Disclaimer: I know this won’t apply to all families but it very much so applies to ours. Of course, every family is different so this is just our experience. Actually, assume there’s a disclaimer every time I write about parenting/baby stuff.
Kelvin and I thought that having a baby wouldn’t drastically change our lifestyle that much. We had our weekly date nights, occasionally get drinks with friends and have a few board game hang outs a month in addition to fellowship and church. So, we assumed that after Lily, we would probably continue living a very similar lifestyle but only have to cut down on activities a little bit. We assumed Lily would be able to sleep in the stroller/carseat/carrier or whatever we would bring out that day since that’s what most of our friends/cousins did.
Our Lily is a special unique unicorn. She couldn’t nap in her stroller/carseat/carrier. Well, she could sometimes… If it was the stroller/carrier, we had to be constantly walking. If it was the carseat, we had to be constantly driving. Also, all the parenting books say that it’s only a real nap if it’s 1+hours long and if it wasn’t in her bassinet/crib, Lily could only sleep 30 minutes tops. Also, for those who aren’t aware, babies (in the first 6 months give or take) can only stay awake 1-2 hours between naps, so… are you starting to see what makes scheduled activities difficult?
First off, we couldn’t be out for long because Lily would have to go back home to get a good nap in. Once she woke up, we had to feed her (15-20 minutes), changer her diaper (5 minutes), get her dressed for outside (5 minutes), and then spend time driving to wherever we were going to go. Sometimes it would be a short 5 minute drive but sometimes it could be a half hour ride. Given, we had to also drive back home in time, it didn’t leave us with much time to spend out with friends. When she could sleep in her portable bassinet, we were able to stay at our friend’s or family’s homes for longer, but once she outgrew it we had a hard time.
Also, our Lily was not and is still not on any predictable schedule. All I know is that she wakes up sometime between 6am-7am, and goes to bed sometime between 6pm-7pm. Everything in the middle is up in the air. I know that she stays up 2-2.5 hours between each naps, but the unpredictable thing is how long her naps will be. It can range anywhere from 30 minutes on a bad day to 2 hours on a good day and it’s never consistent.
So, because the fact that Lily isn’t a great sleeper (read: can’t sleep anywhere) and that she’s unpredictable, attending scheduled activities of any sort is difficult. We didn’t realize it, but we actually went to a lot of scheduled activities.. such as church service, fellowships, family dinners, lunch dates, doctor’s appointments, and we wanted to go to swimming and baby sign language lessons.
It took some getting used to but we’re pretty good about it now. We prepare everything that we’ll need when we go out whilst Lily is napping so that once she wakes up, we can go. Now that I bottle feed her, I can feed her while we’re out so we save some time there. And depending on the day, we can stretch her awake time a little bit more or just deal with a shorter nap. But one thing we will never do is purposely wake her up from a nap to go somewhere.
So, while we have accepted this temporary change in our lifestyle, not all of our friends or family have. I get it if you don’t have kids or aren’t around babies a lot because you really wouldn’t know until you got there. I sometimes just wish that some family members understood more. Their kids may have been able to stay out late or what not, but not ours. It’s just the reality for our family.
Thankfully, we’ve been really blessed with great friends that are really supportive of this fact. They’re super flexible and accommodating with our crazy and somewhat unpredictable schedule and can understand if we have to cancel last minute because Lily is just having one of those days.
So, just a gentle reminder the next time you ask out new parents for coffee/lunch/or whatever to consider if they can do scheduled things or not. Some can (lucky bums!) and some just can’t. You’ll only know if you ask.