Category Archives: sleep

My Children’s Parenting Theories

'Mother and Child'  Henry Essenhigh Corke (1883-1919); Autochrome  Collection of National Media Museum

"Bitch, you move and I wake up screaming. Don't you test me."

A lovely encounter with parenting/sleep consultant Natalie Nevares (stay tuned for my full profile on Natalie and her company, Mommywise on Mommy Poppins) in the ever-enchanting Brooklyn Botanic Gardens cherry tree esplanade this afternoon reminded me of how silly it is to worry about the kinds of things I have been worrying about lately — nap schedules and the like.

Her non-dogmatic approach (she believes in something called “not feeling guilty or judging other mothers”…?) was so liberating! And this meeting just couldn’t have come at a better time for me. A few offhand comments from better sleep-trainers than I and a bad sleep week around here had me feeling like a mess. (Cue tape to yesterday, as Alton didn’t nap. Harper: “What’s wrong, Mama?” Me: “Oh, I’m just feeling frustrated because no one is napping around here.” Harper, rubbing my back: “Maybe you could drink some water? Or count to ten?”) But Natalie wisely pointed out that everyone was actually fine and in fact getting sleep and that if the baby wasn’t on a nap schedule, so what? If we did some co-sleeping, and everyone was happy, then so what? If I threw Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child out the window, so what?

Now, I am all for this “whatever works” parenting technique. Unfortunately, my babies seem to come with their own built-in eating and sleeping manifestos, and they are quite dogmatic indeed.

Their parenting beliefs are as follows:

1. Babies will sleep in cribs if you really make a big deal about it, but would prefer not to. Have you ever felt a crib mattress? They are hard as shit. No thanks. Please, bring us into bed and snuggle up. Pillows, blankets, warm bodies, yes please. What’s this called? Co-sleeping? Whatever, yes, we believe in that. Prepare to nurse, lady.

2. This leads to our next major belief: nursing on demand. Is this seriously even a question? Is there seriously any other option? Babies need to be nursed every 2 hours until breast milk can be replaced with bunny crackers. This is a physical need; do not listen to anyone who says otherwise.

3. Strollers are ok if we can sit up and look at interesting things. If you ask us to lie down in strollers we will be forced to express our displeasure at high volumes. For the most part, though, we believe babies should be carried or worn or whatever you want to call it. Pretty much all the time. What’s that? It’s 110 degrees out and we are glued together with sweat? Fine with us. Beco time. Bring it.

I guess they believe in Attachment Parenting Theory? I just hope they’ve done the research and chosen the right one

Nope Time

I know that what I’m about to admit here is sacrilege: I’m ready for Harper to give up her nap.
Oh sure, that 2-hour break in the middle of my 15-hour day is what keeps me from throwing Special Baby Doll against the wall. But getting Harper down for her nap is what causes me to want to throw Special Baby Doll against the wall in the first place.  Lately I’m not even able to enjoy her naps by, you know, blogging, or napping myself, or, more realistically, prepping for the writing class I teach, or cleaning (JUST KIDDING!): it’s more like huddling over a glass of water, staring into space, and rocking back and forth to shake the PTNSD. (Post-traumatic-nap-stress-disorder.)

Today I think I did everything right. We were out of the house early, in the natural scorching Venusian sunlight. She ran around on the playground. She ran in the sprinklers. She completed her 40-minute-a-day swing regimen. We walked to the Y, where she hung out in Childwatch until one of the babysitters scurried over to fetch me, traumatized by the poop-of-a-homeless-alcoholic Harper  had unleashed upon them, not that I could attend to this right away because the room of the Baby Bootcamp class (yes) was sealed shut by the humidity and we were all stuck, which is pretty much the story of my life I guess. After this adventure, she enjoyed some wholesome but not-sugary snacks, and once the baby was asleep in his crib, we sat in her room to read some relaxing literature.

ONE HOUR LATER she was still twisting and turning with goony Dan Rather eyes, valiantly fighting that evil thing called sleep. I mean, I’ve tried everything, I think: the quiet restful morning, the jam-packed activity morning, the stroller nap, cry-it-out, reading-and-singing, hypnosis, fury, barbiturates.  Will somebody please tell me what I’m missing?

Meanwhile, just think what life could be like if she actually didn’t need to nap anymore. Instead of returning home every day at 11:30 to wind down for the daily siege, we could be out and about, perhaps even leaving the borough now and then. I daydream about trips to frosty museums, traveling to Queens for exotic snacks, meeting Daddy for lunch in the city. Unfortunately, when she does skip her nap, by 4 pm she’s a strung-out-looking wilted wisp of herself, prone to tears at the literal drop of a literal hat. So then I feel like a pretty crappy mother. Especially if that happens to have been the day when after one child’s nap refusal involved purposefully interrupting the other child’s nap I actually did throw Special Baby Doll against the wall.

Just kidding, I would never throw Special Baby Doll against the wall.

Just kidding, I would. Um.

Any naptime tips? I have to figure out how to help Alton be a better napper, and he’s about to be 4 months old which is when that sleep guy says you have to start the sleep stuff!  Otherwise just think of what poor Special Baby Doll will look like in a few years.

This is your brain on no nap. (from rubyfloy's etsy shop)