Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Routines, or lack thereof

My children are somewhat dirty. Their clothes are clean, and their diapers get changed regularly, but we somehow can’t work regular baths into our routine. And by routine, I mean the haphazard way we’re currently running our lives. I’m not expecting that we’ll be able to come up with a schedule. I have no grand plans for each day to be meticulously planned and flawlessly executed. (If I did, you’d all be well within reason to bring me back to my senses through whatever means necessary.) But it seems like every day we’re just making it up. There’s no getting-up routine. No bedtime routine. No playtime routine. Sure, there are some things we’re starting to get the hang of - middle of the night feedings, to some extent, some days (not that they necessarily go smoothly, but I know what’s supposed to happen). Going out (it still takes forever to get out the door, but it usually doesn’t feel out of control). But for the most part we’re just letting the kids sleep when they sleep and working the rest of it around that.

Except that this feels totally out of control to me. As I said, I don’t expect any formal schedule, but in the sleep-addled early morning, I’d like to know that whenever the babies wake up (one of them, or both together) first we ____, then _____, then _____. Or for naps - where do they sleep? Lately they’ve been falling asleep while nursing, but waking up if I move them. So I spent several hours on Sunday with both babies asleep on my lap. Adorable, yes, and okay when J was around to bring me lunch or whatever, but not really the routine I’d like to establish.

And of course the baths. We had been doing bathtime whenever the babies seemed awake enough, generally midday, sometimes morning, sometimes afternoon. And not very regularly. Baths seem to get pushed aside - not because we don’t think they’re important, but because they’re a bit of a logistical challenge - the babies have to be awake, but not needing to eat nor having just eaten. And there have to be enough hands available. So we’re trying to work bathtime into our bedtime routine. That is, the bedtime routine we’re trying to create.

But then, our bedtime routine is sorely lacking in other respects, too, so it’s not surprising that we’re having trouble with bathtime logistics. I’d tell you what we do, except that it’s really not working at all. So instead, I’m looking forward to seeing what other people do. What are your routines? What works?

(I’m hoping the fact that this was the topic of Emmie’s most recent Twinkle Hack Tuesday means I’m right on time to get lots of useful advice. Or even just a little bit of only vaguely useful advice. Anything will help at this point, even if it’s “oh, I can’t see us doing it that way!”)


  1. Here's what we had been doing. At seven I'd bathe one then feed him and put him down. Then bathe, feed, and put down the other one. Of course by then the first one was screaming. I tried swaddling, not swaddling, didn't matter, they didn't sleep. The only consistant thing is ocean noises at night. The last two days we did bath time in the middle of the day to see if that would help. It didn't.

    What I'm going to start doing is bath time around six. Feed, swaddle, and put somewhere. Maybe in a bouncy seat because that's the only place Nicholas will sleep at night anyway (for the last two nights anyway he keeps changing it) and at six I'm still alone. After the first one is done, try the second.

    In the morning our only routine is that I change their clothes and brush their hair. It varies on what time that happens depending on how much sleep I'm trying to get.

    Naps happen anywhere. Pack N play, swing, on me, on the floor. Whereever. No rhyme or reason to the rest of the day. Just eating and sleeping and trying to maintain my sanity and not let both of them start crying at once.

  2. We're only getting into a regular "schedule" now, around seven months. We didn't really have one when the twins were younger because they'd just sleep about 1-2 hours of being awake. Now, we've gradually evolved to having a morning nap around 2 hours after they first wake up, an afternoon nap around 1-2pm and, sometimes, a late afternoon nap. But, as I said, this hasn't developed until about seven monthish.

  3. I will be checking in and reading what I hope will be lots of helpful advice. I fear we'll be in the same boat ourselves.

  4. I don't have twins so this is a bit of assvice, but just to say that at 6-8 weeks (how old are they exactly?), I counted myself lucky when the baby slept. Anywhere, anytime. Often in my lap. I can see how that would be trickier with 2, though. Maybe try a swing or a bouncy chair for naps?

    Also to say here's no harm in TRYING to establish a routine (it may give you some sanity if nothing else), but don't feel bad if it doesn't stick for a few months. Or if you emerge with some sort of a routine that lasts for a few weeks and then doesn't work and needs to be changed up.

    And I think a dirty baby at that age is no big deal ... good lord how dirty can they get???

    Have fun and hang in there --

  5. Oh, sweetie, you're doing great. At 6-8 weeks, we had no routine, either. Finally, at about 8-10 weeks, we started trying to establish a regular bedtime & routine (swaddle, nurse, lullaby CD). As for daytime naps, we only very recently have established a schedule for that--up til now, his total hours of sleep were consistent, but not the timing.
    For the first few months, I just anticipated that he'd sleep a large portion of the day, and try to work things (chores, tummy time, etc.) into whatever awake periods I could.

    As for bathing--I guess A is veeeery dirty, as we bathe him once a week, mid-day.

  6. Cass: I responded on my blog, but I'll post it here too since you've got quite a conversation going: Hmm... I'm amazed that I can remember anything from back then, but the more I think about it, the more it seems that we did have a semblance of a routine emerging at about 2 months. Actually, it was more like I had daily "goals". We were lucky to ahve quite a bit of helpo in the beginning, though God knows we needed it. I was so out of shape I was on a walker after the boys were born, and my docs really didn't want me handling things completely alone for the first 8 weeks. My MIL lives 3 miles away, and was a Godsend, and my mom came regularly from NY. I've posted before about how we handled sleep back then. We got up quite late (9ish), and then we'd take turns taking showers during the first kid's nap. My goals consisted of having at least 2 periods a day where they slept at the same time - even if just for a half hour. To do that, we fed them at the same time, burped well, walked them around swaddled, then used the swings. In the afternoons, I'd often take a long walk. I walked for hours, enjoying the peace and the quiet, the time to think, and the chance to rehab after 13.5 weeks of bed rest. It gave me confidence to go out walking with my dog and two babies and know I could handle it. My other goal was to get out of the house at least once. I usually went somewhere with one baby (just Target, grocery shopping, etc.) while DH or my MIL had the other, but occasionally went with 2 (though not to the grocery store). I always felt better when I was able to get out. In the evenings, I made dinner while DH or my MIl or someone watched the babies. My supply was huge in the mornings and not enough in the evenings, so I always evened things out by having someone give the boys a bottle of expressed milk in the evenings (we would have survived bfing without this, but it worked well for us). I loved making dinner then - it was my "break". We'd eat in shifts, then rock and shush fussy babies for a couple of hours, then do baths and finally bedtime (quite late). I know now that they shouldn't have been up anywhere near that long at that age. If I had it to do over again, I'd do whatever I could to get them down by 7 or 8, even if they woke again an hour or so later, and consider that waking the first "night waking". I'd have the goal to not have them be awake longer than a couple of hours, and avoid the cycle of overtiredness leading to extreme fussiness leading to dropping from sheer exhaustion. The predictable 2 nap pattern didn't really emerge for us until the boys were just over 4 month old (just under 3 months adjusted), but it got soooo much easier at that point!
    P.S. My babies were dirty at that age too. We eventually did mini sponge baths at diaper changes. One time we'd do the "legs and bits", the next time, the neck folds, ears, and face, etc.

  7. I've been digging through other people's posts on this issue, and am collecting the links here for easy reference - for me, for J, for anyone else who needs it.

    There was a post on sleeping arrangements over at Tertia's a while back.

    Jody has a whole series on Attachment Parenting and multiples - this post on schedules is relevant to the topic at hand.

  8. Bathing is toward the bottom of our priority list, to be honest, but the one thing we discovered was that she would be very alert afterward, so we generally don't do it before bed. She gets bathed only when she really needs it, which is once or twice a week. We do interim wash-downs (neck folds, etc.) just when we notice that she's gungy or smells too much like rancid milk.

    As for sleeping during the day...oy. When they fall asleep on you, YOU can't sleep, though it does feel delicious. (Although, with two, I'm guessing it's a bit of a challenge finding a position that's even remotely comfortable.) Most often, we would use the bouncy chair, up till around three months. That worked much of the time.

    Best to you, as always!


  9. Here at seven weeks old today, no daytime routine to speak of but we are getting into a nightime routine. Around 7 or 8 at night they have a bottle of breastmilk topped off with some formula (if need be), then a diaper change, a swaddle and a few minutes of rocking with each baby, then into the crib they go. This works about 90% of the time and they'll drop off to sleep on their own, even if they fuss for a few minutes first.

    I try to alternate days for baths and just do one baby a day, but even that falls by the wayside sometimes. Sad, too, 'cause my tots need baths that often if not more often. They are messy eaters from the bottle and get seriously funky necks from the fermenting milk/formula that can accumulate there. Ick. I love 'em, but ick.

    I am trying to get the babies to nap in the pack and play, but they greatly prefer the couch. Fine for now, but it won't work when they're even a tiny bit more mobile than they are. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to when and how long they sleep during the day. Some days they sleep so much, other days hardly at all.

    The one consistently reliable thing is that the babies love the swing. About 75% of the time you drop one in they'll be happy to stay in there for an hour or more. Hallelujah!

    Leaving the house is still a huge ordeal. Haven't got that down quite yet.

    Sounds like you're doing great!

  10. I'm with Bugs on the once or twice a week bath. The instructor at my prepared childbirth class said the same thing. They really don't need the full dip every day. Or even every other day. As long as you keep the important parts clean. I would think that damp washcloths and baby wipes would go a long way in that respect.

    To me, it sounds like you're doing great. I'll bet that a semblance of a routine will come at some point.

  11. I think I had two things going for me when my boys were born. First, they were easy babies and I pumped and supplemented so after the first week or so they ate every 3-4 hours. So keep that in mind before you read this because I had a very easy time establishing a schedule. I had no choice because I knew I was going to back to work.

    Until i went back to work when they were three months this was the schedule:
    6am-ish they would wake up and we'd feed them. Husband would go to work. And then I'd bathe whoever looked sleepier while the other one lay in the packnplay. Then I put baby 1 down while I bathed baby 2 and they would then nap together in the packnplay while I showered and did a general pick-up of the house, made phone calls, figured out dinner plan, etc. When they woke to eat again they were fed and changed and then I did any errands with them and brought them home to eat and sleep again. I might do a load of laundry, get dinner started, and then I NAPPED too. When they woke up and were done eating, then I started cooking dinner and at some point husband would get home and take over kid duty while I finished dinner. We would eat with them in infant seats on the table watching us and then feed them again before we went to bed.

    It was flexible. Some days no baths, some days two naps for me. but no matter what i always took a shower and I always fed them together. In the first week that often meant waking the other one up to eat but they quickly caught on and it made things much more manageable.