When I was pregnant with the little Miles chickens, and for the first three months of his life, I was obsessed with routine. I needed a bit of structure that’s true, but I also got caught up in what everyone else was doing. So many parents had sleeping routines, eating routines, and we worried about keeping baby on a schedule.
Then one night in the middle of trying to get Miles to sleep in his crib I picked him up and brought him into bed with me. Based on nothing but gut feeling, exhaustion, and mama instinct I stopped listening to the bloggers and the online experts and I listened to my heart. We’ve been co-sleeping ever since.
Life and little ones do not follow a schedule. They have no need for time, they aren’t worried about your itinerary. Before Miles, I didn’t have a routine. We live a slow, intentional life where we follow the rhythm of the day without strictly adhering to a clock or a schedule. Sure, we have loose guidelines like when we need to be at work and when Miles should be in bed, but they aren’t so rigid that we beat ourselves up.
I’m not saying that schedules and routines are bad if they make your life better. If having a routine and sleep training your baby bring you joy and make your life better then that is beautiful- and if they don’t? There is another way.
If you’re spending more time stressing and thinking about routines, milestones, sleep training, and eating schedules than just being with your little one or doing what you love most, maybe it’s time to shift. To slow down. To hit the reset button.
I have adopted rhythms over strict routines. A routine can make you feel like you’re failing because you’re not meeting high standards you’ve set for yourself. A rhythm is more fluid. It moves with you, adjusts as life does- as your baby does.
My favorite blogger & podcaster Brooke McAlary of the Slow Your Home Podcast writes beautifully about rhythm and how to suss out the rhythm of your life.
If it’s time for a shift, ask yourself the following questions.
What are my priorities/values? Is it exercising before breakfast, or taking the time to eat dinner as a family every night?
What do other people in my home need? Does my husband need time to study? Perhaps you want time to write or have a bath?
What feels positive? What makes me feel vital and happy and energetic? Make this a priority.
What can change from the current situation? It’s always possible to get up earlier or go to bed later. Similarly, if there are areas where a lot of time is wasted, this can be shifted elsewhere.
What can’t change – no matter how much I’d like it to? School times, bus and train timetables, meetings and appointments can’t change. Make sure these are taken into account and allow some wiggle-room for the inevitable delay.
Since shifting from routine to rhythm I have found forgiveness for myself. I am less stressed and more present. I have stopped comparing myself to other mamas.
Why set ourselves up in a routine that we can fail at when we don’t have to? Instead of asking yourself what you should be doing embrace the flow, choose your pace, let go of the expectations and the pressures our world creates.