Just before baby boy was born I was embarrassed to tell people I wasn’t planning on getting a stroller. It seemed everyone was bombarding me with advice on which stroller to get and it felt a bit weird to go “um, actually, I think I’ll be okay with just a sling…”
Now, I proudly carry baby boy with me wherever I go: I know babywearing works for me and happily tell everyone I meet how much I love the sling.
The issue I now feel I need to keep quiet about is routines. Routines, routines, routines, the mantra for all parents. The solution to all evils and woe upon you should you forget to start a routine EARLY. I read about it on blog posts, parenting sites and books. I hear it from friends and acquaintances. “Follow your instincts when parenting your baby, but don’t forget to have a routine!” “It might not work at the start, but you must get you baby used to the routine!”
This is my moment of coming clean. We don’t have a routine. Neither for nap times, for eating, bathing or sleeping. It’s not that I think routines are bad, I just wonder if they are necessary.
You’d think that something that’s supposedly so important would have a lot of research to back it up, right? While there are many articles written by parenting experts telling you how their specifically designed schedule is the only way to get your baby to sleep for 8 hours straight, I had difficulty finding any actual scientific research.
I did find some evidence that bedtime routines can help when children have problems sleeping, but that was about it. At any rate there was nothing that said “if your child grows up without routines he will be a miserable, confused adult”.
I found that with a routine I actually got more stressed. Why wasn’t my baby going to sleep at the usual time? Was there something too stimulating about his bath? Should I be waking him up from his long afternoon nap? Once I just let go, realised that baby was okay, we were okay and everyone was sleeping just about enough, things got easier.
Thing is, flying in the face of conventional wisdom can be a bit terrifying. Please, tell me have any of you out there shunned routines and schedules in favour of a more relaxed day-to-day rhythm?