Finding a routine – By Emma Hawkins

By writing this column for Wattle Health I have found the most frequent questions I am asked focuses on the routine I have for Arabella. If you have read my articles or follow me on Instagram you will know that, as a mum, I am a big advocate for routine. We became a strict ‘routine household’ when Belle was five months old after we had a meeting with Amanda, a nurse from childcare agency the Nest Nannies.

Since the time she was three and a half months to five months old, Belle was waking up sometimes six to seven times a night. Like most new parents, we muddled our way through. At first we thought perhaps she was teething. A few weeks later we wondered whether she was going through a mental development patch which was why she couldn’t settle. In our minds we were resolved to the fact that it was just a tough time and we’d have to keep persisting and simply find our way through.  But we couldn’t. We were both exhausted and needed to get her sleep routine under control. I asked a few friends for advice and two of them gave me Amanda’s number. I made the call and arranged for her to come and see us. She quickly arrived at the conclusion that Arabella had become too dependent on her dummy which meant she couldn’t self-settle when she would wake at night.

Taking the dummy off Belle filled me with dread. I just didn’t think I could handle it on my own and I was so exhausted. That’s where Amanda came to the rescue. She stayed with us for a couple of nights and not only did she help Belle say goodbye to her dummy, she also did a total evaluation of our home and how it was impacting on Belle routine. She looked at Belle’s diet, her nursery set-up, her sleeping patterns and put together a tailored routine for her. I know I am incredibly lucky to be in the position to afford Amanda’s services and understand this is a position not everyone is in.

Since Amanda left, Belle has slept through the night every night (excluding when she’s been teething or sick). Amanda was nothing short of a godsend for us. As a new mum I found it really beneficial to have Amanda in my corner (literally) and she helped me gain my confidence back, she taught me so much about Belle’s behaviour and how I could better understand it and help her. For example; I added new foods to her diet that were more substantial such as toast, pastas etc. I also always ensured her bedroom was always pitch black when she went to sleep. Amanda shared methods on how to travel well with Belle (such as leaving during her nap times), how to be more comfortable and relaxed with my decision making as a mum and the most importantly, getting Belle into a routine.

There are many positives of being a “routine family”. Firstly, I know exactly when Belle is going to sleep every day so I can plan my life around those nap times whether that be chores or whatever. And secondly, I’m more comfortable with friends or babysitters looking after Belle because I can lay the whole daily routine out for them.

On the flip side however, sometimes the routine can be a pain and Belle isn’t very adaptable when we fall out of the routine. Take last Sunday for example where she had her morning nap but because we were out for the rest of the day, she missed her afternoon nap and we paid for it!

Belle is now 14 months old and she has had the same routine since she was six months old. We have cut back one bottle-feed and I’m holding on to the two naps a day for as a long as I can. While I have been a strong advocate of a routine, I must add I am more flexible with it now and use it as a more of a guideline rather than a hard-and-fast rule because, let’s be honest, sometimes life can mess with your plans.

Lot’s of you have asked so here is my routine for Belle:

7 am                      Belle wakes and has a bottle

8 am                      Breakfast

9am                       Bed

10:30am               Wakes (She usually sleeps for an hour-an hour and a half)

11am                     Morning tea and water

12pm                     Lunch and play

1pm                       Bottle and bed

3pm                       Play and afternoon tea

5pm                       Dinner

6pm                       Bath

7pm                       Bottle and bed

Written by Emma Hawkins

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