I am ALL about keeping my baby on her schedules and keeping up with her routines. She is a happier baby as a result of these things. I make sure I am home for naps, and I am on schedule 99% of my days. Caroline thrives as a result, and I enjoy that my life is predictable and something I can plan for. I take comfort in knowing that my daughter has such great schedules and routines, she is hardly ever fussing when she is awake. She is not fussing out of hunger or tiredness- that's for sure!
When a special occasion comes along, however, I think it is important to put the schedule second (while still keeping it in mind). These occasions only happen so many times a year. It might be a birthday celebration, Christmas, or the 4th of July. In my family we got together for EVERY celebration (big or small). These are some of the most special memories I have from my childhood, and I want my child to have these special moments to look back on as well.
If these occasions can be worked around the nap schedule or bedtime- great. But if they can't, please still participate. Don't stay home and miss out. It's one day of a missed bedtime. It's one day of a later nap. It will all be ok, and it will all be worth it.
Yesterday was the 4th of July. My daughter's first 4th of July. I will admit that we don't always go see fireworks because of how late they are and the fact that my husband gets up so early in the morning (as you all know by now). Now that we have a daughter, however, it was important to me that we go watch fireworks. So, we decided to go pretty last minute (the afternoon of), but we made it work. Caroline goes to bed at 7:45 pm these days, and the fireworks were going to start at 9:15 pm. I was envisioning putting Caroline to bed as usual, and then waking her and heading out for fireworks around 8:45 pm. Once we got to talking about it, however, it seemed silly to do that and we decided instead to get to the fireworks early and try and get her to sleep on the blanket there. I wasn't sure how this was all going to work out. I worried that she would be so excited to be out that she wouldn't nap and she'd be fussy the whole time. It all worked out great, however.
- I fed Caroline at her usual 7 pm feed
- Instead of putting her to bed we then packed up our gear and headed out
- We took two important things to simulate our bedtime routine: the sound machine & her sleep sack
Caroline knows her routine so well. She knows that the sound going on means it is time to sleep, and she knows that the sleep sack means bedtime.
- Caroline was excited to be leaving the house and wide eyed at the excitement
- We arrived at our destination, put our blankets out, turned the sound machine on, put Caroline in her sleep sack and laid her down on the blanket
- She was content, but not sleeping (There was a lot of noise from children on the playground next to us, and too many things to look at)
- I picked her up and walked around (The walking makes it so she can't focus on anything too intently)
- She went right out in my arms
- I came back to the blanket and lay down with her
- We put the sound machine between the noisy playground and Caroline, and she stayed asleep right until about the time the fireworks were going to start. She lifted her head, so I took the opportunity to just go ahead and get her up (the whole point of being here was for her to see fireworks, not to sleep through them)!
- We enjoyed some snacks and waited for the show
- She was happy, excited to be out, and she enjoyed some snacks with us
- On the ride home she dozed a bit here and there
- I gave her a quick feeding when we got home and put her in her crib
- She was out like a light
This morning, we were all tired, so when I woke with my 7 am alarm to find Caroline still sleeping, I hit the snooze button and we got up at 8 am instead. As a result, our schedule today will be 1 hour later than normal, but she'll never know the difference. Odds are we'll catch up somehow anyway to the old schedule (she always seems to).
Changing our schedule last night, was so worth it in the end. We made a special memory last night, everything turned out just fine, and everyone had a great time. Schedules are so important, routines are so important, but special occasions are just as important, and taking time to enjoy the moments is so very important as well.