If you’re anything like me, I’ve spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what kind of daily rhythm can be had with an unscheduled baby who has frequently changing needs. For R’s first few months of life, we didn’t have any kind of rhythm at all, but I’m pretty sure that’s expected and even healthy for the fourth trimester. After that 3rd month though, I was excited to find our groove, and after trying different things I think we’ve got a good loose framework to our days.
The easiest thing to do when you’re trying to organize and make sense of your days is to first develop a sweet bedtime routine for your baby. This one was oddly hard for me at first because I couldn’t get into the idea of a nighttime bath, and without that, I wasn’t sure what else to do other than read to R. At some point I gave in and put her in the bathtub and now there are baths every night.
I get it now. It’s a lovely, slow wind-down that is at the same time fun when a few bath toys are thrown into the mix. While she’s splashing around with her rubber duck, I put on soothing music and turn the lights low and set the atmosphere for sleep.
After ten minutes or so in the water, I get her out and give her a massage and dress her in pajamas, which at her age is basically all she ever wears anyhow. Then there’s a story, and after that, I cuddle her until she sleeps. And that’s our bedtime ritual. Use ours as a template for your own, but however you do it, make sure there are a few steps that you’ll flow through from point a to b so that you’re giving your little one a chance to anticipate what is coming and time to unwind.
Once you settle on something that both of you like, stick with the order of the steps, because the predictability is the whole point of a daily ritual. In a world where our babies have so little control, making their days easier to understand is a huge, beautiful gift we can give to them.
Do this for a few weeks until it starts to feel like a natural part of your day, and then move on to a morning ritual. This one doesn’t have to be as grand as the evening one, and mine is actually quite simple. I set my alarm so that we wake at the same time each day which is important in itself, and then I carry R into the kitchen with me while I make my morning mocha.
When I’m done we go back into the bedroom so I can make the bed, change R and dress her into her “daytime” clothes (which is just another version of her pajamas), drink my mocha and read a bit while she lays on the bed next to me, and then I’ll feed her and let her nap. Really simple. By the time she wakes up it’s usually around 10 am, and from there until the evening ritual which I try and start around 7:30, it’s kind of a free-for-all, although lately, I’ve been trying to get us out into nature at the same time each day to give us another strong anchor in our day.
Daily rhythms and life rhythms, in general, are something that I love to think about and create for my family because I know just how important they are.cRhythm gives them, and me, all the things we need most: a center, a point of reference, a grounding force, comfort, and what I like to call flexible predictability: flexible because it’s not set in stone and can adapt to changing circumstances, and predictable because as much as possible our rhythm, anchors, and rituals are on autopilot and happen with regularity.
Like I said earlier, take what I’ve written here and use it as a template for your own. There are a billion different variations and what you come up with should be unique to you and meet the needs, ages, and stages of your family. While I’ve got a good daily rhythm in place right now, it will more than likely look different as R gets older and starts to crawl (which she is about to do!!!) and then walk. We’ll just have to see what that looks like.
To end, I want you to know that just being with your baby is enough, so don’t stress like I did about getting just the right rhythm or routine in place. While it is important and one piece of creating a relaxed atmosphere, it’s secondary to the love and attention you’re already giving to your little one. So what you’re doing is already enough, and once you accept this then you can move on to logistical things.
Let me know if you try any of this, k? I really want to hear how it goes, and what special twist you put on it for your sweet family :)
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