Thursday, March 08, 2007

News Flash: Things Change.

So, Genevieve is now a competent non-nursing-napper. She still cries when I put her down, but usually only for a few moments, just to let me know that she hasn't forgotten the halcyon days of snuggling to sleep with a milky snack every morning and afternoon. And that, in comparison, this just being laid down wide awake with her silky in her fist and my whispers in her ear is the worst idea anyone has ever had.

And then there's what we've recently learned about Julia. If she refuses her nap, her usual 7 p.m. bedtime is fine; it works just like the old days, meaning that she easily goes down and generally falls asleep without a peep, waking up 12 hours later. But if she takes a nap, we now put her to bed between 8 and 8:30, and lo and behold: the endless hours of calling and fussing and whining and protesting are gone. She may still sing and talk for a bit, but it's NOTHING compared to the streak we were on in recent months, which turned bedtime into a relentless campaign for one more tuck-in, one more blanket-straightening, one more drink of water or "friend" in her bed as she agitated her way through the long minutes until she was actually tired enough to fall asleep. Guess what! At almost three years old, 7 p.m. is way too early a bedtime if she's slept for 90 minutes in the afternoon. Lesson learned! Even if the sleep book says that toddlers her age still need 12 hours at night and a two-hour nap each day, even if our preferred sleep expert swears up and down that all children her age need a super-early bedtime--certainly earlier than 8 or 8:30!--well, guess what: THEY'RE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT.

Hallelujah for learning from one's own parenting experience. And: isn't it such a perfect illustration of how, as a parent, you totally forget that things can change on a dime? You get so used to whatever it is--the routine, the phase, the teething or nursing or compulsively rolling over and then getting stuck belly-down--that you lose all perspective sometimes, and miss the obvious, that what worked before just might not work anymore? It's funny how that happens. Funny, and a little unnerving, because I'm used to thinking of myself as a bit more...on the ball, a bit more organized and planful. (Like: "OK, here comes preschooler-hood, get ready for extended bedtimes, extreme bossiness, and willful insistence on picking out her own mittens. Say goodbye to good-natured compliance and needing help to reach the doorknob.")

But who's ever ready for their baby to become a big kid who stays up past sunset and cuts into prime "Friday Night Lights" and "The Office" viewing? Not me.


Heidi said...

Gabe's been going to bed between 8 and 8:30 for at least a year now, maybe more. True, he often takes a 2-3 hr. nap at home (shorter at daycare), but still. He'd NEVER be ready by 7. As for the TV shows, that's what VCRs are for. Then you can watch them when the kids are in bed and skip all the commercials.

Shan said...

It is mind-boggling to me to imagine a 2-3 hour napping child. I can count on one hand how many times Julia has taken a 3-hour nap in her entire life. With 2-hour naps not much more frequent than that.