Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BEING A PARENT (aka how a little tough love worked for me)

Being a wife, mom, student, marathoner, etc... is hard work. SERIOUSLY HARD. A few months ago I posted what my daily schedule looks like. It is freaking NON-STOP from sun-up to sun-down. Things have changed - since K stopped nursing, our nanny-share moved to our house, marathon training hasn't officially begun - but my days are still busy. There definitely are not enough hours in the day or night. And when I put my head on the pillow, I want to sleep through the night (even if the night is only a few hours long).

Back in August we went to the beach and K's sleep schedule was rocked. HARD. My little girl who would normally sleep from 10ish to 5:30am was acting like an infant... up every couple of hours, wanting milk in the middle of the night, etc... Some bad habits were built. And we, as parents, were to blame. Her going to bed habits and sleep schedule were all off. We continued to treat her like a baby. I would spend upwards of an hour each night rocking her to sleep. By 9pm I was just getting her to sleep and still needed to do homework, run (if I skipped in the AM), and eat dinner.

K definitely owned me.

And I was miserable. Either I wasn't running or I wasn't getting enough sleep. And I definitely wasn't doing enough homework. I was grumpy. I was mad at myself. I was mad at D - mad that he wasn't doing more and mad that he was doing things that I should be doing (no win situation for him). It was a deadend situation.

SOMETHING needed to change.

On New Year's Eve, we went to a wedding. We got home around 2am. K was up at 2:45. I was up with her until after 5am. It was miserable. I was mad at her. I was mad at myself (you see the MAD theme, yes). I finally put her in her crib, told her I loved her, and walked out of the room. She cried. I cried. I woke D. We needed to talk...

I told him how mad I was; how something needed to change. And we came up with a plan.

We started a new bed/nap routine with K that includes some tough love. She gets her milk before both bedtime and naptime, in the evenings we brush her teeth, and we'll rock her or pat her back for a few minutes. Then we are out of there. She is responsible for falling asleep on her own. And she's responsible for sleeping through the night. No milk in the wee hours of morning. No cuddling.

To use K's new favorite string of words: "No, no, no, no, no!"

We've had a few tough nights with a crying baby in the room next door. And she usually fusses when I leave her room at night. Now the middle of the night cries are few and far between and the nighttime fussing is getting shorter. I only had to sleep one night in our basement because of her crying!

And I feel alive again. I'm not mad. I'm getting rest. Both D and I are able to exercise. I have time to do homework. And we're eating dinner before 10pm.


And things aren't just good for me. K is sleeping longer each night (not waking until 7:30 most mornings). On days I go to school I usually don't see her. This is sad, but I'm able to get ready so much faster, am at school earlier, and so eager to see her in the afternoon.

The discipline has been good for all of us.


Sarah said...

I understand you wholly! :) So glad everyone is feeling better.

Ruthie said...

I am intrigued. So what happens when she wakes up in the middle of the night for milk? Do you go into her room to check on her? How long does she cry before going back to sleep? Did you have problems with her not calming down?

I definitely feel like L owns me. Our problem is that now she's not in a crib, she's either banging on her door, of if I forget to close her door, she is running into the room tugging on my sleeve. Ugh!

You are definitely smart to do this now!

slowly growing old together said...

Ruthie -

If/when K wakes up in the middle of the night, we leave her alone for 10 minutes. If she is screaming, we go into her room, tell her it is night-night time, lay her down, and pat her. If she asks for milk, we tell her no and that she cannot have any until morning because we have already brushed her teeth. After about 10 tries, she now realizes that there is no milk in the middle of the night.

On the nights when she is up, but not screaming - talking, moaning, whimpering - we just leave her alone. These nights tend to go on forever. Hence my sleeping in the basement!

We have had a few instances where she hasn't calmed down right away and we've given her a couple of 10 minute scream sessions. They are LONG periods of time, but she has learned to calm herself down and we feel good that we're not allowing her to scream for too long.

I've also found that sitting in the chair in her room for a few minutes with my eyes closed while she is calming down is extremely helpful.

One of our other tactics is laying bed praying that she'll be comforted; that she'll know peace; that her blankets will warm her; that she'll be soothed to sleep by a peace that is not understandable. Sometimes it doesn't work right away, but it helps me get through the 10 minute scream sessions!