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Upsetting the Routine
August 13, 2012 - Stacey Sacco
For about a week, I thought I was awesome. We were starting to fall into a good routine for our new family structure. Everyone was getting enough sleep and it made all the difference in the world in the way we interacted with each other and handled the normal daily stressors.
There was even this beautiful time when all the stars aligned and Justus’ nap would overlap Anelise’s afternoon nap and they would both be asleep for about 45 minutes. It may not seem like much, but that 45 minutes was amazing. I did some much needed cleaning. I listen to Matthias while he read a book. We played games and I worked on dinner prep.
This short period of time was great for my confidence level in mothering three kids. I was starting to feel comfortable and capable. It felt like we had emerged from the survival stage of living and were functioning as a unit.
Then it all fell apart. And the perpetrator was not who I thought it would be.
If anything, Anelise’s schedule has become more consistent. Three naps a day. In bed by nine. Sleeps about eight hours. What an amazing baby!!
Instead it’s two-year-old Justus, who has always been a good sleeper with a healthy schedule, who has thrown us into flux.
All the trouble starts at nap time. He doesn’t like it anymore. And he’s old enough that he’s learned how to fight it. He normally takes a nap at about one. So I follow our established routine and he refuses to nap. I sit with him, rub his back, sing to him, leave him to fall asleep on his on, and anything else I can think of, but most of the time, he never falls asleep.
All the while, Matthias is downstairs attempting to entertain himself. He frequently comes in wanting to read a book or watch TV or help finding the missing piece of his puzzle. Anelise is waking up and wanting to nurse or tired and wanting to nurse or bored and wanting to nurse… So I’m spending 1-2 hours every afternoon in my futile attempts to get Justus to take a nap at the expense of everyone else in the house, including myself and my sanity. By two, all I can think about is how this schedule will never work next week when Matthias goes back to school and we have to leave the house by three to pick him up.
If he was ready to give up naps, this would be fine with me. But he can’t make it through the rest of the day without some rest. By four, he’s tired. By five, when I’m ready to start dinner, he’s throwing tantrums. By six, when the rest of us are ready to eat, he’s falling asleep in his plate. And God forbid he still be awake at seven. By that point, he’s too tired to fall asleep and I’ll spend another hour or two getting him to sleep that evening. And if I’m super lucky, I’ll get to do it all again at three in the morning. Oh, and he never fails to be awake and dragging my feet to the floor by six.
The consequences don’t end there. If he didn’t get enough sleep one day, the next day he’s cranky and irritable all morning. He can hardly walk in a straight line by noon. He doesn’t eat as well as he normally does. The boys fight more. Justus is more likely to hurt himself (he’s a huge klutz when he’s well-rested).
Maybe he’s getting ready to change or grow or add a new skill, but the sudden change in sleep routine has us all wishing for a few more minutes of shut-eye. It makes me feel like I’m not providing all he needs to fulfill his sleep quota and that I’m ignoring the other two kids when I try to help him fall asleep.
I do believe that sleep habits change as they grow. Sometimes great sleepers have rough patches and poor sleepers will have great weeks. But it’s hard to remember that “this too shall pass” in the midst of frustration and meltdowns.
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Oh, how I miss nap time!