I cannot believe that at only 5 months old, we already (some semblance of) an evening schedule with our son! Each evening has its own idiosyncrasies, but we have general, ideal evening schedule that has really helped keep our lives on track and on target with to-dos, classes, and our own personal time as parents and individuals.
As 5-month old, he chatters constantly in his own language. We've started trying single-grain cereal and he is beginning to act very interested in what we eat, including "chewing" at us. He can almost sit up on his own and really enjoys sitting in his high chair. He also loves standing and playing in his exersaucer (which I've nicknamed his work station). He looks like a little mad scientist turning in it and fiddling with the various items on it. We are definitely out of the newborn stage and have a little man with his own personality, thoughts, and opinions.
An average, everything going according schedule day has us home by 4:00. There is generally a milk-meal of some sort needed and then short nap (no more than hour). I try to use this time as an opportunity to just cuddle and enjoy being around one another. He is normally pretty sleepy and snuggly around this time. While he is asleep, whether on me or not, I try to use this time to read for class, sort mail, reply to emails, etc.
It is wake-up time. From now until bedtime (around 7:00 pm), we are up and on the go. I try to use this time for playtime. Tummy time, books, baby gym, or the exersaucer are all fair game. I try to put my phone down or even away so that Baby has my full attention. One of the best things we can do is whatever other activities, we "talk" about our day. I make an effort to allow him opportunities to respond when asked questions with squeals, coos, and other noises.
At least twice a week, sometimes more, 6:00 o'clock means bath time. With the onset of colder weather, I run a small space heater in the bathroom for about thirty minutes before I put run his bath. Baths can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes and are a popular activity, featuring bubbles, duckies, and lots of water. I can count on a bath when it has been a particularly rough or fussy day to help him relax and get ready for the day to wind down.
Whether or not we took a bath, around 6:45 we start to get ready for bed. He receives a baby massage with organic coconut oil (baby lotions irritate his skin) and is snuggled up in pjs. I swear by the baby massage; I can really tell a difference between the nights he has had it and nights he has not in regards to how quickly he goes down and how well he sleeps through the night. It doesn't have to be anything special, just short (5-10 minute) rub down.
When 7:00 rolls around, we start to relax. We may read a book or two, rock, or sing songs. He is currently fascinated by hands, so he really enjoys songs with words and motions. But this is all contingent on what his body language says. If he is rubbing is eyes and ears and acting lethargic, we skip it all and eat another milk-meal.
Nursing tends to put him help him relax, if not fall asleep. Once he seems content and full, I transfer him to his bassinet in our bedroom. He still sleeps in the room with us in his own bed. Sometimes he may need to be rocked or held a little longer after eating, but he is almost always sound asleep by 8:00.
8:00 (or whenever he's down for the night)
My personal rule is that the TV or personal reading books do not come out until after everything on the to-do list is done including preparing and cleaning up dinner, whatever is on the cleaning schedule for the day, any homework or reading that needs to be done, and preparing breakfast/coffee/lunch for the following day.
After everything has been checked off of the list, I wash my face and moisturize, brush my teeth, and take my vitamins. From there, I snuggle up on the couch with a dog or two and a cup of tea and take some time for myself. The tea and vitamins are all nursing-support-related (which I can share more about if anyone is interested). Every evening's goal is find at least an hour to relax, catch my breathe, and enjoy something as simple as cup of tea and some sort of entertainment.
Come 10:00, if I'm not already in bed, I'm heading to the bedroom. I put my phone on "Do Not Disturb" mode and may read a bit while giving the little one his last feeding of the day. Typically, this "dream feed" keeps him content until around 4-6 am.
And that's that! Every day is a little different but we can reliably get him to bed by 8:00 and latest and I think that is the most important part of the evening. Why? Because the best parents are happy, healthy parents. Parents who take time for themselves, who exercise, who eat healthy meals. And sometimes that is difficult to do when Baby is awake.
Let me know if you're interested in hearing more about breastfeeding and what I do to support that or my cleaning schedule I mentioned earlier!
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