I have always been a big believer in schedules for children. I worked at a daycare in the afternoons while I was in college, and without some sort of schedule it was pure mayhem.
So I started schedules early with all three babies, and have always had good sleepers. I’m sure some of it is luck, but they have all done 10 hour stretches at night at about six or seven weeks old. It makes all the difference for your mood and being productive during the day. They would eat every three hours, have a VERY short wake time afterwards, like under an hour (as newborns, it lengthened as they got older), and then go down for a nap. At four months they should be eating only every four hours, with a two hour wake time and two hour nap.
Right now the baby eats at 7, 10, 1, 4 and then snacks throughout the evening to store up for the night. She is generally fussy from 5 to when she goes down for the night, but I wear her in a carrier while I make dinner and clean up, sometimes taking her with me to do evening chores outside. At this age I do not let her cry more than a few minutes if she is settling down for a nap. Normally if you put your baby down before they are over tired (which is less than hour after waking up when they are very young) there will not be much crying. If she is having a hard time settling, I rock her for a bit and put her back down.
One thing I am not so good about is a schedule for the older children, and for myself. This summer I am really working on it. I bought the Kindle edition of the book Home Plain and Simple, by Kim Brenneman. It is a new version of her book, Large Family Logistics. I am not sure how it differs from the original other than the title. I am guessing it was retitled to appeal to a larger audience. I only have three children far and still found it very helpful.
It is is helping me fine tune my own cleaning schedule (in fact I have totally overhauled it), and giving me a lot of encouragement and concrete ideas for the older children’s schedule, which I sorely needed.
The days for the older children now look like this:
6:30-7:00 wake up (they do this on their own and if they sleep in a bit I don’t mind)
Get dressed, free play/ coloring
9:00 “school” work (one worksheet or page of handwriting practice)
Free play, usually spent with their kittens outside, at their sandbox, or coloring
Read aloud time
1:30 Quiet hour (they go upstairs and are not allowed to call to me unless someone is hurt)
2:30 Outside/ swimming/ TV show during bad weather
7:00 Baths, bedtime story, bed
Some people think having a schedule is a lot of work. I find that not having one is a lot of work. You are always wondering what to do next, dealing with whining children, and feeling out of control. If we deviate from this for a special occasion I try not to get worked up. The schedule serves you, you don’t serve the schedule.
What the book has changed most for me is my housekeeping schedule. Instead of making a to do list the night before of random tasks, each day of the week has a focus. I will post more about it later. A lot of housekeeping tasks were being neglected but now everything has an assigned time. I will post about it next time.