I’ve been trying this new thing for the past few weeks. It’s crazy and really unbelievable that I would attempt this sort of thing. I am a woman who values sleep and does not care very much for the morning. I was also a little girl, teenager, young lady, etc. who had strong opinions regarding the high priority of resting until the last possible moment. For some reason, my children (well, my sons) do not share this love for lazy mornings in bed. Over the past several years, I have been awakened quite regularly at a very early hour by a small boy (or two). Just this past month, I decided to stop fighting this awakening and actually get up and enjoy some morning reflection and prayer time. So, I’m getting up when it still dark as night, because it really is still night, as far as I’m concerned, and enjoying a little quiet time reading the Bible, praying, journaling, and occasionally reminding my boys that it’s still night time, which means quiet time. And honestly, it is going great.
Here are some things I’m thankful for today:
-Naps all together in a warm bed on a cold afternoon
-Eila getting her stride circle: success after lots of hard work
-Brian being well last night and not complaining about the clean-up he did
-Boxes full of books to read and time to read some
-Quiet in the evening; time to myself
I love the idea of neighbors helping each other and people coming alongside to support one another. I just hate to be the one to need the help. More accurately, I hate to have to ask for that help. I don’t like to inconvenience people, but mostly I don’t like to talk to people that I don’t know really well. I especially don’t like to ask acquaintances for favors.
Today, though, I did it. TJ was sleeping and I really didn’t want to wake him up to take Eila to school. So, I ran over to my neighbors house and asked her to come over and stay at my house while I took Eila to school. She was more than happy to oblige and it was a huge blessing to me. Maybe she’ll be more inclined to ask a favor of me now… for some reason that would make me feel better.
1. Family. I love them all. It’s just not right that there would have so many awesome people in one family and that I am apart of that family. I think I have something like 75 people in the extended family and they are all so much fun!
2. Faith. Who and where would I be without the saving grace that is constantly at work changing me and has given me life?
3. Friends. It boggles my mind to think of all the people that I have called friend and have returned that over the years. I am most thankful for those who still call me friend when I am not a friend.
4. Food. Honestly, I love to eat and create things with food. I cannot think of anything more fun that sharing a delicious meal with friends or family.
5. Games. Playing games is really fun and helps me to be at ease in a group of people when I wouldn’t normally.
6. Home. It’s where the heart is (and also the messy kids and hubby that I love so much!)
7. Computer. I really like to have all sorts of information available for me to learn and get organized, etc. It’s so convenient.
9. Books. So many to read, so little time.
10. Bed. I’m really tired and it’s so comfy…
After a fabulous visit with family over the past two weeks, we are all pretty tired. Apparently, family fun involves leaving our house every morning with lot of diapers and a few changes of clothes to return home well after the wee ones’ usual bedtime, think 3-4 hours after.
So, tonight the kids were all in bed at 7pm and Brian and I watched (part of) a free movie from amazon-Thanks to freeismylife.com! While this isn’t at all normal, it’s the fast track to get everyone back in the swing of normal. Here’s hoping that they all sleep until the sun rises…
I have never been one to struggle with falling asleep. I think I need more sleep than the average person, but for the last few weeks, I have been up so late because I can’t seem to wind down and go to sleep before midnight. If my kids slept through the night, this would still afford me plenty of sleep. It seems that as soon as I am just asleep or almost there, one of my lovely little ones comes in and needs to cuddle or a drink or something else for which I am the only one who can help. So, I am getting to sleep around 2am and then being awakened at around 4:30am to welcome a young boy who sleeps best in Mama’s bed until around 6:30am when he doesn’t sleep anymore and insists – very, very loudly – that it’s 8 o’clock and time to wake up.
If I seem a little irritable or look a little rough around the edges, you now know one possible reason why. Of course, there are lots of other excuses I could dream up as well.
This is where I often live during the day. Like right now, during what is supposed to be nap time, but is actually something more like wrestling and gymnastics with lots of laughing and squealing. And yet, I choose to sit here and pretend that all is right in our house and that they are just getting the last wiggles out before settling themselves in and sleeping for a good long time. Denial of reality isn’t always a bad thing.
Every day we have the same routine with lunch followed by a two-hour quiet rest time, during which both children are supposed to be in their beds sleeping or reading books quietly. Every day we have the same routine where they play and talk and jump and throw things and fight and cry and then when I’m just about to give up on the naps, they fall asleep. It isn’t actually like this every day, but it feels like it happens a lot. I am hoping that all the noise that I hear through the wall will suddenly stop and they will get the sleep they so desperately need.
Update: They did not sleep on this day, but instead Eila made a huge mess and nearly killed herself. Josiah ended up getting sick the next day (probably from lack of sleep) and Eila had to miss her swim class because she was too tired…
A while back, my pediatrician mentioned to me that it might be time to start weaning my 16-month old (who is now 18-months old), specifically at night…
Dr. Jack Newman writes an article about the nutritional benefits of extended breastfeeding, which my NP didn’t discredit, but did try to discount when I said I feel like I’d like him to get more of his milk from me than from a cow (not in those words, but you get the idea.)
kellymom says it best:
First, please ignore what everyone else says about your baby’s sleep habits and what is “normal.” These people are not living with you or your baby. Unless your doctor sleeps in the next room and your baby is keeping him awake every night, he has no reason to question a healthy baby’s sleep habits. If you and your baby enjoy nighttime feedings, then why not continue? It’s a great way to have time with her, particularly if you are apart during the day…
If the amount that your child sleeps and nurses at night isn’t a major problem for you, then there’s no reason to try to change anything. You are NOT doing a bad thing by nursing on demand; you are doing a wonderful thing for your baby. When you comfort baby at night, you are not teaching her a bad habit: you are teaching her that you are there for her when she needs you — Is security a bad habit?…
Your baby will begin to comfort herself and to sleep for longer stretches at her own developmental pace. If your baby wants to nurse at night, it is because she DOES need this, whether it’s because she is hungry or because she wants to be close to mom. Sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone (like walking or toilet training) that your baby will reach when she is ready to. Trying to force or coax baby to reach this before her time may result in other problems later on.
One of the comments on this Carnival of Breastfeeding post about sleep and breastfeeding answered the very question I have been wanting to know: When does breastfeeding at night become a habit vs. a need and who decides this? Her response was this:
I don’t know that there’s a particular age where it’s definitely considered a habit rather than a need, but from experience I can say it’s the point where the child responds positively to gentle efforts to night-wean. If the child resists night-weaning, then there’s still a “need” for night-nursing, whether that need is physical or psychological or due to teething or illness.
The one thing that made a big difference in stretching out the time between night-nursings for both my kids was a change in the bedtime routine, when they were each ready (around age 2). I would talk to them about the new plan (communication is key!), remind them about the new plan, and implement the new plan: nurse, brush teeth, read stories, sing songs and rest on my chest (or daddy’s) to settle to sleep. Putting the nursing first helped break the sleep association with nursing. As the child got older, we also talked about not nursing until the sun came up. The mum-mums were going to sleep until the sun came up, and once the sun came up the child could nurse again (in the meantime, after a reminder about the new plan, snuggles or water were offered as alternatives to night-nursing if the child woke).
Keep in mind that night-weaning is also not the complete end of night-waking. My five-year-old sleeps well most nights, but sometimes she still asks to come into the family bed in the middle of the night. There are still episodes of illness, and for my two-and-a-half-year-old, teething. The sleep situation improves a lot (I slept from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. last night!!!) but there’s no guarantee of a good night’s sleep! Hang in there!
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be nursing, but I want to make sure Josiah, who doesn’t seem to want to eat too much, is getting nutrients that are easily absorbed. Especially since he can’t be bothered to eat most of what I offer him.
As far as weaning goes, I haven’t offered to nurse in a very long time, and I often offer food and or drinks when I’m asked, but I am too lazy to give up this built-in free and always ready and available comfort and nourishment. There are rules in place for when and where and how we nurse, but as of now, I’m not willing to just cut my kids off. Although, I’m entertaining the idea of a weaning party this summer.
So, for those of you who are wondering (and I know you are out there), yes, I’m still nursing and I am in the process of weaning (my children both eat solid food at least some of time), but see no end anytime soon.
Just in case, you haven’t had enough of my thoughts on discipline, I thought I’d describe a few very typical scenarios in our house.
In the mornings when we need to get somewhere in a timely matter, it can be a little bit of a struggle if the children and I are not working towards the same goal (namely for me: getting ready and leaving on time; and usually for them: have fun & possibly also eat). Pro-actively, I will attempt to make our getting ready as much fun as possible. We might play a game of who can get dressed fastest or make a silly face while getting dressed. We might also sing a song about cleaning up or putting on shoes. In deciding what to wear, warnings and choices are of utmost with Eila. I’ll usually tell her: “We need to get ready for preschool, so in two minutes we are going to go to the bathroom and then get dressed. Would you like to wear pants or a dress?” She almost always chooses dress, so then we head to the closet and I pick out two and say: “Would you like the dog dress or the circle dress?” or she will immediately tell me which one she prefers, and I rarely care. If I want her to wear pants; I will specify why and give her the pick of the drawer. She is much more likely to be agreeable and cooperate with my goal in this way. The GBD 5 Steps are a great tool for when choices aren’t working. Step 4 is to help her and so I do. I’ll get out her clothes and help her put them on so that we can leave when we need to – hopefully, not in a mean way, but because she isn’t able to do it herself, just like I help Josiah.
Another troublesome issue for many folks is eating. I really like the idea that I control when and where my child eats and s/he controls how much. I choose what s/he can eat and she chooses what (from what’s in front of her) s/he does eat. For Eila, this works great because she likes to eat and is almost always hungry. She enjoys a wide variety of foods and is willing to try one bite (which is sort of a rule) of anything and almost always wants more after that first bite, but if not that’s fine. Josiah, on the other hand, does not eat well. So for him, I offer the same wide variety that the rest of us eat with at least one food that I know he likes each day. I offer him foods whenever he asks and it’s reasonable (this is the same for Eila), which is usually every 2 hours. If he wants to eat, he must do so at the table, but since sitting for more than 30 seconds is beyond his ability at this time, he can come and go as often as he likes until I put the food away (usually when Eila is done eating.) As for attempting to break the eating protocol, it’s very simply taking food away. In most cases, the kids are done eating anyway and if not, they can try again by sitting at the table and behaving appropriately and get their food back without much ado. It works very well. I tend not to stress about messes while eating, but if they are goofing off, they are done because I don’t like to clean unnecessarily (or really at all.) We try to act in the way that we want the kids to act and they want to act like us, so it works out.
When the kids don’t listen and don’t obey, when they hit each other, climb on dressers, throw hard & pointy objects and put valuables in the dirty toilet, when they whine, cry, yell, or act disrespectfully and unlovingly (is this even a word – you know what I mean), what happens?
Often there are several phases in the process.
Recently, Josiah has been going through a bit of a challenging stage – testing limits over and over again. He is climbing up the dresser and standing on top, looking out the window or just admiring the new perspective. At first I took him down and clearly told him “NO! You may not climb on the dresser. You can climb on the couch or on the bed.” Then, when he did it again, we repeated this with several “NO”s and put him in his crib for a bit. When he did it again, we repeated the admonition and he stood in the corner for a brief time out. When he did it again (the third time in just 6 waking hours), he went in his crib for a full minute with a simple “No!”. He now says “No, No, No” after he climbs up, which shows me that he at least knows that this is not okay, but isn’t able to stop himself, so if he does it again, I’ll move the dresser. I hope I won’t have to.
Now, Eila is an exceptionally whiny child when she is tired. Most of the time, she is extremely well-spoken for a preschooler, but when tired, she barely manages 2-3 words together and uses either a baby voice or a whiny voice, neither of which I have much patience for. As she has gotten older and I’ve gotten a little bit wiser, things have changed… I used to get really annoyed and just lose it. Now, it takes a bit longer for me to lose it, and before I do, I usually will do a few things to help her cope. First, I offer food or sleep or potty. If she doesn’t choose, I might choose for her by saying: “Do you need to go potty? (wait for answer) Let’s have a little snack or would you like to go back to sleep. If you can’t decide or ask nicely, I’ll just tuck you back in bed.” In the event that she is still cranky after a bowl of cereal- her favorite snack, I offer a little cuddle with Mama (which is often what she really wants, but can’t voice it). When Eila is whining at a store or friend’s house, I’ll simply talk to her calmly (sometimes) with two choices: speak with a nice voice and clearly say what she wants or play/sit/walk quietly. If that doesn’t work, we wrap up and head home as soon as possible because she needs to sleep! When we get home, I’ll put her in her room and let her change into pajamas if she wants (and she always does), then say: “You can read books quietly in your bed or sleep in your bed – I’d like you to sleep, but whichever you do is fine. We all need to take a break for a bit.”
Finally, the sticky issue of other people’s kids… I like the policy of each person taking care of their own kid. When someone hurts my kid, though, it’s really hard not to want to “help” the other parent. I have to resist because I know that each mom knows her kid best and what works with him/her, and plus, I need to take care of my own hurt kid. If I’m watching someone else’s kids, they are have the same rules and respect that my kids do – with a little more grace. The golden rule “Treat others as you want to be treated” works with parenting too.
Basically, where there is love, grace abounds and so do limits that have to be enforced. The more I learn, the more I have to adjust my expectations and know that I have more to learn!