New parents often talk about "getting into a routine" as if it is an essential aspect of good baby care. But even if most parents find life is made easier by having at least some structure to the day, not everyone feels this way. Always remind yourself that having a routine is your choice. The only limits are the ones that you set yourself, and if you do want a routine, you'll need to work at it. Once there, it can either be a life saver or it can be a chain around your ankles - but if you felt it was the latter, you wouldn't have got into it in the first place, would you?
Do I need a routine?
Even if you wouldn't consider yourself routine-bound, it's likely that having children will more or less force you into doing certain things the same way each day. However, the mistake many new parents make is to think that a routine has to be put into place more or less from week one of their baby's life. In fact, the early weeks - and depending on your personality, the early months - can quite easily be fairly relaxed and routine-free.
Try not to have great expectations of getting into a routine early on. After all, a baby doesn't arrive with a routine: look at how many parents with two or more children fit their newborn into the life they're already leading with their older child or children, with hardly a blip.
If you want structure in your life, however, you've got to put it there, and your baby will probably take a while to cotton on. The good news is that babies are very adaptable. It's true that they can cope easily with changes in their day-to-day lives, but it is also true that they can thrive on routine.
Don't forget that babies will make their own changes to the routines you try to set, particularly when they're small. For example, as they grow, you'll find that their sleep and feeding patterns alter all the time, so you can't depend on things staying the same for long.
Adapting to new patterns
If this is your first baby, you're probably used to a working life with a lot of structure. Perhaps things changed from day to day, but you still got up at roughly the same time each morning, made the same journey to your office, went to the same place or places at lunchtime, chatted with the same people, and left work at a similar time. You had ways of doing things that suited you. Suddenly, all that has gone. Now, if you are at home all day, you might face 9 or 10 hours on your own with the baby. What you do, where you go, and who you see is all up to you, and no one and nothing is going to come along and give you a framework unless you decide to put one there.