By Regular Mummy Contributor Olivia Williams (@eeniemeeniemineymum)
No one is going to accuse me of running 'rancho relaxo' at my house.
I introduced myself to MeOhMy last month by confessing that I was always going to be a routine mum, and having twins just gave me a good excuse to use when other people gave me shit about the army boot camp regime that masquerades as the running of my household. I've got TWINS yo.. I'm actually super free-spirited and spontaneous and zen, I just have to be like this because of them. What. a. burden. to my usual amazingly casual, easy going nature. Mhmmmmmmm.
I'm a planner. I plan my plans, and then I plan things around them. I have an intricate colour coding system for my children's books. I arrive at appointments so early that I'm then forced to sit in my car checking Instagram for twenty minutes (what a SHAME) because better that than face people who have be sitting there waiting for me. I also sometimes arrive at the supermarket to do the grocery shopping and sit in the car checking my Instagram for twenty minutes before I go in because it's the only moment in my week when I'm actually ALONE. But that's a different story altogether.
My routine-driven life was ticking away pretty seamlessly when we decided to add madness to mischief and have another baby. I mean, it's mayhem at my house, but it's organised mayhem. Pretty much nothing happens without me making a list about it first. But I sort of knew things would have to change when we introduced a new small person into the mix.
We have activities PLANNED and if small person's sleep is at the same time as aforementioned activity, we can't just not go! I may appreciate the well ordered predictability of a routine, but I'm not a monster.
So, the arrival of our little Rosie has necessitated the relinquishing of a little bit of my tyrannical reign over our household. And with it has come fresh eyes for me on what can be some real pros to being a free range parent.
The most frequently used S word in our household has never be spontaneous. Just sayin. However, when you have a relaxed parenting style it's much easier to be s..s..s..sp..spontaneous. Sorry, that word still doesn't roll off my tongue as smoothly as I might like. Baby steps.
Speaking of babies - when you have one who is used to just going with the flow, when someone invites you around to watch One Direction concert DVDs at the last minute, you can just pack up your bits and pieces and as fast as you can say harrystylesistooyoungformebutidontevencarerightnow you can be on your way. Or you know, other more socially acceptable adult type activities like, I dunno, lunch, or the beach, or a BBQ. Whatevs. When you don't have to plan your activities around very regimented sleep times, it does make it easier to just DO things.
Socialising (if you're into that kind of thing )
When you have a strict routine, sometimes you find yourself having to sacrifice social functions for the sake of your baby's sleep times. To be honest, depending on the occasion this can sometimes be a good thing!
But there are also times when you might actually want to go to something (for me, this doesn't happen often unless the dress code is pyjama casual) but taking a routine baby out of its schedule can have very ugly consequences. That's where the relaxed style of parenting wins every time because, again, it makes it easier to just DO things, and staves off the potential isolation that can accompany being a new parent.
Generally, the only kind of demand I'm into is on-demand streaming TV (Netflix, I love you longtime), but there's also this thing called demand feeding. Or so I'm told.
By definition, demand feeding is led by your babies cues rather than by the clock. This has approximately thirty billion benefits for your milk supply and not drawing the feeds out to meet certain time limits can lead to a more settled baby. Can't argue with that.
Natural pattern building
Chances are that, over time, even a baby with no set routine will start forming a little pattern of its own. Baby sets up its own schedule - one less thing for you to do yourself! SCORE!
I'm going to be honest, my Type-A personality meant that I didn't really survive the relaxed style of parenting for very long. As early as I could get Rosie into a routine, I did. And frankly, that's what works better for our family, not least of all because The Bachelor starts at 7:30 so small people need to be asleep by then so Mummy can watch her documentary.
The one difference is that I've had to be more flexible this time around because, as is the plight of the subsequent child, I don't want to interrupt all the fun things we do with the twins and make them sit at home while the baby sleeps. With Rosie, I tend to focus more on the appropriate "awake time" for her age rather than have her on a set-to-time schedule.
And as it happens, she's a little ray of sunshine and a pretty awesome sleeper to boot, so I like to think I'm not totally screwing it up!