Tag Archives: sleep

Sleep, the Eternal Mystery

Today, my son woke up at 7:20. Compared to his normal 5:30 to 6:00 and early times of 4:30, this was paradise. We keep hoping that the later times are an indication of a new pattern, but that is just wishful thinking. It is just a mystery with so many variables that Sherlock Holmes himself would have a hard time figuring it out. It is just nice when we get a reprieve like this morning.

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Of Plans and Naps

Sunday’s trip to Somerville Open Studios and Monday’s bike lessons were both great plans. My daughter was so excited to do both, but my son, evidently, was not. He slept and slept and slept. His three to four hour naps meant that the bigger plans had to be scrapped in favor of little things around the house or neighborhood. I imagine that he is working something out developmentally. He has been walking far more to the day’s activities, as well, so it might be just processing this change both physically and mentally.

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Dreams and Screams

Six days a week, I get up with my children when they get up. My son is the early riser, and he usually asserts his wakefulness on the rest of us between 5:30 and 6:00. We tried for a while to have him go until 7:00, but his screaming and kicking the wall just didn’t fade, so I go into the kids’ room, get him out of bed and offer my daughter the choice to catch a bit more sleep or to come downstairs with us. Usually she chooses to come downstairs. Depending on the day I either sink into punctuated oblivion on the couch or gear up to get out the door for work.

Saturday is the one day that I don’t get up with the kids. My wife, who is not a morning person, gets up with them after I let her know they are awake. She then gets them downstairs and lets me have the morning off. Often, I am not able to get back to sleep, but the break from being on in the morning is welcome. This Saturday, I drifted between crazy daydreams and children screams. My daughter was over-excited because her birthday celebration was happening, and both kids were wound up with my mom’s visit and departure and my father-in-law’s visit. Both were showing their excitement quite clearly and loudly. I need to find a better use of that time than pretending to sleep.

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If You Can’t Beat Them…

…Have them join you. We have tried to establish a 7:00 start to the day with our kids. My daughter will sleep until 7:00 or later some days if given a chance, but our human-powered alarm clock won’t let her or anyone else in the house sleep that late. He has been more and more insistent about getting attention as early as 5:30 in the morning. This starts with the dropping of the pacifier on the wood floor, escalates through talking and singing, and reaches a sustained apogee with screaming and kicking the wall. I tried, a while ago, to move his bed away from the wall, but that resulted in him falling out. Finally, I decided to get up with him on Thursday morning to at least give my wife and daughter a chance to sleep in. Of course he chose to get up on the earliest side of his range, so I was groggily trying to change him, feed him, and recline on the sofa while he tried to engage me in games at 5:30 in the morning. I will do this again, but I also moved his bed away from the wall again. We’ll see how this goes on a morning when I am actually trying to get myself out the door.

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Night’s Excitement

My family has a deep history of making the night exciting. My mom would emit the most eerie ghost sounds that were the result of screaming in her nightmares. Needless to say, it scared the bejeebers out of us kids. One memorable night, my mom and at least one of my sisters were in the hallway outside all of our bedrooms all screaming having terrified each other. My mom also would wake with a start and voice her fears. One camping trip, this led to a major part of the campground being woken up to, “Jim (my dad), there’s someone outside our tent,” uttered in a voice of pure fear and anguish.

My dad’s contribution to the family excitement is the clear and decisive pronouncement of gibberish. The words make sense. They are sentences, but they don’t hold up to the light of day. What it does is leave the poor recipient of these pearls of wisdom to stay up wondering what they meant.

One of my sisters has inherited my mom’s fear reaction, and on a trip to San Diego ended up shutting me in a room that she thought had a vicious animal. Whether it was the bear or dog that we joke about after the fact, the event itself was clear proof that these traits can be inherited.

I seem to have gotten my dad’s gift. To a former girlfriend, I once pronounce, “You are worth a million burning bushes,” and promptly fell back asleep. When confronted with this in the morning, I had no recollection nor idea what it meant.

In the midst of both of my children having nightmares on Saturday night, my daughter awoke at one point and exclaimed, “Why is there no pencil sharpener in this room?” Ah, good to know the family talents are being kept alive.

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Yellow Means Sleep

Sunday started at 5:00 in the morning. My son has taken to waking up then regardless of how dark it is outside or how asleep the rest of the house is. He is convinced it is time to get up. I pulled him from the room before he could wake my daughter and put her in a grumpy mood for the day. We quietly went downstairs where I gave him some milk and cereal and pondered a day starting at 5:00. I just wasn’t ready for that, so I made him a “bed” on the carpet. I put a blanket and pillow down and asked him to lie down. He did, and I put another blanket over him while telling him that the clock had not yet turned green. We have a clock in the kids’ room that turns green at 7:00, our hoped for wake up time. It was still yellow, so I told my son yellow means sleep some more. He did not sleep, but he did get into the idea of resting. He rested in the makeshift bed, he rested on the armchair, he rested his head on my legs, he rested all over the place. I think this is a step in the right direction.

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Saving the Day, not Daylight Savings

In these northern latitudes, going off daylight savings means that at this time of year the sun sets around 4:30 and will get earlier for a while yet. By December 20th, sunset will happen at 4:14. I spent a little time on Time and Date to see the data in chart form. Right now we lose about a minute and a half of daylight each day.

Somehow these numbers do not illuminate the tipping point where it just feels way too dark too early. That happened for me on Saturday. I was returning from moving out the old bookshelves from our major rearrangement and refurnishing of offices and playrooms, and it was dark in a way that made me feel like it was 8:00 PM.

So how do we make our kids feel like it is late afternoon rather than time to crash? On Saturday, we invited some friends over for dinner and ordered out pizza. One and a half crazy hours later, we were ready for bed, and it was a reasonable time to be putting the kids down. The day was saved.

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What Bath?

This week I have two full days of solo parenting and one evening. Writing this on Wednesday evening, I again did not bathe the kids. I hope that on Thursday, I have a day that sees warm water and kids mixing at the end of the day. It does help to keep the routine, but I was just too tired after a full day of work to pull that off. Unfortunately, I did the same thing on Monday. Luckily, my wife who soloed on Tuesday did give them a bath. So, between Tuesday and Thursday, they will not be too stinky.

For now, the monitor is quiet. I think they were as exhausted as me.

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In the Same Room

My children sleep in the same room and have done so for some time now. In the morning, my son wakes up between 6 and 6:30 and begins the day with a fairly low key babbling. This amps up eventually to a clear communication of desire to leave the crib and start the active part of the day. Screams, pacifier tossing, and banging the crib against the wall ensue if we don’t get to him in time.

My daughter sleeps through the earlier stages of this and then tries to calm him down as he winds up. This morning, she started by telling him about her friend the female astronaut who will take them on her rocket ship. When that didn’t hold his attention, she started singing songs.

When she decided that waiting for her color changing clock was not in the cards, my daughter just started yelling, “Mommy,” and my son joined in. With earplugs firmly in, my wife slept through this, so I got up and started the day earlier than I had wanted and grumpier than I should have been.

There are many benefits of the two of them sharing a room, but the amplification of noise in the morning is not one of them.

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Just like all the parent books say…

Your child will shift from two naps to one nap…

blah, blah, blah.

There is nothing smooth or orderly about the shifts in sleep patterns. My son is exhibiting the symptoms of shifting his daytime sleep patterns which means he is completely unpredictable, he is irritable when the world doesn’t comply with what for him seems reasonable, and he plays havoc on anything scheduled or planned. There are days with two naps of two or more hours, there are days of one nap which can start anywhere from 9:00 AM to 3:00PM, and there are a few days of no naps.

I just love how parenting books describe how the transition happens gradually. I am sure that from the perspective of hindsight or from a remote location, this might look like a smooth transition, but from the ground, it is pretty crazy. Oh, and he is now experimenting with screaming for the fun of it. Scream, giggle.

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