When you work from home, getting your newborn baby on a routine is both (nearly) impossible and absolutely essential. What I’ve learned in my five and a half months of fatherhood is that “routines” only last a few weeks before I have to figure out something new. It’s a constantly shifting battle of naptimes and crying fits.
You Need A Routine
You need to get stuff done. The trick is keeping him entertained… All. Day. Long.
That doesn’t mean you have to maintain eye contact for eight hours a day. At six months old, Sam’s learning new things about the world around him literally every day. So if he gets bored of a certain skill he’s picked up that week, he gets frustrated and starts crying until I move him over to a different skill he can practice.
Right now, he alternates between his Standing Activity Center, his Infantino Activity Playmat for some tummy time, and (now that he can sit up all by himself) some sitting time on the yoga mat with a few pillows surrounding him and toys in front of him.
After a few hours of mental stimulation, he’s exhausted and starts getting frustrated with everything. It usually takes a few false starts but eventually, he zonks out and my work day starts in earnest.
It’s not that easy to get my kid down for a nap, dude!
I get it. I feel your pain. Sam was a terrible napper. Some days he wouldn’t nap at all but still get grumpier and grumpier as every minute passed. That was until I figured out a good daily routine with him. Now he usually manages two solid 40-60 minute naps or a long 2-3 hour nap per day.
Work In The In-Between Moments
Your work time isn’t restricted solely to nap time either. You should expect to spend a lot of time focused on your baby throughout playtime, but it’s good to let them play on their own for a while too.
Sam’s Fisher-Price Safari Activity Center has eight different toys (including a three-key piano) in a circle surrounding him that he can spin around and play with at will. When he gets bored with one toy, he just spins around to something else. This gives me time to sit down and work on a blog post, do some dishes, make lunch, etc.
Tummy time on the playmat and sitting time on the yoga mat usually require closer attention because he gets frustrated a lot faster with these. Typically, he can alternate between these three activity spots for about three hours before he’s tired of everything. It might take a few false starts and pacifier rescues, but nap time gets him in the end.
When he wakes up, we start the process over. (Obviously, you continue to feed and diaper the baby through this cycle.)
Don’t Expect It To Last
I’m under no illusions that my fancy routine is going to be intact in a few weeks, and you shouldn’t be either. Babies are always learning new things, but more importantly, they always want to learn new things. The novelty wears off fast once they master a new skill, so you have to keep changing things up.
A single routine might last a month, or a week, or a few days. It might sound pointless to even try to keep up, but even a few days of a solid routine do wonders for my sanity, my workload, and my messy house. Even if I don’t get as much done as I want to, it helps me deal with the stress of keeping him entertained because I know what to expect.
A lot of things about raising a baby feel like jumping into the deep end of a pool with no swimming lessons, but once you get the art of routines down, your days get a lot less stressful.
So How Do I Get The Baby To Nap?
The name of the game is “Keep the baby mentally stimulated until they take a nap.” That sounds like a big chore, but for almost a month it’s been as easy as:
10am: Activity Center
11am: Playmat (or Sitting Up Time)
12pm: One-on-One Time (Talking to him, walking around with him, etc.)
12:30pm: Activity Center
1:30ish? – NAP TIME!!!!
Then, it’s a lottery figuring out how long he’ll stay down for the nap and if he’ll take a second nap.
You repeat the cycle and whether or not he actually goes down for a nap, it’s usually a bit of a meltdown until mommy gets home.
But that’s a pretty small part of the day. 🙂
Learn With Your Baby
Those times up there aren’t going to match up with your day at all. Most of you probably guessed that when you saw the day started at 10am. My understanding (according to other parent friends) is that this is not the… average time for a baby to wake up.
Your baby may prefer some one-on-one time first thing in the morning. They might nap after one activity, or after repeating the cycle twice, but if they stay mentally stimulated as long as continuously possible they’re usually exhausted and ready to go down for a nap.
No, Really, How Do I Get My Baby To Go To Sleep?!
Okay, so when it’s time to take him back to the crib, we have a pretty solid naptime routine that’s worked for months now. If Sam doesn’t immediately roll over and pass out, I resort to my awesome all-original master naptime technique!
My wife informs me that this method is actually something called, “Sleep Training,” but I developed the technique on my own before she told me that so, basically, I INVENTED SLEEP TRAINING!
But for legal reasons, not really. Here’s how it goes:
1. Diaper change.
2. Change him into a sleep sack.
3. Turn on the vibrating pad in his crib.
4. Give him a pacifier.
5. Turn on the night light.
6. Walk Away.
At this point, he sometimes immediately starts crying, or sometimes turns his head and closes his eyes. Then, after a few minutes he’ll start crying:
7. Let him cry for a minute or two.
8. Give pacifier back.
9. Calm him down. (Sometimes I sing something or play music)
10. Walk Away.
11. Repeat until at least one of you passes out.
We have a video monitor, so I can actually see when he loses his pacifier and give it back quickly if he accidentally spits it out. Sometimes he’s on the verge of sleep when he loses the pacifier, so the monitor has definitely rescued its share of naptimes.
Then get your stuff done! …Or take a nap…
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