We had a baby in early March, came home for an hour, and then ended up in the NICU for a few days. When we were finally home some ten days after his birth, we didn't realize it would be for so long! To say this time has been easy would be a lie. To say my mental health hasn't suffered would also be a lie. Now, during this uncertain time of COVID-19 Quarantine Life, and more than ever, I've found that providing a routine and following through with consistency for my children has benefitted ALL OF US. Don't get me wrong...this has been HARD. But the days I've been able to focus on and provide somewhat of a routine for my children have been better than the rest.
The first few weeks postpartum were extra difficult, and there wasn't much of a routine with anything, especially considering we had such a health scare early on with our newborn. My time was spent learning my new baby's personality and cues, establishing breastfeeding, forming a healthy attachment and bonding with my baby, not sleeping much, introducing my toddler to becoming a big brother, dealing with postpartum hormone fluctuations...and worrying nonstop that we would need to go back to the hospital.
Add in a global pandemic and a "Safer at Home" order, and we've had a recipe for disaster.
The help and support from family we thought we were going to have was gone in the blink of an eye. The ease of knowing we could have food delivered safely within an hour - gone. The knowledge that we could make a quick trip to the grocery store if needed - gone. The comfort in knowing I could take an hour to myself and go get a pedicure or much-needed massage - gone. The security of a hug from a loved one - gone. It was my husband, my boys, and me, all together in our house.
So, what have we done to get by?
We figured out a routine. We've attempted to make sleep a priority for everyone. After a few weeks, we became a well oiled machine. I knew who would be sleeping when. We focus on an EAT/PLAY (AWAKE)/SLEEP routine with my newborn. We provide consistent meal and nap times for my toddler. We try to get outside every afternoon. I go to bed early, and my husband stays up late. I wake up early, and he sleeps in. We take turns with night feeds. We have made it work because we have no other choice. This routine has kept us going, just like a routine helps keep your little ones moving through their days (and nights) smoothly. Now we've added in transitioning back to work (my husband is an essential worker) and tweaking our routine a bit here and there. Soon, I will go back and we will tweak it yet again.
As communities around the nation are preparing to re-open and lift restrictions, I'd like to encourage you to continue practicing consistent routines with your child(ren). When children know what to expect and when to expect it, they feel safe. So do I - the uncertainty of this situation has caused fear for many people. The unknown is scary, and trust me, the last thing I want is another hospital stay with either of my boys. So, we will keep on keepin' on over here, practicing safe protocols now that we know a lot more about this virus than we did a mere few weeks ago. We will stay home more often than not, but I truly believe human interaction and real face-to-face time is vital, both for our mental health and for my boys' social-emotional development. We have slowly started to see family members who have also been safely quarantined. We will continue to wash hands religiously, and wear face masks when out and about when being in the public is necessary. The boys will only go out if they absolutely have to. We will take it one day at a time. We will continue to educate ourselves and participate in best safety practices. And we will provide consistency for our boys so they thrive, hopefully not knowing any different considering we've been in the middle of a pandemic.
If you need some guidance when it comes to providing age appropriate schedules and routines for your baby or young child, please don't hesitate to reach out to me - I'm happy to provide some guidance and help your family thrive too, especially when it comes to sleep!