The Dreaded Schedule

During some recent observations I have come across two different styles of parenting,

  • The child has a schedule and must stick to it
  • We have a life and do not let the child’s schedule interfere

We have never been big on a schedule.  While keeping in mind how long it has been since a feeding, nap, or changing.  We let him tell us when he was hungry or needed something.  Which allowed us to still go out and get things done because we were/are always prepared for anything.

We have run into parents who are so set on a schedule that they won’t leave the house if their child needs to eat a full meal or is still napping.  However, operating on a set schedule, it seems to me, really prevents the parents from having a life.  Sure you can go out after the child has waken up and has been fed but if you stick to that schedule and only allow him to take naps and eat at home you really only give yourself a 2-4 hour window to get anything done.

You mean I get to skip a nap and go Christmas shopping!!!!!! (© The Rookie Dad)

We are not afraid to feed the Kid in public and we are not afraid to let him sleep even for just 30 minutes and then wake him to do something important that we need go to.  During this recent observation, I saw parents that said their child must eat at home and eat a full meal.  Again, we do feed the Kid a full meal even while we are out, we pack extra food to feed to the Kid. This flexibility is needed during certain situations and some parents are not willing to give that flexibility.

You can call this planning, you know your child’s schedule and you know what your schedule is.  We try to interweave his schedule with ours and it works almost flawlessly.   The Kid does have his moments where he hasn’t napped and gets very cranky which makes for a miserable lunch or afternoon.  Hot Mama and I do not dwell on those times so that it prevents us from wanting to go out with the Kid again, 90% of the time the Kid is awesome!

How do you handle your child when life events happen like weddings, funerals, graduations, and the such? Do you keep your child to the schedule he has created and show up late because the time didn’t work for your child? Or do you try to change your child’s schedule so that you get to something on time and are still able to enjoy yourself?



  1. Gary Creasman (@1SuprDADD) December 3, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I think if you operate solely on your child’s schedule, then you’ve already made the mistake of letting the child run your life. To your point, you have a life and you have things you need to get done. Once you’ve learned your child’s schedule, you make it work with yours and you live together, not just on his/her time frames. I promise as the child grows up, the ability to stay on a perfect schedule is not going to be there, so why not teach them how to adapt now.

    1. therookiedad December 3, 2011 at 11:14 AM

      We try not to let the Kid run our life although it may seem like it to some people we don’t, and when we have things going on we want him to be able to adapt just like you said.

  2. thelifeofjamie December 3, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    My kids fortunately are old enough where the variability is easy to deal with. They get tired, they fall asleep…doesn’t matter where. Sometimes it’s in the car, sometimes on the couch and sometimes on the floor. I do try and make it so they are home for some quiet time in the afternoons, but they can both go without naps if they need to.

    It’s more of an excuse than anything…”sorry, she has to take a nap. I can’t meet you at the ____”

  3. Ben December 5, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    It seems like we can go too far in either direction on the scheduling/flexibility spectrum. I think the main thing is to understand the principles underneath our parenting decisions and let them guide us – rather than just following our kids or our whims. For example, one principle at our house is that life does not center around our kids, so sometimes they will need to be flexible in order for the family to join in on other activities. On the other hand, another principle that we have is that our kids should be our burden – not other people’s. So if missing a nap is going to leave our kids so cranky that they disturb others…we’ll probably stick with the schedule.

    It’s an ongoing learning process for me!

    1. therookiedad December 6, 2011 at 7:58 AM

      There are times that we do hit both extremes. When we know that a disaster would loom if we did get him off schedule because it has been days without some sort of normalcy. Then there are also times when we know that we can get him off schedule for alittle bit. For the most part we don’t operate on a schedule.

  4. Daddy's in Charge? December 5, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    The kids have always been in tow… We have never been the types of parents that needed to have their child nap in a crib or eat at home. If we lived our lives like that we would never get anything done or be able to go anywhere. Life happens, it doesn’t happen on a schedule.

  5. melissa December 6, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    For bedtime, we stick to the schedule as much as we possibly can. He is very schedule driven and used to his 7/7:30 bedtime now, so we do all we can to stick with it.

    Nap time is a little different. The morning nap we try to make sure he goes down at the normal time and we let him sleep until he wakes up. If we have somewhere to go and he is still sleeping, it kind of depends on the event. A laid back BBQ at someone’s house? We show up when we can. A real event like a wedding or something of that nature? We wake him up and get there on time.

    But if we are out and about and it runs into a meal or nap time, we don’t rush home to feed him or put him down. We feed him on the go and maybe take the long way home and hope he’ll fall asleep in the car for a bit.

    We tried winging it at first, but it just didn’t work for us. He is a much happier baby when he’s on his schedule, so we stick with it as much as we can. The schedule makes everyone happy!

    1. Mom, JD December 7, 2011 at 5:59 AM

      We, too, mostly stick to a sleeping schedule. Yes, it sucks that we (or one of us, at least) is tied down for a big chunk of time each afternoon. Earlier, when my little guy had no real schedule, he just slept wherever & whenever. He’s been down to one nap a day for a while now & that time is pretty sacred. He just needs it & he’s such a busy little guy that he would never stop for long enough to let us know when he was tired or just let himself fall asleep for a good nap. Also he doesn’t sleep for 12 hours a night & needs a long nap every day.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that, yes, there are extremes but kids are also just different. Some are more flexible than others & It takes time to find that balance between their need & ours.

      But nice post! As someone who sticks (mostly) to a schedule it’s good to be reminded that it’s OK to mess with it sometimes!

  6. mistressmummy December 8, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Its all about preparation and small changes! If you’re going out, you don’t need to take everything and the kitchen sink, just take the essentials you need and if need must, adapt nap time by half an hour or so, if a child tired, they will sleep in the push chair no matter where they are and if they’re hungry, they will eat!


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