Monday, June 22, 2009

Data Collection

Yesterday, as usual, Genevieve napped from 1 to 4 p.m. I woke her up at 4, or she would have slept later. Since Christopher was going out that evening, the girls were well-rested, I had some things to do (I like how basic personal upkeep like SHOWERING currently falls under the non-urgent category of "things to do," don't you?), and bedtime is pretty much a big disaster anyway, I decided to let the girls stay up late. They got into their beds at 9 o'clock. I sat in the hallway, as I do every night now (again), and waited until Genevieve was quiet. She didn't cry, but she likes to fuss and make noise and call my name and make sure I'm still there, and if I left the hallway after 5 or 10 minutes like I once did, she'd cry for sure. So, I sat. It only took half an hour. But that means it was 9:30 p.m. when I was done for the day, at which point I went to bed.

Some people have suggested I perhaps shorten or eliminate Genevieve's naps to see if she then goes to sleep easier at night. Of course, Genevieve has been a bedtime hellion for some 13 months now, no matter how long her nap is or if she has even taken one (she used to skip her nap fairly regularly), but, OK, there is some merit to this line of reasoning. Perhaps if I only let her nap an hour, or refused to let her nap at all, she'd be so tired by evening that she'd conk out in her crib at 7 p.m., grateful to be there. But because the thought of having no naptime each day during which to catch a break from all-day childcare makes me want to lie down and cry, I decided to practice denial, avoidance, and procrastination, and instead make up a little chart for recording Genevieve's sleep pattern for the next week. I'm going to write down what time she wakes up each day, how long her nap is, what time she goes to bed and what time she actually falls asleep (is quiet), and what her mood is like. I'm hoping to be able to get a better handle on how many hours of sleep she actually gets in each 24-hour period, and whether it's enough, more than enough, or if there are any obvious patterns (i.e.: shorter nap, earlier to sleep?). Maybe this will make it easier to make some wise decisions about Genevieve and bedtime. (Full disclosure: this was a smart friend's idea.)

Today when I put Genevieve down for her nap, she yawned several times and said, "I tired!", so it's hard to imagine refusing to let her take naps anymore. But I know what you all are going to say: After a few days of being very tired, she'd probably succumb to going to sleep much earlier at night, thus getting enough sleep for herself eventually. It would be easier to consider doing this if Julia didn't still take a solid afternoon nap. If both girls were up, at least I could argue to myself that now we could plan all sorts of non-schedule-dependent afternoon outings and activities--the zoo, the pool? But no. It would just be Genevieve and me, sitting downstairs playing with toys. I know there are worse things. I do.

In other news, I am absolutely agonizing about whether to send Genevieve to nursery school in the fall. She says she's going, she talks about it as a done deal, but whenever I see her next to the little buddies who would share her class, she looks like a true baby/toddler next to their little-kid-ness. She's shorter and smaller than everyone. She's still got those round baby cheeks and curvy baby eyelashes. She says "wib" for crib and "waffer" for cracker--and a whole lot of other baby words no one else is going to be able to understand. She still wears some clothes that are size 24 months/2T. She still plays with Peek-A-Blocks and busy-boxes. (Another full disclosure: she also wears 3T, and she can do puzzles for five-year-olds.) More than all that, she's my baby, and she's not three until the end of the summer. What to do? I want her to have two years of preschool, not one (if she waited to start preschool until she turns 4 and still went to kindergarten as a super-young five-year-old) and not three (if she starts preschool this year but is not ready for kindergarten at newly-five). How can I know what will happen? How can I know what choice to make?

The other day we were driving past the preschool and Genevieve said, "Dat my 'chool!" We talked a little bit about who would be her teacher, what friends would be there. To get her used to the idea, I reminded her, "And remember honey, Mama would bring you there and drop you off. Mamas don't stay for preschool. Mamas go, and come back later." Since Genevieve still refuses to stay alone with the other moms she knows best while I do things like use the bathroom during playdates, I worry about her reaction to this scenario and often talk to her about it. This time Genevieve sighed and said wearily, "I KNOW, Mama." Then she added cheerily, "I not mind!"

But she's still awfully little, and she IS my baby. Surely you moms can understand. In the meantime, I'll be in the hallway, hunched over my paper, making notations on my little chart, attempting to manage my anxieties through hard data. I guess I'm still a social scientist after all.


Mnmom said...

Charting is a great idea. It will give you hard statistics that can show the picture better than exhausted emotions. I used to do that too, so I can at least show myself "See? I'm not crazy! This is really happening as often as I say it is".

Although Julia is a solid napper, Vivi just might not be, and may need to give up those naps. But I remember that agonizing decision - I just NEEDED them to nap, even for an hour. But mine quit at age 3, and the decision was made for me.

Vivi is awfully young - with an August birthday. My sister kept both her sons back a year and never regretted the decision. They were summer babies too. You may send her to preschool but you'll be having a tough decision again when KG time rolls around.

My two cents is to keep her back. But the big problem is "what to do with her then?" She thinks she's going to school. But if you find an alternative, like ECFE, she'll get over it pretty fast.

In about 5 years, you are going to look back and think "Wow, those baby/toddler/preschool years lasted about one week!". The days are long but the years are short.

Anonymous said...

My vote would be for a one-hour nap for Genevieve, no matter what type of nap Julia takes. I have started limiting my three-year-old (b'day in early March) to around an hour for her nap, otherwise she is up, cheerful and ready to play, until at least 9:30 p.m. For me, it's worth it to have less of a break in the afternoon and more "me" time in the evenings. My girls are in bed by 7:00-7:30 during the schoolyear, and by 8:00 in the summer. When my older daughter (now 6) stopped napping just after she turned 3.5, we went to an hour of quiet time in her room each afternoon. At 4.5, quiet time became an hour of Clifford and Between the Lions on PBS while resting on the sofa with the living room lights dimmed. The younger one will not do so well with quiet time, I fear. She just won't stay in her room for the hour, and so I think we will move to an hour of quiet play (not bothering Mommy) and/or PBS Kids when she stops the nap totally. We are not big TV watchers, but I decided that the hour of PBS was important to my sanity.

I'm not sure what to tell you about preschool. My younger daughter started last fall at 2.5 (three mornings per week at our church play-based preschool). I teach public school until 11:30 each day, so preschool was also part of our childcare. However, even if I did not need it for childcare, I think I would have sent her anyway. She saw her big sister go to school and she really, really wanted to go, too. As to whether or not she was ready, my daughter was still nursing and still very attached to Mommy when she started preschool. Nevertheless, she took to it like a fish to water, and had an amazing year of learning and playing and forming friendships with her teacher and five little classmates.

When is the public school cut-off for starting school in MN? As a teacher, I am not a big fan of waiting to start kids in K unless there are significant academic or behavioral delays. There is a great article that was in the journal of NAEYC several years ago. If you Google "Delaying Kindergarten Entry" you can find it (The first hit returned, I believe.). It speaks to the long-term benefits and drawbacks of delaying K entry. You have a couple of years before you make that choice, obviously, but I do think it's informative reading from a solid source.

Good luck with the nap/sleep issue. Lack of sleep/free time for the mom is SO.NOT.FUN!

Anon. in Georgia

donna said...

I like the idea of charting and looking for patterns - a nice way to remove the emotions and the fatigue out of your decision on what to do next (or to decide to keep things the same).

As much as I hate waking kids from naps (mine are SO cranky if they don't wake themselves), it really helps with the bedtime. If they nap too long and/or too late, it really throws off bedtime, and often the next day (esp if we need to wake by a certain time). So to me, it's worth it.

I realize that waking her from her nap will not be easy, but one possibility is that she will get used to a shorter nap and start waking herself instead of you having to wake her.

Have you considered moving her to a toddler bed already? Maybe the confinement upsetting to her (esp since J is in a big bed)? We took my kids out of their cribs very early because they didn't like being confined. Yes, this means she will be 'free to roam' and since she and J share a room, that could be an issue...

I have a friends whose kids share a twin bed - the little one wouldn't sleep in his crib. One night, instead of sleeping in his crib, he insisted on sleeping in his brother's bed (his brother said it was okay) and they never had any problems after that. The boys are 5 and 3 now. They started this at least 1.5 years ago.

I'm also not going to try to pretend I know what is best for your daughter or your family, though, so take my comments for what you think it's worth.

Shan said...

I woke G. up after 2 hours instead of 3 today, just to see what happens. (I'm going to experiment with shortening the nap gradually rather than eliminating it; I really do believe most children her age still need at least a small nap.) She was hard to wake up and has been extremely weepy, cranky, and frustrated this afternoon since. :( That's not to say it might not be a good thing over time, though.

Genevieve loves her crib. I really don't think she has any fervent desire for her toddler bed (or negative feelings toward her crib). We are going to move her to the toddler bed this summer, when we get around to it, but I prefer to put it off b/c I KNOW a bedtime-rebellious child like her will escape, come out, etc....and that's ALL I need: another bedtime behavioral issue!!! ;)

Shan said...

Forgot to say to Anon. in GA: thank you so much for your insights! The cut-off in MN is age 5 by Sept. 1st. Genevieve's b-day is 2 weeks before that cut-off.

I have not yet had time to read the link you provided here but am VERY interested in it! It's great to hear perspective from a teacher....thank you!

Mom and Kiddo said...

I know you mentioned she has reflux and that has played a part in her sleeping. Maybe writing down what she eats might help. I only mention it because my friend noticed significant improvements in her child's sleep (and also daytime grumpiness) when she eliminated dairy and artificial colors, even though he didn't have any classic signs of allergies.

Good Luck!