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.
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).
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…
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.