I am DEFINITELY not a parenting expert but I AM a new Mother who has struggled with trying to establish a routine. I've read numerous books and articles on routines and why they are important. Honestly though? I hate them, they stress me out and make me feel like I'm tied to it and my house.
Initially, the routine we tried was the one commonly suggest by various "baby experts" of three hourly cycles with feeding and bedtime at certain times, if she wasn't awake by that time you were supposed to wake her up. That just didn't sit right with me - the old saying of "never wake a sleeping baby" was advice to live by in my opinion. For me, the routine was just too rigid there was no leeway in the timings you were meant to stick to. How was I mean't to be able to get out of the house and live some form of normal life if I MUST stick to it regardless.
I'm sure there are plenty of other routines that aren't so strict but in reality I'd rather create my own form of "routine". Both Tom, my husband, and I are very laid-back sort of people, this was the case throughout my pregnancy and after birth - my motto was "just go with the flow". So, I suppose you could say, to a certain extent, our parenting method was very much that of baby led parenting.
Is there anything wrong with that though? If it works for us then what's the issue? I don't feel the need to stress myself out by trying to stick to a strict schedule which can sometimes end up, in my opinion, doing the opposite. I know a lot of people would argue against baby led parenting but in reality if it works for us than who are we hurting.
I also think it depends on who you are as a person and how you lived your life before you became a parent. If you are someone that needed a routine for everyday life to function normally then this will probably be the same when you become a parent. For me, I'm not a schedule person and I don't think babies, or at least mine, are either. Don't quote me on that though. I would much prefer to work around her (to a point though, she works around us if I need to go out I'll go out and she just sleeps on the go) for example if she's tired I'll let her sleep or if she's hungry I'll let her eat rather than force her to sleep when she's not tired and eat when she's not hungry.
Don't get me wrong, if you've managed to establish a routine that works for you then thats great it's just not for me. I tried for a couple of weeks to follow to a strict routine but I ended up just getting so wound up when it didn't work out.
As time has gone on and Ella has gotten older she's naturally settled herself into, what I would loosely call, a routine. I realised that I was keeping her awake longer than she should have been. She was telling me what she needed but I just didn't know how to translate what she was saying. Initially, as a newborn we were unable to get her to sleep before 10pm but as she has gotten older, though, I've made a conscious effort to try and establish a bedtime routine to encourage her to go to bed earlier and earlier. Now her bedtime is between 7 and 7.30 if she's not in bed by this time she becomes very grizzly.
Here is a brief overview of our day:
7 - 8.30 - Wake-up (if she's slept through she wakes at about 7.30 if she's woken up earlier for a feed at say 5 or 6 I put her back down and she'll sleep to 8.30ish.
8.30 - 9.30 - Feed, play time and then back down for a nap this could be anywhere between 30mins to and hour (she's a chronic catnapper)
9.30 am - 6pm - Between these times there is no strict routine I will feed her on demand, usually at about 2 - 3 hourly cycles give or take. I put her down when I see tired signs and again her nap times vary. It allows for time to go out and run errands or go to coffee group or Plunket etc.
5 - 6pm - Is normally "Daddy" time, if Tom is home she'll have time with him then he'll bathe and change her into her bedtime clothes.
6.30 - 7.30pm - Tom gives her a bottle of Formula and then it's bedtime.
So, I suppose you could say we do have a routine of sorts but I wouldn't consider it the suggested routine you'd find in most parenting books.
I think the point I'm trying to make here is - don't stress yourself out trying to force a routine just because you think you need too. If it's not working try and find something that does work for you or let them tell you what they need.
As far as I'm concerned there is no point trying something that just ends up stressing you out. If I could offer one piece of advice, feel free to follow it or ignore it, would be to not put to much pressure on yourself, take each day as it comes and hopefully in time your baby will establish their own natural routine or patterns.
Note: As I have said time and time again, I am by no means a parenting expert. I am just a new Mother trying to find a rhythm with this parenting lark and offering insight into what has and hasn't worked for me personally. If you can relate to me in my daily struggles and this helps you out too then great!