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Let Me Check My Palm Pilot . . .

I hate to even talk about this, because I don’t want to jinx things.  It’s like talking to your pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter.  But Maddie’s into a routine, and she’s grooving on it right now.
Madeleine’s a pretty great sleeper at night: we’ve had our sleep-training (heartbreaking) moments, but all in all she sleeps through the night without much encouragement from us.  The daytime naps, however, are a different story.  Far from the book recommendations of two naps – one about 1 hour, and the other 2-3 hours – a day, Madeleine limits her self to a very ascetic ½ hour nap each time.  She’s jumped back and forth between 2 and 3 a day, and we’ve finally settled at 3 providing Mommy doesn’t drag her back into bed in the morning for a sleep-in cuddle.  And she’s fluctuated between 5 and 6 nursings a day and is sitting right now at 6.

Let me say now that I’m not a big believer in sticking to a schedule – I don’t believe I can force a baby to wake up at a certain time and stick to a minute-by-minute plan for her day.  But I do notice that Maddie loves her routine; that if I let her set her first feeding of the day, which can fluctuate by an hour, and we base the rest of the day’s naps and meals around that in a consistent order, she’s a happy girl.  I’ve tried to get her expectations in line with what works for me, but do have to bow to her wishes most of the time.  We’ve worked out a sort of flowing timetable that kind of floats us down the days, giving us a rhythm and flow and making for extremely smooth sailing. 
And she’s a pretty flexible girl, which helps.  She is learning that Sundays for example, with our drives to church and long visits with people, are a different animal though we try to observe some of her same routine.  But I’ve discovered the hard way that messing with her routine, while perhaps more beneficial for me short-term, has long-term consequences that are usually not worth it.  For instance, if I’m tired and not inclined to get up when she wants to, I can usually convince her to sleep in the “big bed” for another hour or so (or at least lie uncomplainingly while Mommy sleeps).  But by the time we’ve gotten up, her solids feed schedule is off, which means she’ll either be a little full all day or a little hungry.  And she’s gotten up late, which means she’ll only take 2 naps that day but will be a bit crankier for it.  See what I mean?  Not worth it.
So for the most part we skim along buoyed by her natural inclinations and what’s become habit.  She knows that a morning walk is followed by a book is followed by a nap.  She’s happy in her bouncy seat “helping” me cook in the afternoon, for she knows there’s another nap followed by a nursing coming up and life’s pretty good.  We’ve found the times of day that work best for “jungle gym” play or putting on music and dancing around the room, and I find myself looking forward to them almost as much as she does.  “Oh, goodie!  Wiggle time!  Awesome – time to go for a walk!”  Or my personal favorite, “Yippee!  Time for snuggling on the couch!”  (That’s an actual planned activity, by the way.)
The down side to the routine?  Her day is packed, and squeezing in “extras” can be pretty difficult.  Trying to run to the grocery story in the one hour after her solid food lunch but before her first afternoon nap can be tight.  And running any long errands with her?  She takes changes like a champ, and is good-natured about the occasional lunch of pears and bananas in the food court rather than her home, followed by a (shorter than normal) nap in her stroller instead of her crib.  In giving her an established routine and occasionally deviating from it, she’s learned to trust us that it’s not a big thing, and the world as she knows it will return again shortly.  But it does throw her off a bit, so in general we stay close to home and the structure and comfort it provides.  I’m fortunate in that I’ve got the flexibility to work around her since I’m mostly a stay-at-home mom and she’s my only child; I look at my friends with two and three kids and don’t know how they do it!  And I confess, I do enjoy the nesting and narrowing of my daily circle more than I thought I would.
So if you’re ever in the neighborhood, drop on by for a visit; we’ll most likely be here.  Just make sure you call first.
Her schedule’s pretty booked.


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