As you may already know, my go-to resource for many of my early parenting questions is Tracy Hogg’s book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. It was Hogg’s trademark EASY routine for infants that eventually made my chaotic rookie parenting days much more … “manageable.”
In a nutshell, EASY is simply structuring your baby’s day in this pattern: Eat. Activity. Sleep. Your time. *Repeat until the end of time* While it sounds like a pretty obvious routine for a baby (I mean what else is a lump of chub going to do), your brain just isn’t putting together any logic, rhyme or reason when it’s puttering on a few scrappy hours of sleep. Hence, a book that spells it out for you … in an easy to remember acronym no less, is pure genius.
But, genius can be pure madness as well. Genius can be evil, yes? Well, that’s certainly what I believed when the EASY routine suddenly became not so freakin easy. Give a teacher a schedule that she isn’t able to follow to the minute and what do you have? A pretty pissed off teacher with a dose of insecurity and a supersized helping of frustration.
As it turns out, it’s not just a teacher thing. It’s sort of an all around perfectionist parent kind of thing. I know this now because one of the most common emails I get is from frustrated parents who are desperately trying to incorporate EASY into their new life but cannot get their noob to follow the schedule. Why can’t babies read schedules and Thomas Guides and recipes and W-2‘s for for god’s sake?! If I had a nickel for everything a baby couldn’t read…
Anyway, back to the point. If you are one of the many frustrated parents out there who is smart enough to know your baby should be on a routine but can’t seem to get your baby on the same page, well this post is a shout out to you. Here it is. The most important advice to remember when incorporating EASY, or any routine for that matter, into your day to day parenting.
And, because every parent needs a cheat sheet… here is an EASY Schedule Cheat Sheet I created that is VERY handy to reference from birth to 1 yr! Enjoy it. Use it. Share it!
Be flexible. Be adaptable. Be like a ninja.
The Baby Whisperer offers EASY as a general guideline for how your baby’s day should look. Most parents, myself included, will get so caught up in the minutes and numbers that when things are not perfect, go totally spastic.
That’s when you need me, the concerned and slightly nosy outside party, to shake you by the shoulders and say … BE FLEXIBLE!
Your noob isn’t a textbook. Your noob isn’t a droid (but seriously, how cool would that be). Your baby has its own agenda, which guaranteed, isn’t the same as yours. So save yourself some gray hairs and just go with the flow. But make sure you are in control of where that is going.
Along those lines, here are some more tips to remember when applying EASY:
Be consistent. Reasonably consistent.
Eat-Activity-Sleep is a healthy, intuitive guideline to follow for infants. Note that it isn’t Eat-Sleep. I say this because I found myself struggling with this pattern a lot in the early months. I thought that’s how it worked with babies. For newborns, that’s fine. But after a month or so, your noob can stay awake long enough to people watch for half an hour or listen to your super high pitched baby talk. I’m going to write another post about why you shouldn’t let your noob fall asleep during a feeding. But for now, just remember that some mild activity like going for walk, staring at a toy or hearing some songs is all the activity infants need.
Keeping structure and routine is something all babies, kids, and frankly many adults need. That means having meals around the same time, reliable nap times (and not always in a car seat or in a stroller while you’re out running errands), and an early (7-7:30ish) bed time. Don’t expect your little one to sleep through the night or fall asleep like an angel if he’s going to bed at 9:30 some nights and napping on the road most days.
While I’m personally a stickler for predictability, I’m also realistic. I know that holidays (and visitors) will be a wash and some weekends you just want to stay out and enjoy some extra family time. Be flexible, but be structured. Do preserve the naps and bedtime as though they are sacred. Your noob needs that time to grow and develop.
Adapt the EASY times to your baby.
If your baby sleeps longer than you expect or wakes up earlier than you prayed for, adjust and adapt the best you can. If she’s sleeping a little into her next feeding time, don’t jump the gun and barge in on her beauty sleep. Unless she’s a preemie or has some special needs that your pediatrician is aware of, she’ll be fine. Use your best judgment. And remember that you know your noob better than anyone else. If nap time is going on for 4 hours, well yeah, you don’t want her wired at bedtime.
Some babies are really slow eaters, others are really efficient nursers. Adjust your feeding time as needed. Just remember, don’t get caught up on the minutes and numbers, it will make you feel like a failure. I know because that’s how I felt every time NB woke up from her nap 45 minutes later.
Now here’s my teacher shout out. Thinking back, I was lucky to have been trained to deal with surprises in our schedule. You learn to roll with the punches and be flexible. Hey, guess what … the library is closed today, you have an assembly that is half an hour longer than you expected, we’re on Rainy Day schedule, and the photo copier is broken. Merry Effin Christmas. I’ll say it again (only to remind myself still, three years later) don’t try to be that perfect parent. Because when you do, you will be the one feels like a failure when things don’t go as planned… which they inevitably will. Remember, it’s not always a bad thing if things don’t go as planned. Many fun memories come from those crazy days!
Now with those extra EASY tips out there, do you have some tips of your own about routines and schedules. Or just being a ninja? I’d love to know what your experience is with Tracy Hogg’s EASY routine. Leave me a comment or share your advice with other spastic noob parents like myself.
In case you haven’t picked up this book yet, share the love and buy your copy with my Amazon link… won’t ya?