Thursday, December 10, 2009

the boring mechanics of sleep

I've always been quite particular about getting Eliza sleep enough and in routine. Of course, like every other human being, we deviate from the norm sometimes. Still...i do enforce the usual nap & sleep times, which of course Eliza doesn't complain about cos she is tired by then anyway. The problem with sleep is also that Eliza's growing and her sleep needs changes as she grows so we've gotta make adjustments here and there.
I think one of the fears is that her lack of sleep will make everything and everyone else irritable. Of all the 365x2 days we've been though, i have tried and test (in a way), and agree with what many books/experts say about lack of sleep.

"When they become overtired, they have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep, and they get up earlier than if they were put down at an appropriate time." -Jill Spivack

Saturday afternoons are the worst...cos when Eliza's cousins are here and they don't nap, it is quite a challenge to get her to her room to sleep. She'll want to join them, and hearing their shouts and loud voices outside her room doesn't help a bit at all. Somehow kids don't quite have the capacity to control their volumes is it? We always remind the boys but they still shout across the house. So we always end up with Eliza crying and throwing tantrums cos she's not allowed to go out and play. Still she sleeps eventually, after being so exhausted from all that tussle.

Eliza used to eventually fall asleep at 10pm+. (that's after taking 1hr to fall asleep) and yet wake up at 7am. So if i start bedtime later, she falls asleep even later. That also means that i have less 'peaceful' time before my own bedtime. Nowadays, since she has dropped her 2nd nap, she's able to be sent to bedtime at 8pm and fall asleep by 830pm, and most of the time wake up at 7+am the next day. So sleeping early doesn't always equate to waking up early. Really. That was one of my mil's concerns when i set her off to sleep really early. And that's one of the not so logical thing that i've learnt.

Early bedtime also means that i do get less time with her after work. The earliest i can get home is 730am. And like today when i'm home slightly later at 8pm, i'm left with so called 1/2hour to bathe, eat dinner, play with her, get her to drink her milk and supposedly go to the room for bedtime by 830pm. Oh but i missed her so much that i played cooking with her a little more till 9pm. It was more difficult to sleep, compared to her super smooth bedtime the past few days. She wanted to go out, wanted to ask for my mil, wanted daddy...etc requests which i had to deflect and distract. I knew letting her out of the room is a recipe for disaster (ok i'm exaggerating..but it just gets her excited again and result in the nap example i mentioned earlier).

Night wakings
I honestly think that i'm one of the selected mums that has her kid wanting to make contact in the middle of the night, even at 2yrs of age. Eliza on an average wakes up 1.5 times. There are good and bad times. Of course there had been exceptional days when she slept right through, there have also been days when she wakes up and makes a din.

One of the the problems with the nights was her scratching. We've been through this scratch to sleep period which is now a rare occourance, by the grace of God. This really cuts down the time she takes to go to sleep. But she still wakes up at night to scratch, though much lesser already. The key to this was partially, the heat. We turned on the air-con everynight nowadays (except these few days cos our air-con is spoilt). That helped. Though i think she somehow grew out of it and God answered my prayers. She still scratches when she wakes up and takes time to fall back to sleep....but at least it's not as often as before.

The other night wakings was her request for milk. It was an issue before and recently she has been asking for it again. Sometimes i do give her milk cos she has missed her nighttime milk or i felt she didn't eat enough during the day. Else, i would go out and give her water in her milk bottle.
Recently, after a discipline issue that Ww and I had a disagreement on, when Eliza was defiant on keeping her toys, i realized that i forgot all about the "staying put" method which we did use when we were going through the 'night milk wakings' previously. I tried it again with the night wakings for milk; Stayed put and refused to go out to get milk until she was tired of crying and struggling. All the while, i was carrying her and hugging her, occasionally telling her that there's no drinking of milk in the middle of the night. I knew she doesn't want milk and all she wants was to go out of the room, and the only way for her to do so was to ask for milk. Eventually she'll lean her head on my shoulder while i sang and rocked her till she's more calmed down and ready to go back to sleep.
It was a tough 2 nights but we had much better 2 nights after that. I was prepared to do that for a week! but i guess she got the point after 2 nights. Still i'm prepared that she might forget it and we have to do that all over again.

I guess we have to suffer a bit before we can have a break through...else we'll be suffering for life! (ok almost) Ww told me of his friend whose 5yr old daughter still waking up at 5am+ for milk...i don't want to be still doing that when Eliza's 5yrs old! That should keep me on my toes.

I'm learning still, learning to let go, learning when to stay firm, and learning to be consistent.

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