New-Mom Promises That Are Fine to Break

Creating a routine

The Promise: I'll create a daily routine and stick with it.
When her daughter, Alice, was an infant, Danielle Chiotti, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, kept naptime sacred. But things have been different with her second-born, Harry, whose snooze schedule conflicted with pickup from Alice's school. That meant Chiotti frequently had to wake him to go get his sister. Can you say cranky afternoon?

The Reality: Routines matter, but parenting requires flexibility.
"Consistency is important for babies because they seek safety and security in the world," Lerner says. "Routines provide predictability." If, from time to time, you have to get to the post office by 5 P.M. or run out to buy milk and diapers before the sitter arrives, then of course it's fine to soldier on through naptime with the understanding that your baby might be grumpy during those necessary errands. "Parents' needs matter too, and it's a true challenge to find a balance," Lerner says.

So how to accomplish anything outside the house and still help your baby get the naps he requires? For Chiotti, it ultimately meant shifting Harry's naptime to earlier in the day. As she made the transition, she relied on a network of friends and relatives to pick Alice up so Harry could finish his nap. On the days it didn't work out, Chiotti simply woke Harry a bit early, and they dashed out. And there's nothing wrong with that; the occasional disruption has a way of encouraging babies to be adaptable. "It's easier to function in the world if we're flexible," Lerner says. Promise you'll remember that, okay?

Originally published in the April 2012 issue of American Baby magazine.

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