I’ve had this sneaking suspicion that parents who have kids who sleep easily and well have it easier than parents who have kids who do not. In the aftermath of the 2007 Christmas Chaos, I decided when we got home and Scout went back to work that it was time to get the 8 month old Alex used to napping in his crib. The whole being “on” 24 hours a day has reached the point of sucking beyond the telling of it, so it was time to try.
I’m not going to go into all the thoughts and concepts and readiness that went into this – you have kids – you know what you did, what went into it – we finally got a window to work on it – here we are, ’nuff said.
Anyone who is thinking of buying a book on baby sleep, forget it – use the money to buy a tasty beverage for yourself to drink while reading the archives at Ask Moxie. It’s the most supportive think tank of mommies I’ve ever, ever seen. Moxie herself has said that in the span of time her site has been up that she has had a singular troll. Not bad considering the topics of discussion. Apparently no sanctimommies are allowed.
There was a scrap of advice I read last month that was basically, “I picked two times a day my kid was going in the crib for a ‘nap’, the point wasn’t so much that my kid slept, but that I had 2 times a day I could pee alone and brush my teeth.” Eventually this did turn into an actual nap for her kiddo.
I picked 11am for crib time, I put Alex in the crib and I sat across the room from him on the computer. (Current research shows he freaks his shizzle out if left alone for this.) The first 2 days went like this:
Day 1 –
Nap 1 – 70 minutes to go to sleep, 45 minute nap;
Nap 2 – 50 minutes to go to sleep, 45 minute nap;
Bedtime – 120 minutes to go to sleep, 3 and a half hour sleep. (10 hours total)*
Total sleep 11.5 hours
Day 2 –
Nap 1 – 35 minutes to go to sleep, 90 minute nap;
Nap 2 – 25 minutes to go to sleep, 60 minute nap with patting back down;
Bedtime – 15 minutes to go to sleep, 2 hours sleep (11.5 hours total) **
Total sleep 14 hours
The benefit for me? I get to be on the computer while he is walking around his crib and settling down. I get to use the computer without a little hand grabbing at my keys and trying to break the screen off the back. Once he’s asleep, I get to do cool things like scrapbook. I like this. I like getting to be me for a couple hours a day.
* oh yes. That first bedtime was a treat for all. Technically it was a “No Cry Sleep Solution”, ‘cuz crying? Not so much. No tears. Screaming? Lots and lots. But this was a tantrum. Full blown, hard headed, he was NOT getting his way tantruming. If Alex had words I’m pretty sure the translation was, “Mommy your breath smells like farts, you are fat, you have out of date bad 70’s hair, your clothes suck, your mother is ugly and dresses you funny, your cooking sucks, I HATE YOU MOMMY I HATE YOU!’ I broke a sweat from all the laying him back down when he needed to calm himself, from pulling his legs out straight to keep him from climbing up the crib sides again, from helping him lay down instead of popping back up. It was a matter of wills, you see. In the course of this, he’d suckered me into getting him out of bed, getting nursed to sleep, then popping up to smile and play with daddy as soon as I left the room. He threw down the gauntlet, and this night, this night I was going to win. He was pissed at me, but he wasn’t scared. My hard headed little boy and I were going at it, and I was not letting him win. I was a compassionate victor as I patted him softly and cuddled him under my hand as he sang himself to sleep at last. And he couldn’t have known, that as he slept so soundly on that flannel sheet with the lambs, that I lay awake in bed for the hours he slept, unable to fall asleep until he woke and called for me and I brought him back to our bed, where I’m used to him being. He didn’t know I watched over him as he slept, just like always.
** during that first night, I read Amanda’s post about her first time putting her daughter to bed without “mowk”. I sighed as I listened to Alex screaming at me to piss off from the confines of his crib. The second night, I faced the crib time bedtime with a little sadness for not holding him while he fell asleep, but then as I felt sad about it, he rolled to his tummy and just lay there still, letting me rub circles on his back – something new, this laying still, I rubbed his tiny back, still not too much larger than my hand, I thought of how he will grow tall, how he will grow bigger, how someday my back will be smaller than his, how many more times he and I will go head to head in our stubborn fight to be in the right. I murmured to him about how much I love him, about how proud I am of him for how hard he works learning new things, he snuggled under my hand and closed his eyes and let out his snuffle of breath that let me know he was asleep, and I realized he just gave me a new way to be gentle with him, a new way to be his mommy.