I have always known that I am a bit of a control freak. Realising that babies cannot be reasoned with and it’s their way or the highway, I thought the unpredictable nature of parenting would something I’d learn to deal with. Although it’s certainly true that Arlo wears the trousers and I am 100% baby led (as if either of us would allow it to be any other way), today has illustrated just how much I like it when things go according to my plans

Today we nailed the perfect routine. The one I aim for every day but never manage to achieve.

Reasons why it was perfect:

For a start, it began at 8am, which is an hour and a half later than it usually starts (thanks for the generous lie-in, Arlo). Then he was awake for three hours before an hour and a half nap, followed by another three hours awake time and another hour and a half nap. A couple more hours of play, then before I knew it, it was time to start bedtime routine. This is the perfect balance of sleep and play for Arlo. He was completely happy and well rested, meaning he ate well and played without fuss (a rarity). These factors encourage more fitful sleep sessions and the routine stands more chance of remaining balanced.

Of course, when the opposite happens, it’s a catch 22 scenario. Grumpy, tired, hungry baby = short nap, short snacky feeds – rinse and repeat. More often than not, our days tend to go this way and I find it very difficult to get out of this rather more haphazard routine.

Reasons why I never achieve this routine:

As I mentioned before, babies cannot be controlled. There are so many factors threatening to thwart my plans for the perfect routine, and these factors can strike at any time. 8am is a late start for Arlo. If he’s up at 6.30am, that’s an hour and a half extra time to add to our day. Which means fitting in another nap and probably another feed or he’d be too tired and hungry by bedtime. Skipping the extra nap and putting him to bed earlier doesn’t work, or he’d be up earlier in the morning. Catch 22 again. But the extra nap means he’s not always tired for bedtime, and as much as I love him, I am not willing to trade my two baby free hours in the evening. And the extra feed means he snacks early in the evening and usually doesn’t take a full feed before bed, which means he’s up three hours after bedtime and looking for another feed.

Reasons why I care so much about getting the routine right:

This is a simple one. I just want Arlo to be happy. The fact that he is incapable of letting himself sleep for as long as he needs means I spend a lot of days with an overtired, grizzling boy who does not want to play and develop new skills. The right routine does wonders for him and he is such a happy boy on those days where we get it right.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I also have a slightly more selfish reason, as it makes my life so much easier when he is happy and well slept. I can concentrate, I can make conversation at baby group and actually hear what other people are saying to me without a screaming Arlo in my ear, I can help Arlo learn and explore his environment and take pleasure in his big grins.

When the routine goes out of the window and I have an unhappy boy on my hands, I feel very much at fault. The cumulative effect is one I’m sure all mothers are familiar with; a loss of confidence in my abilities as his mother, I wonder what I am doing wrong and why I can’t make him happy. When we get it right, I feel like we are a team.

Now, will someone please tell my son that my routine is good for him because he won’t listen to me.

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