The Routine Machine
Nicola is a 33-year-old swimwear model and mum to Lola, 2 and Lockie, 9 months. In her spare time she runs weeslice.com - a blog dedicated to helping people find and share their happy. Nicola splits her time between beach-front properties in Florida, Positano and Tasmania, but her reclaimed castle in Edinburgh will always be home.
If either piglet wakes up before my appointed "AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED, ANYTHING EARLIER THAN THIS IS STILL THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT" o'clock, I don't immediately go through and get him or her out of bed. I let them lie there and chat until it's near enough getting up time, OR if they've been awake for a wee while, until they start to get pissy because they know they're missing Dinopaws. (The key to the success of this initiative is to make a clear distinction between talking and crying. "DA DA BA BA MMMAAAAA" and/or 14 verses of Wheels on the Bus = Good. High pitched wailing and/or shouted threats of "AMA DONE A BIG POOP!!" = Bad. They also need to be a fair few months old before you can start to dictate get up-time; when they're below 6 months they generally still cry when they first wake up because they're hangry, so exercise caution and common sense).
- Collect Lockie from his room, take him through to the living room and settle him in front of Teletubbies.
- Collect Lola from her room and invariably be referred to as 'Nana' until she fully wakes up.
- Change nappies, make breakfast, hide in the kitchen doing Instagram stories.
- Put Lockie down for his morning nap, circa 30mins, invariably required around 90 minutes after he first gets up (when he was tiny I just put him in the buzzy chair in the bathroom with the extractor fan providing white noise. As he and Lola got older that became a nuisance so I started putting him back into bed which resulted in better quality sleep for him, and ample opportunity for Lola to drag me to the bathroom 20 times, falsely claiming she wanted to do a "toilet poop").
- Commence our morning activity. This can be anything from a 30-40 minute dog walk, swimming lesson, play date with friends, or trip to the local library for Bookbugs. Depending on the duration of the activities, sometimes we do a couple.. on those days I usually wear dark clothes to hide my stress-sweat.
- Home for lunch.
- Freshen the babies up, sing their individual nap time sleep songs (no - YOU'RE a loser) and put them into bed for a full power down.
- Wake the babies (unless they rouse themselves which Lola doesn't really do and Lockie is becoming less likely to do as he gets older - they're shaping up to be a pair of sloths), freshen up and snacks.
- Afternoon activity. This can be anything from a supermarket run, trip to a friend's house, or a visit to the swing park.
- Home for tea. Optional Hey Duggee viewing if they've been particularly good/particularly hideous.
- Bath, PJs, milk, story, and bed-time sleep song. We've recently started getting them ready together in Lola's room so they can both listen to the same story... and she can steal what's left of his bottle.
- Lockie is usually up once (as of 9 months) to be fed.. he's a growing boy and treats me good so i'm in no rush to have him sleep through the night - i'm confident (read: praying to Swayze daily) that he'll do it by himself when he's good and ready. We don't hear from Lola unless she's unwell, in which case she'll kick off by 11pm and all bets are off for a night of shuttle runs between her room and ours to settle her with milk/Calpol/songs/cuddles as required.
And that's it! My style is very Groundhog Day but with babies instead of clairvoyant rodents, and bad moods instead of bad weather. N x
Balancing a Bit of Both
Jojo is a writer (mummyjojo.com), entertainer, mental health ambassador and mum to Bonnie, 4 and Charlie, 2. Jojo lives in Edinburgh and loves music, fitness, food and cocktails.
My motto when it comes to routine and life in general is - find balance. Find the balance that works for you. When it comes to napping, I am big, in fact HUGE on these taking place in the house. Car naps really annoy me, they are a total waste - Hello, i'm driving - It's not like I can get anything done. Once I became a Mum I quickly realised just how precious time is. Time is a commodity that my husband and I often need to pitch and negotiate in terms of who deserves a little "me time" more. Nap time is precious. Here is a typical day in the life of Mummy Jojo with the motto 'find balance' in mind.
Anything pre 7:30am
- Daddy Pig deals with to give me a fresh head for the day. After all, he gets to drive to work in a quiet car. He gets a lunch break. He gets to go to the loo in peace. This was the way as soon as Charlie was off the boob at 11 months. He started to bite me and laugh, a total no brainer.
- This depends on how bad the night was. If it was bad, then 2 year old Charlie and 4 year old Bonnie will be given the iPad. We snuggle and I snooze until someone shouts.
- Bring both kids downstairs - they will have already had cereal or toast with Daddy, but are hungry again. Boil the kettle. Make the kids either a fruit smoothie, banana milkshake or more toast (they go through stages of jam, peanut butter or cream cheese toppings). Sometimes they help me prep this, sometimes they play nicely together and sometimes they fight like cat and dog. Those times are stressful. Especially pre-caffeine. If I have PMS I may lose it a little. I may record Insta stories about the struggles of being a Mum trying to find balance. I may tell people they are not alone. I may cry.
- We attempt to leave the house - normally to soft play at David Lloyd, where I can enjoy a cappuccino. Sometimes I put the kids in creche and do a spinning class, sometimes we see friends there. I am also a fan of going to our local Tesco or Gyle shopping centre. This often involves a trip to M&S or Starbucks for a coffee. Coffee is always an important factor when planning out the day. Can you imagine a day without coffee?! (Small print - leaving the house can take anything from 45 minutes to 2 hours. This is one of my most stressful moments of the day. Sometimes I give up, sometimes I decide we will just stay at home until the nursery run. I give the kids a pile of Play-Doh, get the crafting kits out the garage and if the weather is ok, we go out into the back garden for a bit. I used to live in a top floor flat, the garden is now a huge blessing because sometimes even getting to the park is a struggle. Also, you can't get coffee at most parks - they are missing a HUGE trick. Also - we need more drive through coffee places. It's essential. McDonalds doesn't count.
- Lunch, either out or in. If we have this at home then the favourites are pesto pasta, homemade soup or cheese and crackers with hummus and carrots on the side.
12pm - NURSERY RUN
12:30pm - SETTLE Charlie for his (hopefully) long nap.
Me time!!! Always involves coffee. I won't bore you with the freelance work stuff or housework.
2:30pm - Snuggle for post sleep cuddles with my cuddly, cheeky boy in front of the tv. I cherish this time. We then have stories or kick a ball in the garden. The boy has skills, you heard it here first.
4pm - Nursery collection. We walk up and back unless it is raining. It's only a minute drive but I don't care. I often push Charlie up in his trike (which used to be his big sisters and is now a bit rusty so it creeks). My hubs is too tight to buy a new one. Frugal is his middle name.
4:20pm - 5:20pm - The witching Hour - most stressful PART OF THE DAY. I often make vlogs of "sheer disbelief" see here as I go and post them on facebook, Insta and Youtube. I get messages asking about what I am cooking for dinner (I am a huge foodie) so I try and post Insta stories as I frantically throw things in a pan and the kids scream "hurry up Mummy, dinner RIGHT NOW".
Crank up the beats, throw snacks at the kids quicker than Trump with a P45 so I can get on with dinner (and dancing around like a loon, singing into a wooden spoon). Music keeps me sane. As does writing, over-sharing and exercise.
As soon as Daddy Pig comes home, I give him his dinner. He is huge on routine and likes to eat at 5:15pm sharp. We put kids in front of their fave tv shows (currently Topsy and Tim and Peter Rabbit). We then do the dishes and then I scoot upstairs to my office to work for a couple of hours. Then I will either nip to the gym or for a run (Hubs is also a fitness junky and goes on his lunchbreak). If I am not doing that then I often jump in the bath with the kids. We have some chat and they throw dolphins in my face. If I am lucky I manage to blag a foot rub.
Whilst I do this Daddy pig hoovers and clears away the toys. He has mild OCD and likes the way he does it.
7:30pm (ish) we go down for supper.
8pm - plonk Charlie in bed. Bonnie is a whole different story and demands a tickled back and lots of "stories from my head" about holidays and old family memories. She is a little diva in the making and takes it from her Mummy (shhhhhh).
9pm - Lie on the sofa and watch trashy tv. Try and avoid the biscuit tin. Occasionally hubs and I scehdule in some "couple time" in the love shack. He then discusses getting the snip.
Fly By the Seat of Your FOMO
Nat is a shopaholic scone-addict who has recently dipped her in-need-of-shellac toe into blogging as Mumdinger. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband, 2 small boys and vast collection of pink leather pouches. Nat can often be found making train sets or building tall towers out of Duplo.
I’m not opposed to routine per se. My morning cuppa is a stalwart of my day and something that is never ever EVER sacrificed, and I still insist in doing Christmas Day in exactly the same way I was doing it back in 1988. But when it comes to a day to day routine with my kids, I’ve just never really understood why I’d bother.
I mean, roughly I guess I do follow a routine. We wake up (or, more accurately, get woken up), we eat breakfast, we do something, we eat lunch (in or out), we do something else or carry on doing whatever we were doing before lunch, we go home, we have tea, the kids go to bed and then it’s that lovely, relaxing ‘do all the chores / make dinner / relax / phone friends / catch up on life / do an internet shop / attempt to write blog’ time. It’s just the timing and location of all these things that i’m super-relaxed about.
For me, the joy of 2 maternity leaves has been the “freedom” (ok, it’s all relative) to do whatever I want-ish, whenever i want-ish, the “ish” obviously being the fact that your life is pretty much entirely dictated by the small-but-extremely-authoritarian being in your arms. With my eldest I spent the first few months rushing around like a hyper-active pogo stick, going from baby class to coffee catch ups and the odd wine-accompanied lunch. Never would I ever have wanted that to have been limited to certain hours of the day because of a routine. I used to love leaving the house in the morning not knowing when i’d be back, bag jam-packed with clothing and food for pretty much any scenario. And actually I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to get frustrated with those people who would respond to my coffee invites with specific between-nap time slots that I was welcome to try and book into.
Inevitably, mat leave 2 has been different. I tried all the classes first time round (like, actually ALL of them), so i know which ones to go to (ummm… the free ones i don’t need to sign up to?!). I’m not on the same mission to make friends - luckily most of my friends from first time round have had a second too so we can all live within each others’ pockets again. But obviously the biggest difference with mat leave 2 is that duh, you’ve got 2 kids. Which, frankly, means you haven’t got the energy to be rushing around town. Whether the eldest is in nursery or not, you’re more likely to be picking up toys and trying to catch up on ALL the washing than working on you research project into the best brownie in town. So i’m spending a lot more time at home this time round.
But - and this is a big but - it still doesn’t make me want to commit myself to being at home for certain hours of the day. What if the sun comes out? I want to head to the park! What if all your mates are meeting for a coffee? I HAVE to be there! (FOMO is my middle name). What about going for a day trip somewhere? What if an event means you HAVE to be out the house? What if a supermarket does a flash sale on champagne? I want to be there FAST! I want to be flexible enough to do whatever takes my fancy that day without worrying about being home at a certain time or risk ‘breaking’ my kids.
These days my 3 year old doesn’t nap - 10 minutes in the day means a 2 hour bedtime. But he used to, and my 9 month old does… he just does it ‘BBC’ - that is, in the Buggy, on the Boob, or in the Carseat (I just made that up, might trademark it!). Sometimes he’ll go for 2 hours at a time, sometimes 5 minutes. Sometimes it works perfectly and I can meet friends for coffee with a sleeping baby, sometimes it fails miserably and I meet friends for coffee with a screaming, over-tired baby and I need to do a lap of the block to get him to nod off. Yes its unpredictable, but it always works out OK in the end and i guess it’s the price I pay for “freedom”.
Of course, there is a downside to this approach: time to myself at home is a precious commodity which only really happens in the evening post-bedtime . There must be a only-babies-can-hear klaxon that goes off the minute we cross the threshold which breaks even the deepest buggy or carseat sleep, and for some reason daytime naps in the cot just never seem to happen. The rare times they have (and when we have nowhere to go) I do get that it’s heavenly. You can get a hell of a lot done in an hour in the day - maybe that's why my blogging is somewhat… erratic?!
Ultimately, it’s each to their own. Not following a routine is definitely what works for us, but I do get that some people prefer a bit more predictability - and that’s fine too, I’ll just see them between 9:12 and 11:38! Anyway, that’s all for now. The baby’s crying and needs a sleep. Maybe.