Feed on

Respek da Schedule

Once upon a time, we could take Simon anywhere with us. If we were ready for dinner, all we had to do was put Simon in the car and take him along with us; he was certain to quietly hang out or sleep through the whole meal, depending on whether he was in the mood to take in the scenery or doze a little.

During those early months, our lives were ordered around three-hour intervals. Simon didn’t really know the difference between day and night, but every three hours he needed to be changed, eat, possibly played with, and then coaxed back to sleep. In hindsight, those were liminal days in which we existed outside the schedule of basic society.  We were no more or less tired at 2:00 a.m. than we were at 2:00 p.m. We merely coasted on adrenaline and cat-naps from the beginning of one three hour unit of time to another.

As Simon grew older and became more aware of the world around him (and as his tummy got bigger), he began to settle into something resembling a schedule. The upside of this is that Matt and I now get much more sleep at night-we usually wake only once between 10 or 11 at night and dawn’s pearly fingers. The downside is that we have to respect Simon’s schedule, making us much less flexible than we used to be.

We first learned this on a Saturday about two months ago. Simon went out to a cafe with us in the morning, then browsed the Cherokee Triangle Art Festival and hit a second cafe in the afternoon. By dinner time he was pretty sick of being in his car seat or stroller. But Matt and I had plans to go out for dinner with a friend, so we decided to put him back in the car seat, take him along, and trust that he’d doze off or quietly hang out with us.

Simon had other plans, and going gently into that good night was not on the list. He fussed in the car. He fussed in the restaurant. He fussed when I nursed him at the restaurant. He fussed after I nursed him at the restaurant. Before our food could ever arrive at the table, I had a red-faced, angry, and loud baby that no amount of holding, rocking, bouncing, or cooing at was going to make happier.

So I did what no doubt many a parent has done before me: I ran the proverbial white flag up the pole, excused myself, and got my food to go.  What’s more, I acknowledged that in pushing Simon so, I had not been a very good parent to him. I had earned his fit of temper for not recognizing his needs and respecting his schedule.

That was the last time we tried to push Simon so hard, but not the last time we paid for him being off schedule. Just last Thursday Simon and I had a hard day despite my best efforts to keep him on track. He woke up, nursed, and had some oatmeal just like he always does. Then, about 2 hours later he was ready for his morning nap. Also just like always.

Only Thursday morning he woke up early from the nap, insufficiently refreshed to be in a good mood, which meant he had several fitful feedings and some fitful playtime before it was time for his afternoon nap, from which he also awoke early. It was just one of those days. Thankfully, he righted himself Friday and managed to eat when hungry, play when awake, and sleep well when tired.

So how does one keep a baby on this best-case schedule? I still haven’t figured it out. Some days, like when we were on vacation, we do all the wrong things and he does just fine. Other days, like this past Thursday, I do my best to follow his cues and still fumble. I’m sure I will get better at this as we go along. But one thing I can say for sure is that it will be a long, long time before I put a strung out, over-tired baby in a car seat and assume that everything will be “just fine” once we get to our destination!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.