Life with an infant is anything but routine. Life with a three year old requires a routine. Mix these two together and life is pretty darn entertaining. I use the word entertaining in a sometimes “you just have to laugh” way. It’s been three months since I returned to work and it’s been anything but routine. With that being said, we’ve been working hard on finding a new routine after maternity leave and it has been interesting to say the least.
Going back to work, I knew we were heading into our busy time of the year. I also knew with the holidays and various things we had scheduled, Little Man was about to be very overwhelmed with everything. We very quickly tried to work on finding a new routine after maternity leave while working around Baby B’s schedule. Not only did Little Man need a routine but I am a creature of routine. When it gets thrown off, I get more stressed out.
Establishing A Bed Time Routine
There is no doubt, the hardest part of finding a new routine after maternity leave was bedtime for Little Man. While I was home Little Man had a bedtime that varied. It depended on what Baby B was doing, what projects or games he and daddy had planned each evening and where we had to be the next morning. Getting him back into daycare meant getting him back on a bedtime routine. From brushing our teeth to reading a book we tried to keep it to time spent focusing on just him.
Some nights it is mommy, some nights it is daddy. Either way, his bedtime is all about him. Not only was he still overwhelmed with the idea of a new brother (who he wants to be around constantly), there was also a little bit of jealously left as well. Spending time with him was something he not only needed at night but we needed as well. On nights we don’t get that time to relax together, it’s a lot harder to get him to bed.
Baby B is just now starting to get his bed time routine figured out. Some days are better than others and we are far from anything exact. On the nights we get lucky and bed time only takes an hour I get to enjoy a little extra time with Little Man. Most nights Baby B takes a little bit longer so Little Man and I try and fit a book and a snuggle in. Overall at night we take what sleep we can actually get.
Figuring Out the Mornings
Getting out the door with a three-year-old in the morning is always a fun time. From finding shoes to picking out toys for daycare it rarely is ever easy or fast. Mix in having to feed a baby, get him dressed and get everyone out the door…we often resemble a 3 ring circus.
In an attempt to get ahead of things I try and make our lunches the night before. This saves me at least a half hour each morning. It gives me a little more flexibility depending on what time Baby B decides he wants to get up and eat. We’ve also started encouraging Little Man to pack his own backpack for daycare the night before so we have less of a debate while he’s still tired in the morning.
Most mornings I try and stick to very specific times we start each part of the morning. From my morning run to what time I need to be out of the shower and making smoothies our schedule is fairly tight if we want to leave on time…and by on time I mean about 4 minutes before we absolutely have to leave. Sticking to the schedule and getting as much done the night before has been incredibly helpful.
Planning Out Dinner
The biggest mistake I made the first two months of finding a new routine after maternity leave was not planning out dinner on the weekends. We ate out a lot, there was more frozen pizza than I could care to admit and Little Man got very comfortable eating pb&j multiple times a day. Now we sit down on Sunday mornings before we go grocery shopping and plan at least two to three meals for the week. Leftovers can fill the other nights and you never know when we might have a night where eating out just needs to happen.
Not only does this save us money, but it’s helped set all of us up for expectations when we get home. If dinner needs to be made, the boys might need a little time to wind down with a show. On the nights dinner is in the crock pot than they can eat as soon as they walk in the door. I highly recommend meal planning and am grateful we finally got back to it.
Rolling With It On The Bad Days
No day is ever going to be exactly the same as the day before. The biggest lesson I’ve learned while finding a new routine after maternity leave is that while we all need an overall routine it will never be a perfect routine. Baby B will probably need a new diaper as we’re walking out the door late one day, Little Man might be extra wound up before bed and miss his bed time one night. It happens and we just have to roll with it on the bad days.
Each day we figure out a little more of our routine and each day it changes a little more.
Do you ever struggle with a routine?