Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Grieving Stages, Part 2

I tell myself not to get used to any one schedule or routine because the second I do it changes. I know I shouldn't be surprised but somehow it still catches me off guard, probably because I like routine and schedules more than I'm willing to admit. Yet, I blame Ellie's preferene for routine on my husband. Ha.

After a solid week or two of no naps I took matters into my own hands. I refused to accept it and was still in the frustrated stage. I got a lot of feedback after my last post and decided Ellie probably wasn't ready to give up on naps quite yet. But, how does one get a toddler to sleep?

I've found something that has been working for the last week or two. I was trying to quickly get Ellie down for a nap so I could deal with a fussy, sleepy, hungry baby, and then get her down for a nap too. Instead, I tried putting Hazel down first, letting Ellie stay up a bit later, and then getting to spend better quality time reading and getting relaxed before naptime. I then lay with Ellie for a few minutes in bed while she falls asleep.

The positive side to this: Ellie has been napping for 2-3 hours almost every day and she usually falls asleep within 5-10 minutes! Big sigh of relief. Whew.

The negative: After a week of this I was starting to resent the fact that the ONLY way for her to fall asleep was with me by her side. I know, I know, I can't be happy with no naps and I can't be happy with naps. I try to avoid accidental parenting (developing random bad habits or routines to get a child to eat/sleep/do what you want in the moment but suffer long term consequences), and I felt like this was quickly turning into an unbreakable habit.

As per my usual emotional pendulum, I had a cryfest on Sunday afternoon. We were home from church and Ellie wasn't napping. Not only was she not falling asleep while I lay by her but she was hyper and twitchy and not laying still (silly toddler not wanting to hold still). That irked me. Since we got back from Oregon several weeks ago Ellie has been extremely clingy to me and won't let Daddy do much of anything (not from lack of trying on his part!), which means I have to put her to bed and I have to read her books and I have to comfort her when she's having a meltdown and I have to help her go potty. My perfect Toddler Whisperer antics weren't working and once again I felt defeated by the game of Getting-My-Toddler-To-Sleep.

I had a good cry and then had a few aha moments that helped swing my pendulum back the other way.

First aha: It wasn't just this one nap time that was frustrating me. The girls had been taking turns waking up in the middle of the night and I was getting less sleep and feeling extra tired. I'd been slowly keeping a list of things that were making me feel disorganized and overwhelmed. I'm learning as part of my personality that my life feels chaotic and I get stressed when this small list gets too long in my head.

What was stressing me out? Oh, things like Christmas is coming and oh my gosh I haven't even thought about gifts but I want to make homemade gifts which take a lot of time and energy and thought; and, our house is a mess and that makes me feel anxious living in a small space; and, I need to order more cloth diapers because I'm tired of using one or two disposables between every laundry cycle; and, I want to spend quality time with my husband who I feel I'm ignoring; and, what should I make for dinner this week?; and, well, you get the picture.

Second aha: Some days Ellie might nap and other days she won't. New plan: continue to do what I've been doing (put Hazel down first, then Ellie) and lay with her for a few minutes. But, give myself a time limit. I can usually tell if she's going to fall asleep within a few minutes depending on if she settles down and lets me tuck her in or not. If she keeps kicking off her blankets it's possible I may just have to leave her alone and walk away, for her sake and even more for my own.

Third aha: My husband is extremely patient. I've always known this but I'm constantly reminded of this fact.

Fourth aha: I need to be thankful I have two girls who sleep. I get naps and nights that are several hours of sleeping, whereas many of my friends have much bigger sleep issues to contend with. I should probably just stop complaining and whining altogether. 

The girls seemed to have transitioned fairly well to Daylight Savings Time. (TangentCan someone PLEASE tell me why in the world we haven't abolished this practice, when farming is no longer a dominant industry in this country? I know there are more important issues for our politicians to tackle, but couldn't they just tack this on to some random bill like they do for so many other things? While they're at it, why don't they get rid of the Electoral College, too?)

Ellie has always been one to sleep in until 7/7:30 but since our trip to Oregon she has woken up between 6-6:30 almost every morning. Sometimes earlier. I'm hoping it's a phase but also embracing the fact that after two years this might just be her new wake up time. See? This is me growing and accepting changes to my child's routine.

And now I'm going to enjoy the rest of my coffee while I enjoy the peace and quiet of two girls napping.

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