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Thursday, April 14, 2016

BFBN DAY: Kim's Scheduling Advice with 3 Under 3



Welcome to Babywise Friendly Blog Network (BFBN) Day! Each month we will get the pleasure of featuring a guest blogger from the BFBN.

Today, I am honored to welcome Kim from Team Cartwright. Her post is all about her personal experience on implementing schedules with her 2.5 year old and now 2 month old twins! Her life sounds like it is so manageable when you read the post below, although I know she must be super woman to be implementing the schedule so well! Enjoy the read! Thank you for sharing, Kim!

I will be posting about creative ways to involve your toddler (so you can get things done) over at The Journey of Parenthood if you want to check that out as well. Enjoy!

Click here to head over and read my post at The Journey of Parenthood...

KIM'S SCHEDULE WITH 3 UNDER 3...

I am a schedule person.  I like to know when things are happening.  I like having a predictable routine for my days.  When I had kids, I knew I wanted to have them on a schedule as much as possible.  I know I do really well that way, and I think children do too.  With Ben, it took a few months, but we were able to get into a predictable routine.  I loved it!  I love that I know when he is going to be hungry.  I know when to expect him to be tired.  More than that he knows what to expect from his day.  He goes to bed with a good attitude.  I can predict his hunger and plan accordingly.  I know when we can have events and outings.








When I found out I was expecting I knew I would work hard to get the new baby on a schedule as well.  When I found out it was going to be twins, well, I knew a schedule was a must, or chaos would ensue.  As with all schedules and little kids, our routine is a work in progress.  It isn't perfect by any means, but here is what we are doing so far.



I try to  work the girls' schedule into Ben's schedule.  Yes, we are a little limited in what we can do sometimes.  But Ben has had a major life change just by the girls being born, so I didn't want to mess with his day too much.  Because of this I take a few liberties with some Babywise ideas.  I let the girls nap on the go sometimes.  I didn't start aiming for a real routine until the girls were almost a month old.  We had a lot of visitors and it wasn't worth it to me to try to start a schedule we couldn't maintain.  Plus, these visitors were there to see the girls.  I valued that time together over napping in their beds or sleeping on schedule during the day.



One thing I did start as soon as possible was a wake time.  This is something I can control that helps set a pattern to the day, but doesn't keep people from seeing the girls.  Ben's wake time is 7 am.  (7:15 is the goal, but that doesn't happen much anymore.)  I set the girls to wake at 8am.  I had a few reasons for this.  One, it gave me time to get up and get Ben settled with his breakfast.  I wanted to make sure Ben still felt important and got the attention he needed.  This extra time in the morning gives us a chance to focus on Ben at the beginning of the day.  I think that helps set the tone for his day, getting love and attention right away.  A second reason for this time is I found with Ben that wake time has a way of creeping back.  Ben started with an 8am time.  He is now 7am.  I didn't want to start too early because I know eventually it will move back.  Plus that gave me some wiggle room without moving too early in the morning.  Before the girls were born I could get up and be ready for the day before Ben was up.  My goal is to reach that point with all three kids.  Right now, sleep is the priority, so I am not waking up earlier than necessary.  8 am seemed like a good time to try first.



The second thing I did for the girls was to set more of a parent led timing for nursing.  I know not everyone agrees with that, but I really think it works.  I start with going every 2.5 hours during the day.  (I should note that as soon as the girls were over their birth weight, we started letting them sleep til they wake on their own at night.  Like I said, sleep is awesome, so no waking them up if they aren't hungry.)  Doing this helps give structure to the day.  I try to get as many feedings during the day as possible to help the girls grow.  By trying to nurse every 2.5 hours I make sure to wake them enough during the day to get adequate wake time.  (I have read that babies have one long sleep time in a twenty four hour period.  I want that long time to go along with when I sleep.  So by having more frequent wakings I avoid them having that period in the middle of the day.)  As the girls have grown, I have spread some of those feedings out a bit.  Now during the day the range from 2.5-3 hours between feedings.  We have the occassional 3.5 hour spacing, but that really only happens when we are out and about.



Having a parent led schedule like this allows me to still get us out, because I know when the girls are most likely to eat again.  This is especially important as I do have twins.  Now, I know it is legal to nurse in public.  I know nursing is natural and nothing to hide.  However, I am not super comfortable with nursing in public.  I nurse the girls at the same time during the day (huge time saver).  It is hard to be discrete with two babies going at it.  As such I prefer to be home, or in another private place.  I use the My Brest Friend nursing pillow, which is awesome.  But it is huge.  So having that pillow available is important as well.  By planning out the girls feedings I can nurse them effectively, but still get out of the house.  I want to note that while I do feed on a schedule, if the girls show signs on being hungry at non-nursing times I of course feed them.  I am not a slave to the clock, I try to use the clock as a tool.  I also want to point out that having a parent led schedule does not mean your milk supply will dry up.  I have heard that from people.  I am actively nursing twins on a schedule, and both are growing very well.



With feeding times established I try to follow an eat, play, sleep routine.  It doesn't always work perfectly.  Sometimes the sleep part is a bit lacking.  Sometimes the play part is really just eating, then the girls pass back out.  Evenings are still a bit more fluid, so I will talk about that seperately.



All that being explained, here is our normal day with a 2.5 year old and 2 month old twins.



7am: Ben gets up and he gets breakfast.  He runs around and plays while Pat and I get breakfast and organized for the day.



7:45 am: Girls get up.  Truth, this time varies from 7:30-8.  We are aim for closer to 8, but they usually don't last that long.  Plus if we have to be anywhere in the morning I get them up before 8.



7:50 am: Girls nurse.  I count this as their first meal of the day.  It takes on average 30-45 minutes.  During this time Ben plays on his own.  We watch Good Morning America so I feel like I am caught up on the world.  Ben brings me books and toys to play with and works on his breakfast.



8:30-9am: If we are home for the morning this is play time.  I put the girls on the floor and all four of us just hang out and play.  This is also when we often face time with Meo.  Ben loves to whip out the Ipad and call people.  His chants of 'Call Bo!' are what usually prompts this call.  (His ms sound a lot like bs still.)  If we are leaving the house this is a frantic time of running around and getting packed up to leave.  Well, that's for me.  I get Ben dressed, the girls dressed, and let them play while I get everything ready to go.



9am: If we are home the girls head up to their bassinet for first nap of the day.  A couple of days a week Ben gets a bath, and I clean the bathroom while he is in the tub.  If it isn't a bath day we get things done in the kids' room.  Right now we are still working on organizing clothes for the girls.  They are growing so fast, I am constantly putting aside what doesn't fit anymore, while trying to dig out anything I want to be sure they wear while it fits.  Clothing has such a narrow window at this age.  Ben runs around his room to 'help' while I try to wade my way through the piles of clothes.  If we aren't doing that we are cleaning something downstairs.



9:30am: Ben goes into independent play.  He still does it in his crib.  I have tried him just in his room, but he still prefers the crib time.  I am not arguing.  He can be contained in his crib as often as he wants. :)  While he is safe and the girls are working on their nap, I grab my shower and get myself ready.  I try to get any chores done that I don't want toddler help with.  If we are leaving later in the morning I try to get everything ready to go during this time period.



10:30- 10:45am:  Everyone up some time in this period.  Ben gets dressed if he isn't yet.  I get the girls up and we all head back downstairs.  Girls nurse together.



11:15am: We head out if we are going out midday.  This is when we run errands usually.  It is also when we leave if we are having lunch at the office.  Sometimes we just go play outside.  If we aren't leaving the house, the kids go back into play time.  The girls get some floor and tummy time.  Ben helps me with any chores that need doing.  This is also a time where we might color or try to cook something together.



12pm: Lunch!  If we are home the girls move upstairs to their bassinets for another nap.  Otherwise they just nap on the go.  (I know that isn't ideal, but Ben does better with leaving the house most days of the week.  As this midday nap is one of the early ones to go, I'm not super worried about them getting used to it being in the same place every day.)  After lunch we color, do chores, or have free play.  Some days Ben takes forever to eat, some days he is super speedy, so it varies.



1:15pm: Girls nurse together.  This is usually a longer feeding.  Ben gets to watch Super Why during this time.  I watch it with him and we talk about letters.  He really knows his letters and honestly I think Super Why has helped so much.  Whatever show we are watching I try to pause and ask Ben questions about shapes, colors, numbers, letters, etc.  This way it is a bit of a learning experience, and Ben is happy while the girls eat.



2:15pm: Ben into his nap time.  The girls take their next nap in their bouncers.  When they are better at napping I will move them upstairs for it.  But right now it is easier on my to have them downstairs and nearby.  During this time I pump, prep dinner, and do anything else I need to do (blog, pay bills, make appointments, etc).  I try to work on all the projects around the house that have been put off forever.



4pm: Girls nurse together.  Ben is still in nap time at this point.



5pm: Ben gets up, if he isn't up already.  It is usually some time between 4:30 and 5, but by 5 the latest.  I work on any dinner prep that needs to be done.  Pat is home by this time.  Depending on the weather and what I need to do for dinner, he might take Ben to the park, or the whole family may go out for a bit.  Otherwise just playing and the general evening craziness.



6pm: Dinner.  The girls doze in their bouncers during this time, a little evening nap.



6:30pm: Family time.  We usually watch one of Ben's shows or movies.  Girls nurse together.



7pm: Ben into jammies.  More family time, really just hanging out together.  Girls are generally still awake at this point, but we are putting them into their bouncers to settle in for the night.



7:30pm: Ben to bed.  Either Pat or I go up with Ben, brush his teeth, sit on the potty, and prayers.  The other parent hangs out with the girls, bouncing them to settle in for the night.  The other parent joins bedtime for songs and hugs.



7:45pm:  This time on used to be time for just Pat and me.  The girls aren't ready to go to bed for real this early yet though.  We do work on settling them down a bit.  We try to get them to fall asleep intheir bouncers.  They are mainly passed the need to cluster feed during this time, but sometimes one or both of them need a little snack.  We are fortunate because their 'witching hour' is very light, and sometimes doesn't really happen.  They are a little fussy around this time, but usually the bouncing calms them and lets them rest.



9pm: The girls and I head upstairs for one last feeding, then straight to bed in their bassinet.  This feeding generally takes 45 minutes to an hour.  Pat comes up to transfer them to their bassinet to try to make it as smooth a transition as possible.  Then we go to bed too!  I try to line up their longest sleep with my own sleep time.  Pretty soon this feeding will transition to a dream feed as we will put the girls to real bed earlier.  They aren't ready for that yet though.



During the night they have settled in to only waking once or twice each.  Ali tends to wake around 3:30 and 5:30, Sammy around 4:30.  It sounds annoying to have them up so much, but I actually prefer to have them wake one at a time.  With one I can nurse lying down and still doze a little.  When they both wake up at the same time I have to either sit up awake and nurse them together, or Pat has to snuggle and calm one while I feed the other.  We had gotten down to one wake per girl, but I think they are gearing up for the 3 month growth spurt, because they are back up to two.



A note on the night feedings- now that the girls have gone til 2am or later pretty consistently we offer the pacifier if they wake up earlier than that.  If that doesn't help them sleep, then I will feed them.  I do this to make sure that I am feeding them because they are hungry, and not just because they are awake.  I used to worry about doing it this way, but my mom pointed out that if a baby is hungry they will keep fussing or cry.  They won't just go back to sleep, so you will know that they do indeed need to nurse.  But if they are just fussing they will go back to sleep and you won't create a wake up-eat association.  It worked really well with Ben and I think it is working with the girls as well.



That is our lives with the girls at 2 months.  Of course the exact times vary as the girls grow.  They are starting to be able to have more three hour stretches between meals in the morning.  Their naps are getting better as they get bigger, and their nighttime sleep is improving.  They have both slept through the night for about 8 hours!  This is not an every night occurrence, but sleeping through the night is defined as 6 hours, and they are both hitting that consistently.  Our lives are busy, and I want to point out not every day runs perfectly.  Naps don't go well, someone wants to eat more frequently, or nights don't go well.  But overall the girls are doing really well.  I love babywise because of the structure it gives us.  The girls are eating enough, as evidence by their growth.  They get enough rest.  They are happy girls and fun to be around!  I think the biggest way to help good behavior in kids is to have them full and rested.  I can tell when Ben is too tired by how his behavior deteriorates, and the same is true for the girls.  Their fussiest times come after being awake too long and when they are over stimulated.  Having a schedule takes a lot of guess work out of why my girls cry.  I know when they last ate and how long until they expect to eat again.  I know if they had a bad nap I need to really do what it takes to get them to sleep well the next nap.



Beyond good behavior in the kids, the schedule lets us get out!  We leave our house frequently during the week!  I am comfortable taking all three kids by myself, and most outings are successful.  I really think this is because they are all well rested and the girls are fed on a consistent schedule.  And now they can take a bottle sometimes, freeing us up even more!  Sure, some sacrifices need to be made.  But I know it is worth it.  I think Ben has transitioned to life with two more kids so well in large part because his needs are still being met.  The schedule lets us fit the girls into our lives, and we can make sure everyone gets most of what they need.



It isn't always easy to implement a schedule.  There is a lot to keep track of, but it is so worth it to have one in place.  I do want to emphasize for anyone reading this that just because this is the plan, it does not mean that every day runs perfectly!  Sometimes seeing a schedule can be stressful if we think we have to nail it every time.  Things go wrong, but having a schedule makes it much easier to get back on track when things go awry.  I hope seeing what our day looks like helps others figure out the best way to structure their own days.  And I hope people can see that schedules are possible, even with new born twins and a toddler.  It doesn't hold you back, it gives you the freedom to really enjoy your time and your children!
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