Making Healthy Sleep Habits

Yesterday, Eliot hit the five month mark! I can barely believe he’s big enough to roll, scoot, laugh, and get angry if I don’t look at him when he’s trying to get my attention! With all of those adorable milestones, we also noticed that it was time to work on a sleep schedule.

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I very much lean toward the “attachment” in attachment parenting, but I don’t get bent out of shape if I realize that there’s an area that needs to be a little less attachment-y. That isn’t to say that I think this is the only way to parent or that Moms who do it differently are doing it all wrong.

It’s all about the good of the child and the good of the Mama! (Actually, that’s the same philosophy I carried with me into the hospital about un-medicated vs medicated birthing, and had a wonderful experience.) All that being said, I had been letting Eliot sleep whenever he happened to fall asleep and not imposing a schedule on him, with the hope in the research that a lot of babies come up with their own routine when giving them the freedom.

Who knew that my stay-at-home life was so exciting that Eliot didn’t want to sleep? He was way too stimulated and wasn’t getting the amount of sleep in his naptimes that he needed to not be a cranky muffin. Actually, after reading up, I was shocked that he was sleeping so LITTLE compared to what he needs to feel good. So with all of my baby-wearing, co-sleeping, no-crying parenting, I chose to relax a bit about not imposing a schedule, and he’s better for it! (Can we just call this lack of falling in line with ANY method “Common Sense Parenting?” It makes my inability to be organized feel more organized…) Anyway, here’s how our sleeping experiences look now with some scheduling.

Since Daniel has had to be at school so late to teach, we have previously been enjoying the newborn phase of a little awake time late at night. That’s the way that Daniel has gotten to spend some quality time with our little guy. But with the holidays approaching (break time!) and Eliot reaching that age where he needs some consistency, we decided to implement an earlier bedtime. (side benefit: Daniel and I get to spend alone time together again where we can focus on each other 100%!) However, knowing Eliot needed to go to sleep earlier and actually getting him to go to sleep earlier were two entirely different things. The only way I could get him to sleep was to stay in there with him and let him sleep up against me.

After a week of struggling and getting frustrated, I had a revelation… He was waking up in the morning at 10:00 a.m. with me since we were up so late! So rather than adjusting the schedule at night, we first needed to adjust the schedule in the morning! We began getting up at 8:00 am, which required me to *gasp* wake the baby. Eliot was only too happy to wake up though and smiled from the moment he heard me calling his name (and this continues to happen every time).

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Once we started getting up two hours earlier, he was ready for a nap by 10:30 and began sleeping soundly in his co-sleeper (rejoice!) for sixty to ninety minutes as his morning nap!

From that point on, he would wake, eat, play, and repeat every two to three hours and managed to get five hours of naptime in his day! And now, he manages to go to sleep at a reasonable hour at night (once again, in his co-sleeper without me having to stay in there until I’m ready for bed)! 

I find that he is a much happier baby during the day, rarely has any screaming sessions (unless I leave the room, because he’s at the separation anxiety stage), and has a lot more energy during his awake times. The building of a schedule has also made me a much happier person because I’ve been able to have alone time to do things I have a hard time doing while he’s awake. And like a domino effect, I’m a much more patient Mom…

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It’s hard to admit that I need some time alone. My mother’s group has really helped me in that area, though. Moms need other moms… I guess I’m realizing that while my job is at home, I still have a community of “co-workers.” The online Mom community is really wonderful, although I sometimes wish it was a little easier to connect… Does it make me an anti-blog person to say that it has been harder to connect lately than it used to be? I’m so glad to have the Mom friends that I have, though, both in life and online.

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“The Good Ol’ Days”

Do you ever get caught up reminiscing about the past too much? I do. I’m a really nostalgic person, and some of my favorite conversations with people are actually just us remembering experiences together. My husband and I lay in bed at night recalling our first interactions, first dates, our wedding, and our first home a lot of nights. We enjoy the nostalgia (both of us being really sentimental). I also love the inside jokes with long time friends that come when recalling past hangouts, or the laughter about a story from childhood.

But sometimes I think I live a little too much in my nostalgia… It’s the same kind of thing as people who may live a little too much in the virtual world… Just another side of the same coin.

Daniel and I were discussing it last night and realized that the people we know who seem unable to look beyond the past, and just continue to try to live out “the good ol’ days” over and over are not very happy, or very deep people. During that conversation, I realized, I’m in my twenties! I am growing and aging every year, and I don’t want to turn into a bitter old woman who has lost sight of the Reason. A woman incapable of having new adventures, only telling the same stories repeatedly and in search of happiness.

That thought was… sobering. I DO want to have NEW adventures. I want to stop living in the past, no matter how great it was. There’s a time to recall the romance of the firsts (like on our upcoming anniversary) and there are times to reminisce about the silliness of youth. But those should be “moments” to share and have that are the exception, not the rule.

I want to meet my people where they are at… not ask them to continue being something they were a decade ago. People evolve, and I don’t want to enslave anyone into being something that they used to be, just like I don’t want to enslave myself by living too much in the past. I don’t want to recreate the past.

Sure, the past was great. I’ll never forget the way my heart dropped into my stomach when the guy I was secretly crushing on for three years confessed his growing love for me. It makes me blush, even all these years later, but that was then. There’s a time for budding romance, and it’s not that the past (where that belonged) was better. It was just different. All parts of life have good and bad, and in hindsight, do we ever really focus on the bad?

But in the present, it’s easy to focus on the bad, because uncertainty plays a role. Looking back, everything is certain. The uncertainty in wondering if Daniel and I would get married doesn’t come to mind when I think of our romance. Only the certainty of our wedding day, and the certainty of being cherished. In the here and now, there’s more than enough uncertainty about life to send me running back to the safety and comfort of my favorite moments in the past.

Fear of discomfort seems to be the reason I and a bunch of others feel the need to relive the glory days. Why chance it when the past is a sure thing? Well, because people grow, and what once was great may have become a box we don’t fit into anymore. And oftentimes, if we do still fit in that box, that does not mean we SHOULD.

We need to be continuously evolving and growing, because there is no arrival. We are thinking really dangerously if we start to believe that we have arrived. We are a work in progress on this earth.

Maybe all of that is why it was sobering for me to realize that I’ve been living too much in the past. Isn’t that just another form of thought that I’ve arrived? What was then is what life is all about, and I’m finished. There’s so much wrong with that way of thinking that I can’t even put it all into words!

I think I also need to remember that adventures and stories are a wonderful part of the journey,  but they aren’t the point! Nobody sets out to “have an adventure” without a destination in mind. At least, nobody who ends up having a good adventure… The destination, to me, is Christ. The journey is to get to Him, and the the adventures are what happen on the way there.

Thinking on the past too much has allowed me to focus on the adventure part, which is just not the point. I do not want to become the kind of person who relives the same adventures for the sake of the adventure. I want to be the kind of person who has NEW ADVENTURES for the sake of the journey to Jesus. I want my focus to be on the meaning of life, and not on the benefits of life.

So no more hashing out “the good ol’ days” for me. I’ll save that sweet nostalgia for intimate moments when it’s appropriate, and I’m going to start keeping track of how many times per day I start to dwell on the past, or how many times in conversation I say, “remember when.”

The past is a gift I’ve been given. A sweet slice of pie to savor after a hearty dinner. But I still have to eat that hearty dinner, vegetables included, and occasionally, I’ll savor that dessert.

From now on, the only thing I want to “remember” daily is reason for it all. The destination. The Kingdom of Heaven. And I do hope I have some new adventures on the way.

Dear Mothers with Patience

dearmothersRecently, I’ve been noticing you. No, not your squawking infant, wiggling toddler, and/or loud band of ragamuffins… Sure, I notice them, but I see you.

I see the patience you have for your little ones. I see the battle you fight with yourself to maintain peace and love when times are trying. I see that you do sag under the weight of the withering stares and condescending whispers of those that would ask too much. Just because you have patience does not mean you’re heartless with no feelings.

Your job isn’t easy, and I’ve recently discovered just how hard it can be. I know you fight hard to stay positive, and how you try to stand against the pressures from those around you. I know you are not unaffected by the negativity, and I know sometimes you’d rather not go anywhere you might possibly offend someone.

I understand that sometimes the anxiety of a loud baby discovering the world doesn’t feel worth the hate you might experience from those who don’t get it, and that you might rather stay home. I know that if you could wish a perfect world into existence, one where there isn’t an embarrassingly loud diaper blowout mid prayer, and one where you can simply feed your child without the arching back, squeals of frustration, and thrashing around, you would. I know all of this, because I’m five months in, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon.

I see that when you are facing forward, stoically, and your child is dancing in your lap, pulling your hair down, and laughing at the people behind you during Mass, that you’re doing your best to be the best mother you can be…and sometimes that means letting it go and focusing on the words of Jesus being spoken.

When your child is putting all her fingerprints on the windows of a house that isn’t yours, when your child comes and begins pulling out all of the contents of my diaper bag and handing them to me, or when your child eyes the bottle containing the last few drops of pumped milk that isn’t his, I see you struggle to ever desire another outing among the public again.  But from one mom to another, you are wonderful. Please stay.

If that diaper bag is mine, I don’t care. If that bottle is my baby’s, let’s laugh together. If those windows belong to me, window cleaner abides. What stands out to me is not the chaos. It’s how you respond to the chaos when I know what you’re feeling. I have the utmost respect for you no matter how crazy your crew might get, and when you gently encourage and guide your little one in those times, you encourage and guide me too!

When you let your little one make some noise without shushing them during conversation, you might not know it, but another mom is breathing a sigh of relief. When you sit patiently in Mass with a few beside you that have the wiggles, another mom quietly slips behind you and wishes she could whisper to you, “thanks for being here today.”

Your ceaseless patience, and perseverance during tiresome moments does not go unnoticed. You are a picture of Christ with His limitless patience and love for humanity. Perhaps the things that get said are the negative comments, and perhaps you’re feeling worn thin from them. But even if there are a dozen condescending strangers, there may be another stranger who needs you to keep being you.

Keep coming out with your gaggle of loud chickadees. Keep soaking in his Word in Mass. Keep shepherding with gentility, humor, and love, for this is your ministry.

Sincerely,

A Mom who sees you, and needs you

 

A Chapter in the Life (Ch. 18)

Family News

It’s been too long… Every time I open the laptop, Eliot wakes. I’ve tried to sit down to blog so many times, but you know, motherhood waits for no mother… Here’s a few jumbled thoughts about life lately and a few pictures of my little baby dragon.

image (11)This little guy is almost five months! It feels surreal how fast the time has flown. He is the most cuddly of all the babies, hates to be put down, and his laugh makes my life so much better.

We’ve had some fun driving trips lately. One involved an overnight stay in Athens, TX because of severe road flooding… We sat on the freeway in a traffic standstill for several hours as rain came and went and we tried to figure out why no one was going anywhere. After three hours, we finally figured out that the road was flooded 23 miles down the road, and we waited for someone to reroute us off the freeway. It was a little scary, but it afforded us some quality talking time which seems to be very scarce these days! We aborted our traveling plans and managed to get one of four rooms at a hotel 20 miles from where we were so we could rest and let the rain pass before heading home. Thank goodness for family. My siblings pulled through for me and helped us get that room! And it really wasn’t so bad with a baby. He mostly slept in the car and also let me earn pro status in the diaper changing skill set. Tiny car + infant that’s too long to lay out on a seat + major blowout (and I’m not talking about tires). image (12)

We’ve been enjoying our trips and some dinner dates with friends lately, and I spend a lot of time dealing with the mundane things of life that must be done whilst hanging out with this kiddo. He sported this shirt to support his grandpa on his annual work hunting trip.

I think most bloggers know how it is, post baby. You nest up and soak it in while the growth is spurting, but there’s not a ton to really talk about. I’m still settling in as stay at home, and trying to figure out my daily schedule with Eliot. I do have time for regular life, but with my personality type, I get incredibly anxious if I don’t know what to expect and I end up doing very little because of that. I’m doing a lot of baby led life right now, which is a growing experience for me too! I really love attachment style parenting, but the lack of schedule of any kind is a little difficult. A trial of love though, I guess. image (13)

But because this is my first baby, I’m letting myself enjoy the lack of schedule. There will be more than enough scheduling of my life later, and right now, I just love seeing this on a random Monday morning when spontaneity occurs.

Maybe when there’s a little more scheduling, I’ll be able to get back to posting more than a few words about lack of scheduling.