When that first sweet little bundle of joy enters your life, everything changes. Just as you lost some control over your life when you got married, you lose even more when you have a child. Even being pregnant is a huge change. You no longer have control over your body it seems – the little nugget determines whether you can or can’t eat, what you eat, and your sleep patterns – amongst other things. Then, once they’re born, they’re even more in charge of your life! It seems like the world revolves around their needs (or wants) and their “schedule” – whatever that may be. I wrote a post earlier about not letting the baby rule your life, and this post is about not letting the baby’s schedule rule their life.
As a new mom, I’m pretty sure I have googled “baby sleep schedule” or “baby feeding schedule” for every month of my child’s life since she was born. I’m always trying to figure my little one out, because I want structure. I want to know when she’ll sleep, when she’ll eat, and when she’ll be most happy so I can take her out in public. I’ve realized that this desire for a schedule has become more about me and my comfort than about my child’s needs. I want to be in control of my child and her life, to put it bluntly (honestly).
I’ve heard and read from many that say children need structure, and I agree with them. But maybe it’s not the kind of structure we think of. As Americans, in general, we tend to be very time-oriented. We are the busiest, most hurried people in the world. When we think of structure, we think of schedule, time management.
Maybe structure for children doesn’t mean an hour-by-hour time chart of when to eat, sleep, poop, and play. Maybe it looks more like the structure of knowing mommy and daddy will always be there for them, to comfort them, encourage them, and guide them. The structure of experiencing love in the form of rules and discipline. The structure of knowing God is in control of the universe, and he is only a prayer away. The structure of maintaining care of your body in the way you eat, sleep, and exercise.
Isn’t this how we are to live as adults? Do we get discouraged or disheartened if we go to bed at a different time one night, or only eat two full meals that day? Yes, doctors and scientists tend to agree on the fact that three square meals a day is good for the body, but some days that might not be what you need. You might need six small meals to get you through an exhausting day or a very large meal after a hard workout. Some nights you may need ten hours of sleep and other days only six.
Momma, it’s O.K. if your baby doesn’t follow a schedule. Whether they do or not does not determine whether they are healthy, and it definitely doesn’t determine whether you are parenting well. The most important thing you can give them is your love and your determination to promote their well-being.