Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Laughable Schedule

As I mentioned in my last post, Time is Not Created Equal, I did a time log for a few days recently to see if I was spending enough time on my priorities. It was very enlightening. I was pleased to see that I'd spent plenty of time with family, taking care of the house, and playing with Edwin. I'd also used Edwin's nap times wisely, editing my novel or writing blog posts, except for one day when I did online shopping instead (a total waste of time, since I have little money to spare). I did find that I was watching too much TV, not planning enough evening activities, and not spending nursing time wisely.

After logging for a few days, I thought I saw some patterns in Edwin's schedule that might help me to set a slightly stricter schedule for both of us. I've been practicing "baby-led" scheduling, meaning I watch for Edwin's cues and daily patterns, and try to enforce them so they become more routine. I'd particularly like to get his naps on a schedule, and possibly consolidate the usual two longer and one shorter nap into just two long naps. So I created a rough timetable, one for the days I teach lessons in the afternoons (Mondays and Thursdays) and one for my non-lesson days (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, though I often plan longer outings with my parents on Fridays).

I have to laugh, now, thinking of that schedule. It worked for one day. Then Edwin got thrown off course- I've forgotten why, but he probably woke up unusually early or late the next day- and his first nap was at the completely wrong time. Which meant lunch was at the wrong time, and his next nap, and his playtime, etc. And thus all of the things I had scheduled for myself while he was napping and playing were also at the wrong times. It became pretty clear to me that Edwin isn't ready for a strict schedule, so I went back to what I had been doing before, which is more of an ordered routine than a by-the-clock schedule.

There were a few tweaks I was able to manage, however, and I think they've made my days more full and productive, and helped me re-focus on my priorities. These tips might help others who'd like to re-evaluate their schedules, with or without babies in tow:

1. Set nighttime hours. 
Experts say that it's best to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, including weekends.  One thing I have managed to keep fairly timely is Edwin's bedtime, so I just needed to enforce my own. I try to be in bed by 10:00 and read with my Kindle for a short time before going to sleep. I've also started getting up at 7:00. Even if Edwin wakes up earlier, as he often does, he's tolerant of letting me rest a little longer while he babbles in the co-sleeper. The rest is usually needed, as Edwin still wakes up  and nurses several times a night.

Amazingly, daylight savings had no effect on Edwin's bedtime at all! He got tired around 7:00 and went to bed just after 7:30 as usual.

2. Be prepared.
I saw in my log that I spent a lot of nursing time playing on my iPhone. Sometimes I like just sitting and watching Edwin, but other times he's less active and I like to keep myself occupied. I waste a lot of time on my iPhone, especially on Facebook. I'd rather spend that time reading, but the Kindle was often still in the bedroom when I sat down to nurse in the living room. So now I just make sure the Kindle is out on the coffee table in the morning.

I also wanted to spend more time reading to Edwin, because we don't always get much book time before bed if he's tired. So I'm keeping a stack of books out on the coffee table as well, to grab and read one or two at a time when he's in the mood.

3. Re-prioritize technology. 
I'm trying to promote my writing and create a bigger platform, so upping my Twitter presence is important. I resolved that if I am using my iPhone, I will go to Twitter before Facebook. This was made much easier when my Facebook app stopped sorting stories properly.

4. Add music.
I wanted Edwin to listen to music more, not because I believe it makes him smarter, but because my husband and I are both musicians and I want him to have exposure. I wasn't sure where to put this in the day until the nursery-rhyme music component of his favorite play mat broke. Now when he plays, I put the TV on one of the music channels, and that satisfies all of us.

5. Create learning opportunities.
I've been very interested in Baby Signs, a program that teaches babies sign language so that they can communicate before they can talk. Though Edwin's still a bit too young to pick up on it, I want to start using it so I'm in the habit when he's of the right age. I was trying to figure out when I had his attention best to teach him a few signs, and I realized it's when I change his diaper. He loves having his diaper changed (the sweet little weirdo!) and watches me intently the entire time he's on the changing table. So I'm going to keep him there a few minutes longer each time to teach him signs.

6. Plan downtimes. 
I've started watching Sesame Street with Edwin for a little while in the afternoons. We snuggle on the couch and watch for awhile, and usually fall asleep. It's peaceful, and has become my favorite time of day.

I never realized how incredibly smart Sesame Street is. It has plenty of inside jokes for parents while being fun and educational for kids. Hooray for PBS!

7. Plan evenings. 
Now that Edwin's going to bed earlier, I have a big time block in the evening that's free. I've been using this for a variety of things: spending time with my husband on the nights he's home; baking granola bars without interruption; writing blog posts; calling my friends; and sometimes just relaxing with Netflix and a glass of wine. I'm more aware of this free time now, and so have been using it more wisely.

I strongly recommend doing a time log for a few days to see where you're really spending those hours and minutes. It gives you a chance to re-think your priorities and see if your daily life is going in the direction you want.

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