If you’ve been following along with us on Instagram, you might know that we have had a long week. In addition to teething, Evie picked up a tummy bug, which meant for a long few days of an unsettled baba and a very tired Mama. Add to this a hubby with man flu…I’ve had a lot of coffee this week! It has meant that Evie’s routine has pretty much gone out of the window and I’ve been forced to go with the flow, something I’ve not been very good at since becoming a Mum!
Since Evie was small, I have always tried to get her on some kind of routine. When I look back on it, I was clearly trying to do too much too soon. I remember talking to my health visitor about it and her gently encouraging me to follow Evie’s lead when it came to feedings and sleeping. But for me, this seemed so hard! I really wanted some kind of pattern to follow, probably in the hope that it would somehow make life with a newborn a little easier and to validate to myself that I was being a good mother.
I would like to say that routine has been something I’ve been used to, but my life until having Evie was never structured in that way. I would teach regularly in between performances, which would be pretty reliable in terms of my time commitment, but if I were on a gig we would get our schedule the night before each rehearsal day. I used to love this life of unpredictability, but suddenly after having Evie I craved, and still crave, some kind of routine to follow.
Evie will be 9 months old next week (I have no idea how that happened!). I’m slowly starting to realise that the routines I so badly want her to have aren’t really for her at all. They’re for me.
At every stage, I would find myself searching for things like, “how many naps a day should a baby of this age be taking?”, “how many feeds should a baby of this age be having?”, “how to teach a baby to self soothe", “how to get baby to sleep through the night”, “how to get baby to take longer naps”, the list goes on. I have been so caught up in what I’m “supposed” to be doing as a mother, when really Evie has led the way from day one.
I remember a time when I wanted to get Evie onto some kind of nap schedule. Everything I read told me that she “should” be having a certain amount of naps a day, but when I asked my health visitor she told me that Evie was too young for any of that just yet. That reassurance from her allowed me to take a step back from it all and to a certain extent, go with the flow. It wasn’t long after that I suddenly noticed Evie was in fact on her own little schedule of three short naps a day, all around the same time each day.
Now, you would think that I would have learned from this experience to simply follow her lead…well, kind of! I think it’s understandable for any new parent (can I still class myself as a new parent nearly nine months in?!) to look for guidance when it comes to raising a small human. What I’m starting to learn is that any advice should be taken with a grain of salt, whether it’s from the internet, a book, friends, family, your neighbours or the random lady in the queue at Tesco. I have lost count of the times I’ve said to my husband, “Yes, but she SHOULD be doing this” or “she SHOULD be doing that”. What I’m slowly realising is that you can write a book or an article on what babies in general might be showing signs of at a certain age, but unfortunately no one hands you a book after you’ve given birth that is a manual on your own child. There HAS to be an element of taking each day at a time and even though there might be a “routine” in place, babies are very good at adapting. What I need to be better at is adapting, too.
The routines I want for Evie are really my way of taking back some control in my own life. Having Evie was a surprise (albeit a wonderful one!) that led to big changes very quickly. I didn’t get to choose when I became a mother, which meant I didn’t get to choose when I moved back to the UK or when I’d take a break from performing. It felt as though everything was happening *to* me and I was along for the ride.
What I’m trying to do is find other ways to feel in control of my day to day life, outside of my role as a mother. It’s small, simple things like making sure I have time for a coffee and a shower in the morning, taking Evie and Margie for a walk in the afternoon, spending time writing my thoughts on here. These are all things that I can manage each day, which I hope will eventually help to take hold of the larger moving parts of my life.
For Evie, I try to keep reminding myself that everything is a phase, because everything up until now has also been a phase. There were times when she was a newborn and I thought she’d be colicky forever and much to my delight, she grew out of it. She used to take three naps a day, but soon it turned into two naps a day. Everything is a phase. On the days she doesn’t nap for very long, rather than letting myself get frustrated I try and find a positive such as, maybe she’ll sleep better tonight or now we’ll have more time together today. It isn’t always easy, but I’m working on it!
Perhaps when it comes to babies, the routine is that there really is no routine. So, for now, I’m taking each day as it comes…or at least trying really hard to! As long as the day starts with a big cup of coffee, all will be fine :)
Little Evie & Me xx