I've been thinking a lot about routines the past few days, or should I say my lack of them!
Getting time to myself seems to be harder and harder, Noah is awake a lot more in the day, having given up his morning nap he can pretty much stay awake through the morning school run and hence he is wanting attention from as soon as we're home until after his dinner time breastfeed where he usually fall asleep on my knee for perhaps an hour.
He is such a contented baby, happy to squirm around on the floor or sit up and bash at his toys in the day time, providing I am near by and giving him all my attention that is.
The early months are easy, babies love to sleep and are happily occupied without a lot of interaction, meaning you can have a newborn and find you have a lot of time to get things done,however that all changes around the 6 month mark doesn't it?
Suddenly the toys are not as interesting and don't hold attention for as long, the places that used to give you time hands free no longer have the same effect.
The play mat was at one point a favourite place, laying on his back pulling and kicking at his toys would give me enough time to wash the pots or hoover, that was until he realised he could see and reach better sat up, then the playnest become his favourite place and he would sit happily there for a good while, now however he is increasingly mobile, he rolls around and tries to escape the playnest resulting in him getting frustrated that it is keeping him enclosed now he much prefers being on the floor starting out on his playmat but very quickly rolling to the middle of the room.
Being more mobile and less sleepy means day times seem to pass in a blur,our day normally starts with us getting up around 6am to get Jake ready for his paper round and the other two ready for school, Noah is normally happy to sit in his playnest for the morning rush hour happy to sit and observe the chaos around him until we go out the door on the school run, then once we're home the hours pass with peek a boo, story books and tickling toes and before I know it its the school run again and the older three are back home.
I love these days the smiles and giggles, the excitement at exploring new things, the fun and the snuggles are precious, but they are tiring, especially with the needs of the older children to juggle too.
It is full on, with no breaks.
I've never been a huge routine follower, always more of a go with the flow and hope for the best, gentle parenting, baby led weaning, co sleeping, breastfeeding,hippie type. But I am finding things especially hard to manage at the moment.
Not the children per say, but for me, it seems the days simply do not have enough hours in them anymore.
I know a routine may be needed in order for me to actually get something done without a baby in my arms or someone calling out 'mum'.
Sleep is a particular area where there is no routine at all really and it is, I guess, the one area which I do need to alter.
I also know that it is my own doing that have made Noah so much happier in my arms, as it is as much for my benefit as his, when I keep him close on my knee.
I have never been a fan of daytime naps upstairs in cots, I simply don't like to leave Noah upstairs in the day time, I just can't bring myself to put him up in the room alone so far away from me, and he is too big for his moses basket now, so day time naps are on my knee, and as lovely as these snuggles are they are not helping Noahs independence and self settling abilities, instead he seems to be only truly content in my arms or within reach of me.
The snuggly night times are lovely too, it makes breastfeeding much easier having him in bed with me, but this means up until now I have not really thought much about a bedtime routine, the older children go to bed anywhere between 8.30 and 10pm and so Noah usually naps in the evenings after a feed in my arms until they are all in bed and by then when I do put him down, he normally wakes straight back up and I feed him again, then for my own ease I end up keeping him on my knee knowing that's where he will be settled and peaceful giving me a few hours to frantically tap away at my keyboard trying to get the work done that I have missed out when playing the day away.
I know this stage like all others does not last forever and I try to remember this when I am still awake at midnight trying to get everything done that needs to be with a tied baby still on my knee.
Somebody asked me the other day if he slept well, he does sleep well... providing he is with me. Does he sleep alone through the night - no.
I'm constantly conflicted into if I do need to alter this, or is it simple OK as it is?
On one hand I really do need some time in the evenings to get at least something done, and I guess having a few hours uninterrupted sleep would be nice, but on the other hand I am not sure how to change things or even if I really want to move past the baby in arms stage just yet.
When the others were younger, night times were always organised even if the days were manic and lacked routine, I always said I could always cope with the days as nights were my time, tea bath bed for 7pm. I could give up the daylight hours whole heartily as I still had time to do everything else once the children were all asleep.
I'm not quite sure whats happened but its been quite a while since that sort of evening routine was followed older children bring homework, a love for computer games and a reluctant to bath every night all of which have some what altered that organised evening sequence.
But prior to Noah it didn't mater so much as with growing children the evenings may become busier but the daytimes get emptier and because I had the daytimes to myself evenings didn't seem so important. and therefore the evening routines slipped.
So perhaps I need a new routine, how do I get some time to myself if day time is filled with the babyness that is so very important in these quick passing months, and my evenings filled with teenage troubles and my nights interrupted with co sleeping breastfeeding?
I certainly won't get my evenings back fully when the older children still need me as well and they certainly don't want to go to bed at 7pm
How do I make a routine work?
One which works for us all, one that works for teenagers and a baby, that gives me my time in the early evening as well as making sure everyone else has their own time and needs met.
Or maybe there really isn't a need to change anything at all, perhaps I have been right with my no hard routines approach, because right now just for a little longer I am going to remember that Noah will only be small enough to fit in my arms for such a short time, I will continue to savoir each sleepy snuggle and gummy smile as he wakes up safe in my arms. Knowing that soon enough these days will have passed and a new normal will have worked itself out.