM: Wake up. This is still a range; but the hard rule is that I do not go into the nursery until at least 7. 7:30 is a pretty accurate average, though. Once in a while we stray closer to 7:45. I look forward to the day when the children learn what ‘sleeping in’ is. Once I verify that both babies are awake, I go into the nursery and change their diapers. I carry them either into the bedroom or downstairs to the couch and we nurse (if Daddy is home, it’s the bedroom so we can all cuddle and play; if he’s at work, it’s downstairs). After nursing, it’s playtime, and if we haven’t already, we make our way down to the living room so they can start making a mess.
8:30 AM: Breakfast. Almost always frozen toaster waffles, mandarin oranges, and blueberries for them during the week, and cereal for me. Weekends sometimes get more elaborate, but not always. After breakfast, more playtime!
9:30 AM: Three times a week, we head upstairs early for bath time. On non-bath days, we just stay in the living room playing until nap time. On bath days, we go up to the bathroom, and I let the water heat while I take their pajamas off. Then the tub fills while I get their diapers off and put them in. They play, I wash them, and let the tub empty while I rinse them and it. Then I refill it with clean water and let them play some more. Eventually, I get them out, dry them, and put fresh diapers on; they crawl to the nursery and I put lotion on them and get them dressed one at a time (the other one pulls books off the shelves or plays with toys or laundry in the meantime).
10:00 AM: Nap time. Sometimes this stretches a little later; once in a while it doesn’t happen at all. Last week, we went to the mall in the morning instead to meet up with some other moms; I thought they would nap in the car on the way down, but they didn’t. When we’re home, though, they pretty consistently nap for at least 45 minutes once they settle down. After this nap is usually when we go out, if we’re going. If there are errands to run, we go out to lunch and then run them.
12:30 PM: Lunch time. This is actually anywhere between 12 and 1, and to be honest I’m pretty flexible with it. On weekends it has gone even later than 1, if we’re all out together. It’s not a big deal. If we’re at home, lunch is either leftovers or eggs; I need to make an effort to make sure that I’m eating a decent lunch at the same time, which has been an issue lately.
2:00 PM: Afternoon nap. This is now the long nap of the day; eventually, it will be the only nap. They usually sleep for almost two hours. Sometimes they get fussy and need to go down a little before two; sometimes they don’t go down til a little after two. If we are out, I try to get home before 2 so they can nap in their cribs. A few times, they’ve taken a very short nap in their carseats, then come inside and taken a much longer regular nap in their room. Once the morning nap disappears completely, this nap will probably lengthen a little more and get a little earlier again, but we’re not there yet.
3:00 PM: My written schedule says that they nurse at 3; in reality, they are almost always still asleep at 3. They usually nurse between 3:30 and 4; as the nap has gotten longer, I’ve basically decided that as long as they wake up before 5, they’ll nurse. If they wake up at 5 or after, they’ll skip it. Thus far, the latest they’ve gone is about 4:15. This nursing session will be the next to go, but I haven’t decided when that will be! It was easy to drop the 11 AM one, as they started to refuse it; thus far, they haven’t ever refused this one. After we nurse, they play in the living room and usually come up to play and cuddle on the couch with me for a while.
5:00 PM: I distract them with toys and start making dinner. Sometimes it works, sometimes they scream at the kitchen baby gate until I let them in, at which point they immediately head for the cabinets and start opening and closing them and pulling things out. We need to do some rearranging and probably lock the cabinet under the sink soon.
6:00 PM: Dinner. The babies now eat between them more than either my husband or I do. It is astonishing. The high chairs are set up next to each other at one end of the table, and we sit opposite each other on the sides. We each take a baby for the meal and deal with getting them more food, handing them water, telling them to sit down when they stand up in their high chairs, etc.
6:30 PM: My husband takes the kids from the dinner table to the living room, where he plays with them on the floor and/or reads books to them on the couch. I clean up from dinner and load the dishwasher, then come out to the living room and clean up a few of the more major messes. We are trying to do a little cleanup before they go to bed, in the interest of encouraging them to want to help; it does seem to be working a little bit, as my son will come over and try to ‘help’ me put away the large cardboard blocks – he tries his very best to hand them to me one by one. It’s super cute.
7:00 PM: Time for the bedtime routine. My husband strips the babies, changes their diapers, and puts them into pajamas, then brings them over to me on the couch, where I nurse them. When they’re done nursing, he takes both of them up to bed – which is now as simple as just putting them down into their cribs and leaving the room. They usually go right to sleep, and he’s back downstairs in about five minutes. In the meantime, I finish cleaning up the living room and putting away all the toys. On the nights when he needs to work late, I do the bedtime routine myself – same thing, just no handoffs.
10:00 PM: Bedtime for grownups, if we aren’t distracted or working.