Friday, November 6, 2009

Clarifying Sleep, Not Sleeping and the Family Bed

I'm going to clarify a few things about the sleep situation in my house.

Yes, I probably do complain about sleep a lot. However, I doubt anyone has noticed when months go by when I don't even mention sleep. That is because the sleep is really good at those times. I'm not normally supersticious, but I am about this because it feels like the few times I've mentioned good sleep happening, it's gone right out the window (it would probably happen anyway, but just in case it's karma...). So you should all know that if I'm not talking about sleep, than the Pumpkin is sleeping through the night in her own bed consistently, the Pookie is getting sleeps in reasonable chunks and Londo and I are well rested. (It happens! I swear! It's happened all this week, except for the hour early wake ups because of the time change!)

To understand some of our parenting decisions around sleep, you have to understand where Londo and I are coming from with some childhood history.

caramama's baggage:
I had trouble falling asleep when I was little. My mom doesn't remember it being an issue, but my dad does and I DO! I have vivid memories of two different scenerios that would happen when I was 4 or 5 or 6 and had trouble falling asleep:
1) My dad would lie down with me to help me settle down and fall asleep. Probably half the time, he would fall asleep first and I would lean over him with a big smile until he opened his eyes and we would laugh. I would finally fall asleep and he'd go back to his own bed. (This is what my dad remembers.)
2) I would call for my mom from my bed, and my dad would yell to leave mom alone because she was trying to sleep and that I should just go to sleep. It wasn't that easy, just go to sleep. (My dad does not remember this.)

Guess which scenerio I preferred? Not having anyone come to me when I couldn't fall asleep was very upsetting. I was a sensitive child, and this was actually a bit traumatic to me. As an adult I totally understand, but as a child, I felt a little abandoned that my parents wouldn't come when I felt I needed them. Meanwhile I have very fond memories of when my dad would lie with me, even if he'd get upset and tell me to settle down.

Early on, Londo and I discussed my feelings on this and how I didn't want to do CIO. He agreed and was/is completely on board.

Londo's baggage:
As a child, Londo was scared of the dark. He has a very busy brain, and when it gets going it's hard to settle down. When it would get going in the dark, he would get scared and have trouble being by himself. (This is my understanding of it.)

Londo's parents always let him come into bed with them if/when he woke in the night. It didn't matter the reason or the age. It was always an option to him. He didn't always need to go into their bed, but he felt safe and secure knowing he always could.

Early on, Londo and I discussed his feelings on this and how he wanted to always let the kids in our bed if they needed it. I agreed and was/is completely on board.

Parenting the Pumpkin at night:
The thing about my lovely daughter is that she has had issues with falling asleep and sleeping alone since she was born. Before she was born, we had decided that we would set her up in our room in the cosleep that attaches to the bed. She would sleep in there with us for at least the first 6 months. As a breastfeeding mother, I knew it would be helpful to have her right there next to me for the feedings. As a father who was planning to share as much of the night-time parenting as possible, Londo also found it easy to have her, a changing table and a chair for rocking right there in our room.

Without once again going into my daughter's history of sleep, I'm just going to sum it up by saying that when there is a sleep regression, growth spurt, teething, developmental spurt, etc., it seriously affects my daughter's sleep. It doesn't matter where she is sleeping and how well she had been sleeping. We've had periods where she slept through the night in our room, her crib in the nursery, a big girl bed in the nursery, and the big girl bed in her big girl room. Slept through with no problems. But then, for whatever reason, she also has periods where she is unable to sleep no matter where she is and what we do to help. Luckily, it's gotten better as she's gotten older.

For those of you who have never had a child who really had serious, long-term difficulties sleeping, I don't think you will truly understand or even believe me when I say that it's just the way she is and it's not due to our parenting styles and decisions. And you don't have to believe me or agree with me.

For those of you who have had a child like mine, I'm guessing you might have nodded your head in agreement to what I've written. I hear stories of hope from Charisse, posts on how to cope from Cloud and words of understanding from mom2boys* and others. It's always nice to know that my child isn't the only one like this and that there are other parents who struggle through some of the nights as we do.

And that's why I continue to write about the sleep issues in my house. It's in a large part to share my stories so others out there with difficult sleepers will know they are not alone. Partly it's also to vent and complain. Even though we try no-cry methods to get her to sleep and even though we let her come in our bed when she can't sleep, I am still going to vent and complain about the rough nights. And that doesn't mean that I or Londo have any desire to change our parenting decisions. I'm a woman. I get to complain when I want. ;-)

A final point I wanted to write out is something that Londo and I were discussing the other day. We definitely lean towards the "attachment parenting" style by instinct. Luckily, we both have the same feelings on the matter and are usually on the same page. In addition, we are both research-a-holics, and we researched the heck out of parenting, attachment parenting, co-sleeping and all sorts of other related things.

We believe the research that supports attachment parenting. (Check out this site for an overview of the science supporting it.) We believe that providing a secure parent-child relationship in which we are there for them to meet their needs in these ways allows them to go off on their own when they are ready and in the ways they are ready. We believe the research that says attachment parenting and co-sleeping does not make kids over-clingy, but instead provides them with a feeling of having a safety net, thereby allowing them to feel free to explore and adventure on their own.

We do not feel the need to push our children to independence. In fact, the Pumpkin is EXTREMELY independent in almost every way. We believe that self-soothing is a skill like any other and that different children are capable of different levels of self-soothing at different times. We can encourage its development, but we can't force it. Just like communication skills or physical (movement) skills. We do not believe that the skill of self-soothing is tied to a child's ability to be independent. It's simply another skill that children will learn within the time frame that is right for them. We believe that as parents, it is our responsibility to help her with this skill and be supportive of her during the time period she is unable to master it.

I believe that other ways of parenting are great also. I never believe anyone who says that [whatever way they believe in] is the only way to parent. Each person, each parent, each child is different and unique. We all have to find ways that work for us and our families. This is the way that feels comfortable to Londo and me and seems to work for our children.

Finally, Londo was saying to me the other day that this is really a short time period in our children's lives and our lives. Soon (too soon) the kids will be shutting doors in our faces and running off to be with their friends instead of spending time with us. He said that he wants to enjoy the time with them when they'll let us snuggle with them and sleep with them. When the Pumpkin comes into our bed in the middle of the night these days (it's maybe once a week), she almost always immediately cuddles up to my husband or me and falls back asleep. That's some sweet snuggling time, and we are cherishing it while we can.

But I'm still going to complain at times. Cause dudes, I'm tired. ;-)

*Corrected mom2boys's name! Oops! Sorry. I even proof-read, but I have been crazy at work and home. And did I mention tired?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Girls Go Trick-or-Treating

The rain doesn't bother me. I hardely ever even use an umbrella. I rarely do anything with my hair, and I have plenty of hoods and hats that work to keep the rain off my face. I don't mind getting a little wet, especially when I'm dressed in casual clothes.

I think this is a hold over from my childhood, because I've found that usually uninfluenced kids aren't bothered by the rain. Of course, I'm sure that's not true for every kid, and how often are kids uninfluenced by mom and dad who don't want to get wet. But my girl? She does not seem to mind the rain, especially a light drizzle. She has no issues (at least right now) wearing a coat and hood, and she loves to hold her umbrella (it's Winnie the Pooh and super cute).

On Halloween, it rained. Luckily, it started raining after our neighborhood's pre-trick-or-treating block party. We met up with the Pumpkin's two friends she used to play with every day when she was home with the nanny. She hadn't seen them since she started pre-school, so it was really great to get together with them. As coincidence would have it, one of her friends dressed up as Snow White and the other as Sleeping Beauty. The Pumpkin was Belle*, so we had three very adorable princess! We took lots of pictures.

The Pumpkin and her friends ate pizza standing in the street with the other families, as the sun was setting. The Pookie and Snow White's baby sister hung out in their strollers. The adults chatted and corralled the 2.5 year olds. As the party was winding down, we headed off to trick-or-treat together.

The Pumpkin thought the whole thing was pretty neat. She loved to look at all the other kids in their costumes. She enjoyed dressing up and telling people that she was "bee-ale" (how she pronounces Belle). She was so happy to see and spend time with her friends. And she was really thrilled with knocking on people's doors and getting candy!

She's at a good stage for repeating what I tell her to say, so she would say "trick or treat" and "thank you" and "happy Halloween" every time I'd prompt her. She was great about picking out one piece of candy. Knowing we would go through her candy once we got home and that we'd keep a close eye on her before then, I let her pick out any candy from the bowls--even those with peanuts and other nuts.

We got to about five or six houses with the girls when the drizzling rain started. Londo had the baby in the stroller covered with a sweater and the canopy over him, but we were both a bit worried about him because he's had a cold over the last week. Londo has also been sick, so even though he had a rain coat, he didn't want to stay out in the rain. Londo and the Pookie went back home to hand out candy.

The Pumpkin and I put on our rain coats and were ready to continue begging for handouts. Our friends, however, were not as prepared or not as comfortable with the rain. They all headed back to their houses. I looked at my girl and asked if she wanted to keep trick-or-treating. The answer was an emphatic yes!

The Pumpkin and I walked, hand in hand, through the rain. Just us two girls. It was dark now, but warm outside. There were others around, going door to door as we were. We admired the spooky decorations. We said hi to the other kids and parents. We collected her loot with good manners. We laughed and talked.

The rain lightened and even stopped, but we had made it back to our house. We waved to Daddy on the porch and got candy from him, too. We smiled at the Pookie in the swing just inside the glass storm door. We told them both about how we went trick-or-treating.

I love Halloween. I always have. But now, with kids? I love it even more. Rain or no rain, I will go out with the kids and enjoy every second of it for as long as they will let me.

*I didn't buy any accessories. I figured she could just wear the tiara I had from my wedding day (why yes, I was a princess on my wedding day). She wouldn't wear it, though, so I put it on my head and wore it around all night. I'm glad I didn't spend money on a crown she wouldn't wear or other accessories she would have taken off and lost.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Did Your Kids Get the Memo?

My kids did not get the memo about the time change. Or maybe they got the memo, but since they can't read or, you know, understand the concept of time, they didn't pay it any attention.

The Pumpkin, who will often lie quietly and wait until 7:00, made it until 5:40 this morning. Her body thought it was 6:40, that would have been pretty good prior to the time change. The killer this morning was that Londo got out of bed to get ready to go to work at that time, so she figured it was time to get up.

And Pookie? He heard his sister up and he is very used to getting up with me about 6 or 6:30, so he craned his neck to look at me and give me his big I'm-awake-aren't-I-cute smile with eyes wide open. I turned my head to the other side, and the Pumpkin was leaning over smiling at me. And that was the end of that.

I might have been able to drift back off to sleep for a while with one awake and the help of the TV, but no way with two awake and looking at me with their adorable little faces!

Maybe next spring they will make the time shift more easily. Maybe the government (or whoever is in charge of these things) will stop this ridiculous daylight savings, because it is NOT saving me any daylight. It is just making my mornings longer, because I still wake up when it's dark out. And it's making our evenings more of a struggle because everyone is tired an hour before we go to bed. We had just gotten things in a pretty good nighttime routine, too...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Question of the Week - Kids Shows You Like

Over the last 2+ years, I've had the opportunity to enjoy (and really NOT enjoy) many different kids shows. When turn on a show for the Pumpkin, we generally put it on Noggin, which is now Nick Jr., and sometimes Sprout. Back in my day, there was Saturday morning cartoons and some on after school, but that was it. There were 4-6 channels (depending on the TV getting in Fox and/or UPN in addition to the networks and PBS), and you were lucky to get Sesame Street AND Mr. Rogers!

With all the variety out there, plus On Demand offering up so many shows with a push of a button, we really can pick out the shows we like and want the Pumpkin to watch, rather than just settling for whatever is on.

So this week's question of the week is:

What kids show do you actually enjoy watching?

I think my favorites are Backyardigans and Wonder Pets. I was not into Wonder Pets at first, but once I saw a couple episodes, I have really started to get a kick out of them. And Backyardigans is so well done and interesting! I'm fine with Dora and Deigo and Ni Hao Kialan. I still really like Toot and Puddle. Oh, and now I've discovered Jack's Big Music Show, which is great for us who love music.

How about you? Any that you actually leave on once the kid leaves the room? Do all the songs get stuck in your head like they do mine?