Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Being a Parent Won't Control MY Life

A few years ago, Boss and I went out to dinner with some friends of ours and their two year old daughter. I was newly pregnant with our first daughter, Emma, and was living in raising a child is going to be so easy, I don't see what all the fuss is about land. Remember that land? The one where you had a pre pregnancy figure and your face lacked lines because you actually slept eight consecutive hours a night? Ahh...ignorance sure was bliss. Back to my story.

So, we arrived at our table for dinner, but before our friend's daughter even had a chance to misbehave, the wife whisked her to the back of the restaurant and started pacing with her. I must have given the husband a perplexed look, because he just laughed and said, We now eat in shifts. That way (insert child's name here) stays entertained, and we each get a turn to eat in peace. You just wait and see. Your turn is coming soon. Excuse me? Was he really suggesting that just because Boss and I were about to become parents, that our eating in a restaurant together days were over?

We continued our meal, and when it was over, Boss and I asked our friends if they wanted to get dessert. Just at that moment, the wife must have looked at her watch and realized that it was past their child's bedtime, because I promise you, they were out of that restaurant in two minutes flat with words of, Oh no, now her schedule will be off, and This is going to ruin the rest of the week, ringing loudly behind them. As expecting parents, this couples behavior towards their child was alarming! I am pretty sure Boss and I enjoyed our dessert in peace that night and talked about how we were NEVER going to be like that couple and let our child control our lives. Not us. Becoming parents wouldn't change our lives! I was an on the go, go with the flow type of girl, and schedules and routines really just weren't for me. My life would not change at all. I was sure of it.

Four short (yet incredibly long, all at the very same time) years later, I have found that it is time I eat my words. Yesterday, I bought my very first self help/parenting book. It is called The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, and I am hoping and praying that it has all of the answers that I need, because here is the truth..... I am a parent and Emma and Kate are beginning to control my life. Two little pint sized girls are beginning to send Boss and I over the edge with their sleeping (or lack thereof) habits. It is time for us to regain control.

Here is a sneak peak in to a typical night at our house... (but if I share this, you must promise not to judge too harshly!)

9:00 PM - All of the big girls head to their rooms, and I begin to think about getting my kids to bed. Sometimes, they get a bath in the evening, or sometimes, we just put on jammies and bathe in the morning.

9:30 PM - I put the girls on the couch in front of the Goodnight Show on PBS, and get angry when they constantly get off the couch and are hyper, all the while praying that they will simply fall asleep while watching, so that I don't have to deal with bedtime.

10:00 PM - I put Kate in bed.

10:15 PM - Emma gets in bed with us until she falls asleep, and then I move her to a pallet on the floor beside our bed.

10:15 - 4:00 AM - Emma tries to get back in our bed several times, and I am constantly putting her back on her pallet.

4:30 AM - Kate wakes up for the morning and won't go back to sleep. She eats breakfast, plays, and watches cartoons.

7:00 AM - Kate crashes just as the rest of the house is waking up. Boss and I are grumpy before the day has even begun. And this has been going on for two years now. Seriously.

(Wow, I'm embarrassed to read about how out of control our nights have been!! Who wears the pants in this relationship? Wait, silly question. I think it's quite obvious.)

The time has come for me to develop what I once despised...a routine. I will now be one of those parents who will leave an event early, so that my child can make it home in time for bed.

Here are some things we are going to try:

* I am moving dinner to a set time of five o'clock, so that I have plenty of time to have a peaceful bedtime routine with the girls.

* We will have snack, bathe, get jammies on, brush teeth, read stories, sing songs and pray at the same time, and in the same order, every night. I am eliminating ALL nighttime TV, even from my big girls, so there isn't noise, stimulation, and commotion in the living room.

* Bedtime will be at 8:30 PM. (Did you know the author of this book says that for most young children, their natural bedtime is between 6:30 and 7:30 PM? Are you kidding me? That would be awesome, but we'll try for 8:30.

* I haven't decided if I will walk Emma back to her bed every time she gets out, or let her crawl in with us for now, as long as she starts out in her bed. I may want to tackle Kate's problems of sleeping past 4:30 AM, before moving on to Emma.

* When Kate wakes, we won't let her crash for her morning nap at 7 am. This has been torture for all of us the past three days! We also won't let her eat breakfast right away. She has to wait until the rest of the family is up. Hopefully, her body will begin adjusting to this new schedule, and over the next few months we will begin to see some changes.

So there you have it. We are now on a very strict evening schedule. If you see us out at one of Boss' games and I rush out the door at half time, it is because my children now have a bedtime and I have joined ranks with the parents I found weird only four short years ago. And if your children sleep perfectly, and you knew the wisdom of having a schedule and routine long ago, then I'm not sure I want to hear from you....maybe in a few months when my children are sleeping well, too. Then we can talk.

On a serious note, being a good mom is the most important thing in the world to me and I just want to do a good job. As with everything else in life, I am learning as I go.


Always Almost said...

This made me smile! I love hearing how my crazy Kendra is all grown up and being a mommy. I know I'm still in the realm of which you speak, but if you need an ear about non-sleepers, you may want to give my mom an e-mail. I'm now 25 years old and STILL can't sleep normal hours... even after she spent the first four years of my life driving me in circles around the block (I do however fall asleep after being a passenger in a car for more than five seconds!) I'm praying for you guys - hopefully things will settle down, and you don't have two life-long non-sleepers like me!

Kristin said...

i wish you all the best of luck and am rooting for you. I think we have finally tackled our bed time routine and it only took us almost 5 years- so we are right there with you. We werent' as strict maybe i will do a blog on our routine and maybe it can help. keep us posted- miss you guys

Kristin said...
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The Grigsbys said...

Any suggestions for newborn twins that won't sleep at night? :)

Being a special education teacher taught me that routines save sanity. And while those are extreme cases...I know all children benefit from the familiar and predictable. Good luck! Sounds like a great plan.

Paula said...

That book is awesome. I used it with Hannah and it really worked. I know what you mean about thinking that kids will not change your life. Yes, they do, but for the better.

Ryan and Angie said...

I wish you the best of luck with getting the girls to sleep when and how you want them to. I will try my hardest not to keep you out to late on those rare occasions we actually do go out all together. Love you!