WHY I’M A CONFUSED AS SH*T MAMA

So. I’ve been putting off writing this post for months mainly because:

A. I’ve spent a lot of time mulling it over in my head and discussing it with other mums

B. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit concerned that I’d come across as a sh*t/ selfish / smug parent (the fact that I can’t decide which one says it all really doesn’t it?!) #parenthoodissuchafuckingweirdthing

C. I genuinely feel like the odd one out in this arena

Ultimately though, the more I share on social media, the more ‘relevant’ I feel it is; it’s a big part of how we bring up our kids, the way we lead our lives and our general family philosophy (that sounds w*nky but you know what I mean). I also get a fair few questions and comments surrounding this issue so I thought it’s time I tackle it head on. And with Sonny now sleeping absolutely dreadfully, I’m really starting to question our ‘ways’ and re-think the way we are doing things. Or not doing things…

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You see, we are a zero routine family. By this I mean that we don’t do anything by the clock. Everything is based loosely around three mealtimes with a bath at the end of the day, but the time that all these components happens depends entirely on what time we get up and more generally what is happening in our lives. And by “our lives”, I really mean mine and Sam’s. So Jack may eat breakfast one day at 7.30am, and the next day at 10.30am. He may eat lunch at 11.45am, he may eat it at 2.45pm. He may nap, he may not. And as for Sonny, I couldn’t tell you how much milk he has each day, or at what times; I couldn’t tell you when he naps, or how long for. The kids are happy, stimulated and flexible, I think, really genuinely so. And we’re having fun as parents. (9pm bath time+ Justin Bieber+ glass of red wine on a Friday night, kinda vibe)

But with the distinct lack of sleep going on around here at night, although I feel bizarrely OK, there are definitely times I’ve started to think, maybe we’re doing something wrong? Maybe Sonny would sleep better if he were in a routine? Maybe he’d settle better? Maybe life would be better!* You see, nearly two and a half years into the parenting job, the intense focus around routine for children still baffles me. Should I start one? Do my kids need one? Why does everyone else seem to have one?

Sorry if I’ve missed something hugely obvious about the need for routine (I know it gets complicated with work – right now I’m on maternity leave but when I worked full time, having no routine was fine; Jack just had to get up earlier…), and as with everything in motherhood, there are a multitude of methods to the madness, every child is different and there are pros and cons to each kind of lifestyle. But what’s your thoughts? Are you like us, dragging your kids around to the beat of your own (selfish? stupid? smug?) drum or do you stick to a routine?

I’ll be posting more soon on how and why we make this approach work for us, but I thought I’d get my thoughts down here first and find out what more of you mamas (& papas – I recently had a dad come up to me and tell me he reads my blog too so I shouldn’t forget our male folk) think on this issue and how you make it work.

Thanks so much for reading,

Emma x

*I happen to think not !

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23 Comments

  1. November 26, 2016 / 9:58 am

    We just kind of fall into bubs routine & work around her. V lucky to be able to. Routine depends on the family & children I figure – whatever works works xx

    • Vic
      November 26, 2016 / 10:30 am

      We don’t have a routine in the daytime. Bath, massage, milk and bed is the only time I keep to – between 6 and 8 pm. I felt really sh*t the other week when I went for a pub lunch with and my 6 month babe was sleeping in her pram. Another mum asked me “when is she due to wake up?” I shrugged my shoulders… I was just feeling pleased she was asleep at all! She’s a reluctant day napper. I then endured a lecture about how her child had been in a clockwork routine at that age and how amazing it was. Maybe I’m projecting on to her but I felt like I was being called a clueless mum.

      • emmaross
        November 29, 2016 / 11:07 am

        argh that mum sounds ummm, annoying!…. i would have reacted exactly like you – a shrug and a smile! well done for getting her to sleep and hope you enjoyed some time off. thanks so much for reading and your comment x

    • Miriam Greaves
      November 26, 2016 / 7:05 pm

      I’m in exactly the same place as you at the moment. An almost 2 year old who sleeps terribly and will only nap in the car and a 4 1/2 month old who is awake every hour at night and barely sleeps in the day. I’m looking at myself these days and questioning everything I’m doing….even though my children are happy. I just need more sleep but that doesn’t make me selfish. I’m a more engaged and happy Mama when I’m not on my knees with exhaustion! But what’s right? I tried sleep training with my eldest and I’ll always regret it – it didn’t work and it caused more tears than I care to remember (not just her but my husband and me too). I now go with the flow a lot more as anything that has ever worked always seems to take U turn a few weeks later and I’m back to where I started. 2 years into this parenting malarkey and I’m now trusting my Mama instinct more than ever. It’s powerful stuff. I’d love to hear other people’s views on this so I’m so glad you’ve written about it. Would I like a bit more routine and sleep? YES! But will it work for my family? Who knows….I think ultimately you’ve got to trust your Mama gut and do what is right for you and your family.

      • emmaross
        November 29, 2016 / 11:13 am

        the mama gut is real hey. ah lovely, i feel for you – we’re right there with you! going with the flow is what its all about though i am sure and we just need to remember that this non sleeping thing is a phase (PLEASE PLEASE !!!) and that’s awful re the sleep training. you’re doing really well, i know it x thanks for taking the time to read this and to comment x

    • emmaross
      November 29, 2016 / 11:06 am

      hey avril – thanks for reading and makes a lot of sense re falling into a routine – that’s the best way 🙂 have a lovely day x

  2. Sarah Hadfield
    November 26, 2016 / 10:06 am

    I was very routine with Henry my first and he was a horrific sleeper till he was three! William is six weeks and though i plan to adopt some kind of bedtime routine in a bid to get back to Netflix binges, I already feel more relaxed and in the mindset that it’s not the end of the world of scrambled eggs isn’t served promptly at 12pm! Enjoying my second so much more due to not being worked up around routine so intend to keep it that way! We’re coping with the routine of school run so far so whatever works and all that!

    • emmaross
      November 29, 2016 / 11:14 am

      ah you sound like you got it down mama 🙂 and yes, scrambled eggs can wait and bring on the netflix binges… thanks for reading sarah x

  3. Patty
    November 26, 2016 / 10:06 am

    We look at what our child needs and she does best on routine. This strict routine started since she wasnt sleeping for 15 months! Woke up every 1,5hour so I was a mess. For us as a family to make it work we all benefit from the routine as in : we get sleep now and we have a plan which makes us feel happy
    She finally sleeps through the night and im a more fun mum again and person yay! It does mean we miss some parties here and there but thats still there in a few years 🙂
    Thanks for all you share, love reading your relaxed lifestyle blogs and your honest stories!

    • emmaross
      November 29, 2016 / 11:15 am

      ah thanks for your helpful and kind comment Patty. sounds like you guys have got it down now and are in a much better place. im so hoping this is just a phase with sonny….. have a lovely day you x

  4. November 26, 2016 / 10:41 am

    I’m not sure how old Sonny is, but I think my boy O is a similar age (just coming up to six months). My other half works long hours and slightly eratic ones and we’ve never been ones for routine anyway (not smug or selfish – just us)! So if our boy had a routine him and his dad would never see each other (not an option). Anyway… I tried to do things the way you’re meant to (cot, routine etc) for a few months and it was horrible. So I decided (out of necessity and desperation) to cosleep (bedshare) and just focus on how O seemed rather than enforce a routine. O had a particularly sleepless patch around 3.5-4.5 months but since then has settled a lot. He was so much happier sleeping with me and from day one we got more than a full nights sleep (almost every night). This has also had a knock on effect on his day time napping and the smile count we get each day 🙂 I think it’s important that he’s not overstimulated or being dragged around all over the place… But generally I think routine isn’t that important as long as he feels secure and reassured in other ways. I watch for his signals for feeding and napping carefully and respond, and I try to avoid him getting upset and crying as much as I possibly can… I know this way is not for everyone but it feels so natural and works well. So far so good anyway – everything’s always changing anyway isn’t it!?! Sorry for the dissertation – I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject recently too 🙂 x

    • emmaross
      November 29, 2016 / 11:17 am

      thanks so much for this! such a helpful and sensible comment. i am right there with you on the whole watching for signals thing and just going with what works for you… i also love that idea of baby just feeling secure and reassured – which i *think* mine is (?) also dont like having him cry etc which i think can come hand in hand with routine x

      • Annie
        December 9, 2016 / 2:36 am

        I am due my baby in 2.5 months! I have thought about routine and what would it look like when maximus (the bump na’me)comes along! I really like what you say about going with mumma instinct and not having routines! I dont have routines in my own life as it makes me feel robotic and some what trapped! So why not incorporate into my child’s life 😀

        • emmaross
          December 15, 2016 / 9:36 am

          exactly my thinking ! adults nor babies are routine…. good luck mama & thanks for resding <3 x

  5. Tracey Bravo
    November 26, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Em, I was just thinking that very thought this morning! Isaac is only 14 weeks old but we have no routine, which means we don’t get upset when it doesn’t work out. I love that Isaac and I can just do what we want when we want to and not tied to times. Not sure how long g it will last as everyone is saying ‘routine’ to me and I can’t imagine going g back to work without one but that isn’t until May!

    • emmaross
      November 29, 2016 / 12:26 pm

      ah hey lovely! so nice to hear from you. sounds like you and Isaac are doing super well and totally in your own groove – YAY! just go with it, and he will thrive, i am sure. cant wait to meet him at Christmas! thanks for reading <3

  6. Kim
    November 26, 2016 / 10:57 am

    I am a routine kinda person (mainly centred around bed time routine). I think it comes from knowing I will be going back to work and I need to be abe to have enough sleep to function for 12 hours at work and leave the house at 7.20am. The down side is that when your routine breaks it feels very stressful. So I am trying my best to be less routine focused with bubba no.2. I think it all depends on your family circumstances and what works best for you. Pros and cons with both.

  7. November 26, 2016 / 11:09 am

    I have a 7 year old and 5 year old and although I never been one for a strong routine, our kids have always been in bed at 7 with exception to holidays and occasions. It has just kind of happened without much effort or drama from very early on and our peaceful evenings have always been appreciated! I do not judge your way of doing things and it sounds like you are working as a team with your babas and it will all figure itself out.xx

  8. Sarah
    November 26, 2016 / 11:32 am

    My understanding from a child development course I once did is that babies benefit from a routine but that it doesn’t matter what time you do things but more the order that you do them. It sounds like you are already doing that by having dinner/bath in the evening and then bed time.
    I am someone who needs routine in my own life and so I benefit from having one for my kids but if you’re not that sort of person then I can’t see restricting yourself being very helpful. At the end of the day, having happy, confident parents with a strong sense of self is much more important than an arbitrary routine. I think you are totally acing it x

  9. Laura
    November 26, 2016 / 11:38 am

    Up to about week 12 of life with baby, we had zero routine. We cosied in bed, we pottered to coffee shops, we napped. My little girls sleep was just bloody awful and my no routine didn’t seem to be working. So many people suggested we start to implement a vague routine and it’s really helped with her sleeping a night. Sleep to promote sleep (or so they say!). I thought I would hate being a mum that had a routine. Now I love it! She has a 45 minute nap in the morning (that’s a bath/shower and potter for me) and an hour and a half in the afternoon (emails, life admin or a nap with my sleeping babe). You just need to do what works! I can only speak for us but a routine helped a lot and now her sleeping at night has drastically improved.

  10. Amy
    November 26, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    I had an obsessive routine with my first, with my second, less so (they’re now 3 and 6). My most obsessive routine was bedtime. I’m a painter and teacher, my husband collects vinyl and loves the freedom of listening to music in the evening. Of course, all of these things you can attempt to do with children in your presence, but to varying levels of success and satisfaction. I aldo felt they were tired around 7-8ish, and ready to give their bodies a rest. As a result of our routine, kids are in bed by 8.15 at the latest, and often ask to go to bed and for the most part sleep well. Reuben is an early bird and up at 6ish most mornings, Franny tends to sleep until 7.30ish depending on whether it’s a school day for me and then we have to be out by 7.30am. What’s my point! I think for my own sanity and to be able to manage the complexities of everyday life post maternity, I needed that one routine, and I believe it did help my kids. I need them to be ready for the physical and mental demands of school (which in year 2 is stupendously crazy!) and even pre-school for Franny. I wanted them to be recharged,and as conventional as it sounds, prepared for the next day to be similar in the morning and evening. It means the days I’m teaching that I don’t have meltdowns ensuring I’m out on time. It also means in the evening are quite calm, absorbed in each other’s company until we go into the snug, calm down, Have a bath. These things have turned into Pavlovian signals where a domino effect of one thing informs the next. When in bed, we leave bedroom doors open, downstairs doors open, have music playing, do not lead a ‘shush’ life and my kids sleep soundly because this is the norm, they’ve never known any different. They don’t wake, and sound and movement is part of their lives. I can then recharge too, I can paint, or do school stuff, or go out. This is not just for my own well being, I feel it does help them, but who really knows, a child is what a child knows! I hope ultimately you find confidence in the choices you make; something about these choices must have been important to you in the first instance to go with them, like they were for me. However, that’s not to say these values may change and to that end, the way you approach them. One belief I hold dear is the organic nature of parenting and the freedom to evolve and adapt an approach when we have a niggle that something is working quite like we’d anticipated.

  11. Laura
    November 26, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    We sort of have a routine in terms of day time naps and bed time. But Emma, ITS GOTTEN WORSE. Rohan woke at 12.30 last night and stayed awake ALL night. So I dont think routine helps one way or the other. If anything it helps me with tidying and making dinner.

  12. Ling
    November 26, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    I have my 3 year old on a routine of sorts, when it comes to meals, naps and bedtimes. Meals is always brekky in the morning (no set time), lunch about noon, dinner 5:30-6pm. He always has a 3hr, sometimes 2hr nap from around 1:30-2pm. I’ve always been rigid with naps, so I have a good 3 hour break to myself, do chores etc. Then bedtime at 8pm. He has a bath every few days when I think.he could do with one! And each day/week we do different things, see different friends… He used to sleep until 8-8:30am every day, until he turned 3, now he gets up at ridiculous times, any time from 5:30am onwards.
    We just kinda fell into this routine. Just do whatever works for you and your lovely boys!

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