Sleep. Wonderful sleep. (And a Friday flashback to the sleepless nights.)

I’m saying it. Do I dare? I probably shouldn’t. But I will anyway:

Monkey’s sleeping through the night.

Aside from a few teething-related middle of the night wake-ups, he’s been sleeping through the night for a couple of weeks now. (Of course, now that I’ve proclaimed it here, it is probably jinxed and we will never sleep again, because that is the way the world and babies work.)

In honour of all the parents still in the trenches of the exhausted, delirious, stumbling crib-to-bed-and-back-again routine, here is a flashback to the days when sleep did not come so easily. Take heart, friends.

Monkey missed the memo (originally posted October 6, 2014)


MEMORANDUM

ATTN: Babies

RE: Sleep

It is come to our attention that some of you may be mistaken about sleep. Specifically, how much of it you are supposed to do, and when. Please be advised: babies are to sleep more as they get older, not less.

Thank you.


When Monkey was around three months old, he slept through the night for ten glorious nights in a row. I was refreshed. I was happy. I was that mum, the one who showers and blow-dries her hair and has endless patience and makes homemade salad dressing. “How’s Monkey sleeping?” other mums would ask, and I would say “Oh, actually pretty well now, thank you,” never daring to mention that “pretty well” was code for 8-10 hours straight(!!!) for fear that a) the other mums would hate me and b) the universe would punish me.

And then it ended.

Despite my efforts to appease the cruel universe and keep my good fortune under wraps, Monkey started waking up at night again. He has his ups and downs, usually waking to nurse twice per night. But recently it’s been out of control.

Last night, he woke up approximately 18 times. I say approximate, because by 4:00 a.m. I was delirious. He nursed, he cried, I rocked him, I cried, he nursed, he rolled in his crib like a fish out of water, bumping his head on the rails and crying even harder. Rinse and repeat. I think I fell out of the rocking chair.

So now what? One of the toughest things about motherhood, for me at least, is that I never really know why anything is happening. Babies are a multiple choice test with no answer key:

Why won’t Monkey sleep?
a) he’s teething
b) he’s caught his brother’s cold
c) the seam of his sleeper is making him itchy
d) his room is too cold
e) his blankets are too warm
f) he’s growing and he needs to eat
g) he’s become accustomed to nursing in the night and waking is a bad habit
h) his mother did something awful in a past life and is being punished
i) all of the above
j) some unknown combination of some of the above
k) because babies be babies

To comfort myself, I summon all of the truisms and age-old advice my sleep-deprived brain can remember: This too shall pass. Babyhood is such a short time in the grand scheme of things. I’ll miss the midnight cuddles when they’re gone. He won’t be waking up in the night when he’s 20 (though this won’t be my problem anyway).

And so continues my long-standing and deeply gratifying love affair with coffee.

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Monkey missed the memo


MEMORANDUM

ATTN: Babies

RE: Sleep

It is come to our attention that some of you may be mistaken about sleep. Specifically, how much of it you are supposed to do, and when. Please be advised: babies are to sleep more as they get older, not less.

Thank you.


When Monkey was around three months old, he slept through the night for ten glorious nights in a row. I was refreshed. I was happy. I was that mum, the one who showers and blow-dries her hair and has endless patience and makes homemade salad dressing. “How’s Monkey sleeping?” other mums would ask, and I would say “Oh, actually pretty well now, thank you,” never daring to mention that “pretty well” was code for 8-10 hours straight(!!!) for fear that a) the other mums would hate me and b) the universe would punish me.

And then it ended.

Despite my efforts to appease the cruel universe and keep my good fortune under wraps, Monkey started waking up at night again. He has his ups and downs, usually waking to nurse twice per night. But recently it’s been out of control.

Last night, he woke up approximately 18 times. I say approximate, because by 4:00 a.m. I was delirious. He nursed, he cried, I rocked him, I cried, he nursed, he rolled in his crib like a fish out of water, bumping his head on the rails and crying even harder. Rinse and repeat. I think I fell out of the rocking chair.

So now what? One of the toughest things about motherhood, for me at least, is that I never really know why anything is happening. Babies are a multiple choice test with no answer key:

Why won’t Monkey sleep?
a) he’s teething
b) he’s caught his brother’s cold
c) the seam of his sleeper is making him itchy
d) his room is too cold
e) his blankets are too warm
f) he’s growing and he needs to eat
g) he’s become accustomed to nursing in the night and waking is a bad habit
h) his mother did something awful in a past life and is being punished
i) all of the above
j) some unknown combination of some of the above
k) because babies be babies

To comfort myself, I summon all of the truisms and age-old advice my sleep-deprived brain can remember: This too shall pass. Babyhood is such a short time in the grand scheme of things. I’ll miss the midnight cuddles when they’re gone. He won’t be waking up in the night when he’s 20 (though this won’t be my problem anyway).

And so continues my long-standing and deeply gratifying love affair with coffee.

Toddler stall tactic #137: the make-sures

The typical toddler’s reluctance to go to bed has been well documented. Bed-time stalling tactics are plentiful: I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, where’s my stuffy, I have an itch, I need the other blanket. My toddler is a creature of routine, and in his routine there are ample opportunities for new and creative stalling tactics each and every night. Here’s a run-down of our current (and overly excessive) routine:

  1. Vitamins and clean-up, in which gummy vitamins are used pretty much as a bribe for cleaning up the toys strewn all over the living room. This starts off the bed-time routine with a bang. Races, games, songs and much cajoling ensue, with Mummy and Daddy often doing much of the actual cleaning up.
  2. Choose the bed-time stories, in which Bean usually goes straight for the handful of stories that I really dislike reading. Authors of I Spy and At the Construction Site, you can bite me.
  3. Bath, which is preceded by for the love of Pete, just come here so I can take off your clothes and diaper and please don’t shout in the hallway because your brother is sleeping. Enough said. Bath time typically involves some kind of battle over how to get the hair wet, keep the tug boat in the tub, yes I know the wash cloth is your fish but I need it to, you know, wash you.
  4. Put on jammies, the step in which please, please let the robot jammies be clean. Also, the bath towel will be used as a fishing line and dangled off the change table and there’s nothing I can do about it.
  5. Brush teeth. Ugh. This is a whole blog post on its own.
  6. Read stories, which happens on Mummy’s and Daddy’s bed. This is my favourite part of the routine and usually goes smoothly… as long as you let the crane engine (Bean’s leg) pick up each book and hand it to his parent of choice.
  7. Get in bed and sing songs. There are Mummy songs and Daddy songs, and Mummy shall not sing Daddy songs. Daddy does not know the words to Mummy songs. All of the words to all of the songs must be sung. Unless Bean is not in the mood, and then he will cut the song off with a “No more song. You go now. Good night.”
  8. Mummy and/or Daddy get the heck out of Bean’s room

The final stalling tactic every night is something we like to call the make-sures. Just as I’m slipping away toward the door, when the songs have been sung, the stuffies are all in place, the itchy arm has been scratched, and the blanket is covering both feet (very important), the make-sures begin.

“Mummy, make sure after I go to bed after I wake up and it’s morning time we go play with Alex and we go to Cooper’s house and we play with Cooper’s really cool trucks and make sure when it’s morning time we play trucks in my play-dough and make sure we do something really cool.”

“Okay sweetie. Now it’s time to — ”

“And make sure when I wake up and it’s morning time we have breakfast and I eat my yogurt and we go pet the cat and I go ride on a train and we see my cousins.”

“Sure we can. Now good night, love.”

“And Mummy, make sure you play with me tomorrow.”

“Okay Bean. I love you, sweet dreams, good night.”

“Sweet dreams Mummy.”

The make-sures are like a toddler’s to-do list. Yes, they are a stalling tactic. My chatty guy knows it’s bed-time and I’m leaving the room, and he’s trying to cram in the last few words of the day. But don’t we all have our own version of the make-sures? It’s just that grown-up make-sures aren’t quite so fun. Mine go something like this:

Make sure I remember to add milk and bananas to the grocery list in the morning. Make sure I respond to that email about Thanksgiving dinner. Monkey’s pants are getting short; make sure I dig through the clothes bins for the next size up. Make sure I remember to pay the daycare fees by the end of the week. We’re out of shampoo; make sure I get to the drug store tomorrow. And so on. Sounds pretty boring, right?

Maybe I should add a few more make-sures more like my toddlers: make sure I run tomorrow. Make sure I laugh. Make sure I talk to a friend. Make sure I hold my boys and my husband tight. Make sure I play.

What are your kids’ bed-time stalls? What are your make-sures?