Probably the best piece of advice I got before becoming a parent was to ignore everything that the books tell you should be happening. I studiously ignored all the books I was 'supposed' to buy, like The Baby Whisperer, or anything by Gina Ford.
To an extent I agree. As a Guardian reading, lefty-type liberal (and as a teacher) I know that all children are individuals and have their own way of doing things and their own pace of development. It's worked fine for me in terms of routine setting for the baby, because I'm quite happy to be led by Archie and what he needs. I feel like I'm in tune with what he wants (most of the time) and that he seems to be settling into his own routine with no need for me to impose one on him. I don't really care about whether or not the hoovering gets done, or what time I eat lunch, so the lack of structure in the day doesn't bother me. I hope that this means I will have a child who doesn't have to work to a rigid structure, which will mean that eventually we'll be able to do different things on different days without panicking because his nap is supposed to be at such a time.
I allowed myself one book, which looked to be sensible; from the 'What to Expect' series. And it's been fantastic, a very useful reference book.
It has this one little section at the beginning of the chapter which talks about baby's development this month, what sort of things he 'might' be doing. It comes with the usual disclaimer; all babies develop at their own pace, you shouldn't panic if baby isn't rolling over or computing complex quantum equations quite yet.
I'm a sensible human being. Add to this the fact I have spent years telling parents who ask me at parents' evening 'how is my child doing compared to the rest of the class' that that is not a pertinent question and you'd think that I'd be able to blithely read these 'developmental milestones' and ignore them. Still, here I am, reading the 'third month' milestones and worrying that Archie hasn't made a single attempt to roll over. He hates being on his tummy if he's on the floor. Still, it's a milestone, a box he should be checking, so here I am, lying him down 4 times a day and trying to teach him to roll over, in the hope he'll do it before he hits 12 weeks.
And so I find myself with a new 'to do' on my list (which still doesn't include washing up or household chores of any description). Item 1: channel the me from 4 months ago who would have laughed at the idea of hitting targets at 3 months old. Item 2: Cut out the pages in my book which describe the milestones. Item 3: Take the time to play with my baby with no agenda in mind, and enjoy it.
Because these precious early days won't last for much longer than the blink of an eye.