One of the things that I think is most laughable about being a parent is the fact that we keep thinking we can schedule things that happen. When I first became a parent, people told me that eventually I would be on a schedule and everything would sort of come together. But I know now that that basically means that eventually things will be potentially 10% predictable and that will make you feel invincible.
So that’s pretty much how parenting works.
And I must say that I think trying to make a schedule is the silliest thing you can do as a parent. The only thing that really happens when you tell a baby that he can’t eat when he wants to or he has to go to sleep when he doesn’t want to is that you are both feeling sad and upset (but one of you knows why and the other one doesn’t). I mean, I get that people have jobs and need to get sleep, etc. But I think the real advice you can give a new parent is to give yourself enough time so that you don’t actually need a schedule.
So currently we are doing this what I would call “loose schedule” and it’s going really well. My son eats whenever he wants during the day (which is every two hours usually, if not more often) and he sleeps however long he wants to at night (which we hope will be three or four hours at a time, but the second we get used to that it is less again). Both of these things make me really happy, because it feels like we are constantly in communication about things. For example, on those nights when he sleeps only two hours at a time, I know that he is having trouble sleeping for some reason and we need to watch things and be there for him. And when he sleeps for five hours at a time, which very rarely happens, we similarly know that something is different and we should watch and see how things are going more closely. Babies are constantly in flux, and I think putting them on a rigid schedule early on takes away the communication about this flux. It puts expectations before realities and disappointment comes to both parties more often as a result.
So I think in the future I will tell new parents that scheduling things is a bunch of horseshit and they should enjoy the new freedom they have to be there for someone else no matter what time it is. Because that’s way more awesome than scheduling things anyway.