9.11.2014

BFBN: balancing multiple schedules


Today I'm blogging about following Babywise and formula feeding over on Emily's blogValerie, the Babywise queen, is here talking about balancing multiple schedules.  This is so very relevant to me and my mom friends who are navigating the waters of 2+ kids!

When you have just one little cutie at home, it can be pretty easy to attend to the needs of that one schedule. It isn't always easy mentally (sometimes you just get so sick of schedules), but physically, it is possible to appease the one schedule most of the time.

When that second one comes along, it can get tricky. Those two schedules don't always line up and sometimes they full-on conflict with each other. While you are willing to sacrifice some of your own sanity for the schedule, you realize sometimes you have to sacrifice the baby's schedule for the older child's sanity. So how do you do this?

RECOGNIZE NEED vs. DESIRE
The first thing you need to do when figuring out how to balance the schedules is to really identify what the needs are of each family member. What does each family member truly need? Look at meals, naps, bedtime, personal care, exercise, and social interaction. 

Once you know needs, write down times/days these things need to happen.

Next, identify the desires/wants. What do the children want to do? With a baby, it is all about needs. A baby's needs take up the entire day. Identifying wants will be for your older child(ren), you, and your spouse. Write down the frequency, days, and times of these desires.

You will likely see some conflicts happening at this point. Something you know is what are needs and what are simply wants.

You can read more about Balancing Baby's Needs With Family's Needs here. You can also see ideas for Meeting Needs of Each Child here. 

BE CREATIVE and FLEXIBLE
Now is the time you figure out how to work all of these things together. First, work in needs. Figure out how you can feed your baby and have your older children occupied at the same time. Figure out things like what to do with older children while you are putting baby down for a nap. How will you work baths for all children? When will they all eat?

Once you get the needs figured out, see how you can work in the wants. Figure out how you can work in wants without having to impact needs where possible. If you feel like your older child needs to get out of the house, consider doing so without disrupting the baby. You can get a babysitter or take your child out while your spouse is home to stay with the baby. If you do take your child out with the baby, I find it best if you let the first nap happen at home for baby. Then you can go out for a cycle and have a nap on the go and be home in time for the third nap. Another thing that works is skipping a nap later in the day. Leaving that first nap at home is super helpful to a baby.

If you do take your baby out with you, try to think of ways to allow baby to sleep. I have had my babies sleep in pack and plays in empty rooms in the church for family parties. They have slept in pack and plays on the beach while we played. They have slept in strollers or carriers, and of course the car seat. Have a way for your baby to sleep on the go. This will make it so baby is more pleasant while out. 

When I had my fourth child, my three older children had activities they were involved in. I didn't want to cut those activities if I didn't have to. I worked our activities so that we carpooled with other moms. My mom helped take one of my daughters to dance and back each week. See more ideas like this here: Managing Baby Plus Older Kids' Activities.

Always remember, wants are just wants. If a want is negatively impacting another person's needs, it is time to cut the want out for a while. It isn't a bad thing for family members to sacrifice for each other. Sacrifice breeds true love. See Baby Joins a Family {AND} Family Adds a Baby.

SACRIFICE WISELY
When you do require a sacrifice of a need by a family member, do it wisely. I touched on this above, but respect the first nap of the day for baby. You will create sleep issues that will be very hard to fix if baby never sleeps at home. Your baby will be able to have a better day if you have the first nap at home. If your older child is at one nap, respect that one nap. Your child might be able to go down late or early if he/she is flexible (I have had a couple like that), but don't ask for more than your child can give unless you have to.

One time when my second child was 3 months old, we were at a family function with my husband's family where she skipped her last nap and her bedtime was late. She was up screaming all night long that night, where she previously had been sleeping almost through the night (getting up about 5 AM hour for the first time). I learned then that the sacrifice we asked of her that night did not work for her and we never repeated it with her (and frankly any other child that followed!). Once you learn what works and doesn't work for a child, respect it. They will each have their own thresholds. 

HAVE PLANS DURING NEEDS
Children have a lot of needs and you can't always attend to them all at the same time. I have some posts with ideas of what to do with children. 
You will also want contingency plans for when your children have needs that come up outside of normal needs. Baby is on a growth spurt and needs your attention all day, what will you do? What will you do when your baby wakes up early from a nap and you are in the middle of something with an older child? What will you do when your older child is sick and your baby needs something?

Don't drive yourself crazy and don't stress it out. These scenarios happen to everyone. You will face the ones I listed and more. Also remember, many a baby has cried in the crib because she woke early and mom was in the middle of a bath with the older sibling (and actually, this was something that taught me that many times a baby goes back to sleep when left alone for ten minutes). Many an older sibling has watched more TV than was ideal because the baby was sick or on a growth spurt and took all of mom's time, attention, and sanity that day. It will be okay! 

Do your best to balance out the schedules. Respect the needs of all family members and try to meet all needs, but allow family members to sacrifice when needed. Remember, needs of children change often. You aren't facing a life sentence with any need. The needs will change and become more flexible with time. Keep the big picture in mind and you will be able to handle it all with more grace.

Valerie is a mother of four and blogs at www.babywisemom.com.
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