Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who’s the boss?

I’m a total geek. And a little OCD to boot. So, it should come as no surprise that I read a lot of books on raising kids, particularly on establishing good sleeping habits. Unfortunately, what I’m realizing is that, other than protecting them from overstimulation (see our utter meltdown below), it seems that these kids are going to fall into a schedule all on their own, and the best I can do is let it happen.

Take this morning for example. You see, yesterday my parents took care of Monkey Girl and Sweet Potato while I was at a half-day meeting at work. (Yes, I’m still on unpaid maternity leave. More on that crap later.) I tried to explain to them what we’re trying to do by trying to follow Dr. Weissbl*th’s “Hea1thy Habits” tips. i.e., watching for drowsy signs and soothing the kids to sleep when they start to get tired, motionless sleep, not keeping them up for more than 1-2 hours at a time, etc. And I explained that we’re trying to ease them into a schedule of three naps—one somewhere around 9:00, another somewhere around lunchtime, and a final late afternoon nap.

Unfortunately, something got lost in the translation. My parents took that to mean nap them in their swings (with the swings on) from 8:45 until after noon.

Now, if they slept that long on their own, then obviously they were tired, and there’s not much we can do. But, the fact that the swing was on the whole time makes me think that we kept them asleep when they otherwise might have woken up to eat, etc. Plus, according to W*issbluth’s sleep bible, that kind of sleep is far less than ideal, so they probably didn’t get the restorative sleep they really needed.

Then, since my parents had them pseudo-napping in their swing until lunchtime, their afternoon nap got all kinds of screwed up. And they basically didn’t sleep again until bedtime, with the exception of a tiny catnap. The result? Evening meltdowns.

The thing is, the reason I’m really trying to get their naps right is that I don’t want our primary interactions with our kids when we go back to work to be evening meltdowns. That just sounds stressful and upsetting to me. Well, that and having overtired kids is a disaster. Both hubby and I really need our sleep, so I expect that the stickies will be similar. (Sweet Potato, especially. He really gets cranky when he’s tired. Monkey Girl—other than when she’s EXHAUSTED, is the freaking happiest baby in the world.)

So, last night I decided that for the rest of the week I was going to work really hard to get this nap thing right, to see how it worked, so I could give more specific guidance to my parents and the nanny next week when I’m back at work. And, my obliging wee ones slept until 6:00am this morning (after going to bed at 8:00—we’re so f’ing spoiled I can hardly stand it). So, I fed them and at 7:00am thought, “I’m going to take them on a walk with the dog and play with them a bit and try to push their morning nap to as close to 9:00am as I can.

But then, both kids fell fast asleep on the walk. When we got home at 7:30 I thought, “well, we’ll just put them down for a few minutes and I’m sure they’ll wake right up. They always do.”

They’ve been asleep ever since. Proving yet again that I’m not in control here and that, they are going to fall into their own patterns in spite of what I’m doing.

So, perhaps I should just pay better attention to them, make sure not to get them overtired, and let the chips fall where they may, huh? They’re going to continually test my inner geek/inner planner. ☺

Oops…8:25 and they’re both waking up. Let’s see how the rest of the day goes.


Anonymous said...

Babies decide their own schedules based upon their own BIOLOGICAL needs. Try to manipulate their basic needs so that it will fit your careers is not good parenting. Good parenting is one of you staying home with them so they can get everything they need from you including the freedom for their own bodies to determine basics like eating and sleeping. I am so sorry that your "career" takes presidence over your children and their very basic human needs. When you put them first, ahead of EVERYTHING else, including money, then you are good parents. Until then---

Mrs. KM said...

Anonymous: Based on your ignorant comment I'm sure you've never even read Weissbluth's book on the importance of healthy sleep for children. This has nothing at all to do with whether parents work, but has everything to do with whether parents have the fortitude to make healthy choices for their children. Your comment about giving children "freedom to determine basics like eating and sleeping" indicates you let your children run wild day and night, sleeping only when they actually drop to the floor from total exhaustion. And I'm sure their eating habits are just as unhealthy, since you let them decide for themselves what they want to eat.

Frankly, if I were the Judge of Parenting (and I'm not and NEITHER ARE YOU) I'd give a higher score to a working parent who strives to meet her children's basic nutritional and sleep needs than to a stay-at-home mom who doesn't care enough about her children's health to make them get enough sleep or nutrition.

Just because you choose to stay home and live like a pauper doesn't mean everyone else has to. Many families just don't have a choice.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is old but I just had to comment on what "anonymous" has said is good parenting. My sister-in-law is a stay-at-home Mom and is doing everything according to what "anonymous #1" says is the best way to parent. My nephew is 2 and 1/2 years old. He wakes up when he wants to and he sleeps when he wants to, he eats when he wants to, and doesn't eat when he doesn't want to. Maybe this all sounds good in theory but let me tell you, his eating habits are deplorable (of course they would be if he's calling the shots) and his sleeping is even worse. He is constantly over-tired as is evident by his tantrums and outbursts and he is just awful to be around. He is always cranky and rubbing his eyes and very, very tired. But he doesn't want to sleep, of course, so they don't make him. I'm telling you that he is being raised exactly as "anonymous #1" says a child should be raised and he is a terror. If he is an example of raising a child with this so-called "good parenting" then count me among the selfish. I am raising my 4 month old twins to sleep, even if they don't want to, because I (as an adult) know what's better for them than they do. As a result, they are well-rested and pleasant to be around so far. I am hoping to be able to continue to "manipulate" their schedule (if that's what you want to call it) so that they continue to sleep (even if they don't want to) to ensure that they are always well-rested.

I just had to give my example of what this so called "good parenting" is doing to my nephew.

Kudos to Sticky for doing what is best for her children.

Sarah said...

judgey people suck. sticky rocks.

this is so stupid it doesn't warrant any further thought than that.