Dispatch from the Mom Life: Keeping a Schedule

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Leo is 12 weeks old.

I. KNOW.

I blinked and the kid is cooing and grabbing things and sitting up in the bumbo seat. AND I’m finally starting to feel like I’ve got my feet under me with the whole mom-of-two thing. The key for me is structure.

I was mentioning my schedule on my Instagram stories, and I got a few questions about what that looks like. Which is why I’m pretending to be a mommy blogger for a moment and writing this up. Besides, a lot of my writer friends have new babies and are also still writing and editing books, so this is definitely a craft post, too. Being a write-at-home mom is no joke, guys. You can hardly separate the two jobs. True story: a man once asked me what I do. I told him I write YA novels. “Oh, so you don’t work at all?” he replied. And then I turned him into a pile of ash with the fire of my gaze.

First, a note on developing a schedule. Mine came through a combination of following the kiddo’s lead and then providing a sense of structure around what it seems like he wants. Once you start recognizing the sleepy and hungry and happy patterns, you can anticipate what they’ll need and (hopefully, oh god hopefully) avoid a screaming fit.

I also try to follow the eat-play-sleep suggestion with Leo, which has helped me achieve that elusive unicorn skill of putting the baby down awake and letting him fall asleep on his own (it’s seriously magic). With Freddie I did eat-sleep-play, which meant I relied on nursing him to sleep. We had to do a lot more soothing with him to get him to bed at night. Leo is, thus far, less difficult on that front (PRAISE HANDS).

So here’s what my day with the kiddos looks like.

7am-7:30
Leo and Freddie are awake. Freddie watches Netflix and eats breakfast, I feed Leo. Adam is usually the one who gets up with Freddie, especially if he pops out of bed between 6am-6:30 (as has been his habit … ugh). We tag team showers and getting kids dressed and packing lunch. We’re out the door by 8:40.

9am
Drop Freddie at school (he goes 4 half days a week) and Adam at work. Then off to run errands if I have any. Leo usually snoozes in the car for 20 minutes during the drop offs, but the little stinker loves to wake up the moment Adam gets out of the car. Luckily he’s usually pretty happy to tag along on my errands without too much of a fuss.

10:30
Home to feed Leo, then a little play time on his activity mat or swinging on the porch swing.

Playtime with Leo sometimes involves teaching him the art of the selfie

11am
Leo goes down for a good morning nap. If he doesn’t get this nap, he can be an absolute terror in the afternoon and will not take any more naps and it’s HORRIBLE. This nap is the key to my entire day. This nap is why I don’t meet Adam for lunch anymore. This nap is sacred.

12:30
If Leo’s not awake, then I wake him up, and we head out to pick up Freddie from school at 1pm.

1:30
Home, snack for Freddie, who watches Netflix while I feed Leo (no, we’re not afraid of screen time in this family … ask me to recite every Daniel Tiger song ever. I can do it!). I move Freddie towards nap by 1:45.

You’ll notice “housekeeping” doesn’t appear on my schedule …

2pm
Freddie is down for a nap no later than 2, then I have a little playtime with Leo before putting him down for a nap by 2:30 at the absolute latest. Sometimes if Leo is seeming ready, he goes down at 2pm right after Freddie.

2pm-4pm
If all goes well, both kids are asleep for about two hours. Sometimes it goes less, sometimes more. On bad days, one or both of them completely boycotts the afternoon nap. These days suck and usually involve a lot more television for the big kid.

4:30
Wake up whoever’s still asleep. Snack for Freddie upon wakeup. Feed Leo.

5pm
Pick up Adam from work, then figure out the dinner situation (we’re not meal planners, so every day usually ends with, “so what do you want to do for dinner?” Often the answer involves take-out).

The evenings are Adam’s domain. He usually does bath time around 6:30 or 7pm, with me pitching in as needed. Freddie’s bedtime has been creeping back lately, so he’s usually in bed by 8pm (I want that closer to 7:30). I feed Leo between 7pm-7:30, then he goes to bed.

All good children must be in their beds by 8pm or things start getting screamy around here. Sleep breeds sleep, and structure saves lives (or something). All I know is that when we start deviating from the schedule, a meltdown is usually close behind (sometimes that meltdown is my own).

Some days just wear you out

Freddie sleeps through the night and has since he was about 8 months old. Leo is down to 1 nighttime feed, usually around 3am. Some nights he wakes at midnight and 4am to eat. I just roll with whatever because at this stage Freddie was still waking every 3 hours like clockwork and I’m just so damn thankful that Leo loves his sleep like his mama.

Leo’s still in a bassinet in our room, but pretty soon we’re going to move him to his crib. I want to wean him off the swaddle blanket first before I send him off to his own room.

I’m betting you’re looking at that schedule and wondering, “So Lauren … when do you write the books?” Well … I get stuff done while they’re napping, but it’s not always writing time.

I won’t lie … I also spend a lot of their naps right now dicking around on my phone, because nap time is when I need to decompress from the nonstop parenting extravaganza that occurs when they’re awake. I’ve been going out in the evenings to get work done, thanks to the fabulous work of Adam, my partner in life and crime and parenting. As we get closer to my October deadline, I’ll probably get more serious about using their naps for work.

One day a week I have them both home with me all day, and on those days I usually do a morning outing for Freddie, anything from the local museum to the park to Barnes & Noble to play in the children’s section (bless the Thomas the Tank Engine train table!). And then during Leo’s morning nap Freddie and I will do an activity like play dough or coloring.

Leo can start at the mother’s morning out program at Freddie’s preschool when he’s 6 months old, so sometime early next year he’ll probably head there one or two days a week so I can have a good chunk of time to work. Until then, I’m momming like a boss and writing when I can.

Got any tips for creating a schedule? Share ’em in the comments!

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