I will regret writing this post when it all goes pear shaped tomorrow night. But.
For a while now our settling routine has been getting old. Jman eats at 5ish. Then we walk and walk and walk til dada drives up. On the much anticipated arrival of dada, jman jumps into dada’s car, bips the horn, pops up the headlights, puts on the hazard lights, turns on the wipers, turns up the stereo to ear bleeding volume, turns on the indicators, then demands another walk.
During this walk we must visit each dog in the street, call out to the fluffy black (and reportedly vicious antisocial) cat three doors down , occasionally head to the water and wave to a ferry, look at the owls, comment on every car/boat/bike/ute/truck, and rearrange the contents of several letter boxes in the block.
Usually I sneak inside to finish getting dinner. It’s on like donkey kong and we eat at Disney o’clock, all over by 6:30. Jman has second dinner. Then it’s the traditional Mexican standoff to see who can sit and avoid bathing the longest.
Eventually, too late, jman gets bathed and dressed, and occasionally someone washes up. Then jman gets mental and screams around the house like a banshee on acid, stopping only to demand a book which must be read 78 times. The banshee resumes his busy work and Mexican standoff v2.0 commences, the “who will be the bad guy, take their eyes of the tv show and say it’s time for bed” competition. It’s very competitive.
Usually, I lose and utter the immortal phrase handed down from generation to generation: “it’s time for bed”. Usually, to equalise the bad guy points, hub-in-boots then does the catch and release. Jman wails like his throat has been cut, pokes his fingers up hub-in-boots’ nose, tries to fluff his hair, examines the contents of his ears, bites, then finally falls alseep. At which point he’s put in his cot. This used to be in a sleeping bag but now he’s free range.
If I have to do the catch and release, my shoulders start screaming after ten minutes of twelve plus kilos, and jman, sensing the chink in the armour, fights harder not to go to sleep, and sometimes wins a short reprieve from settling. And I can’t continue to do this. The screaming just before bed from an otherwise very settled child also really gives me the irrits.
So. After tossing around a few ideas with my mums group, I broke out the big guns on Thursday night. Me, the ipad, and the floor beside the cot. You go girl.
When I sat back and reflected on the evening “routine”, (and I use the term loosely, much like the routine), the problem is threefold. One, bathing is generally daddy time, so I am not present. Two settling is usually daddy’s job, as he is stronger and it’s a hangover from the days of “don’t get settled by someone that smells like dinner.” This means there’s very little mummy connection post dinner. And three: jman’s little body just will not stop. He can be exhausted, but his limbs won’t stop moving. He just can’t switch off (says the girl typing a blog post at 11:20 at night…).
So. A change in routine would require more mummy connection. And some way to physically slow him down.
As an aside, I am firmly anti sleep training, and completely anti cry it out at any age. I have read the research, and I do not understand working so hard to build a bond if you then follow a system to break it. It is counterintuitive. I do not condemn anyone for doing it, it is a parent’s choice, but it is not for me.
Anyway, we all know that’s an un-winnable debate.
So, there’s me, there’s a lullaby app, other music, and the ipad. Jman in the cot. Night one we kicked off with a hearty rendition of “this old man” followed by the perennial favourite “twinkle twinkle”. It was surprising how easy it was to get him to lay down, and I only needed to break out the scary mamma voice twice to get him off his feet. The gestures helped with the wind down process, and as he gradually slowed down we switched to some classical music, in fact the tracks jman was born to.
I did a bit of back massaging / leg tickling through the bars of the cot. It was hard yards night one, over an hour. But not one tear was shed, there was no whinging, and no picking up.
Night two, I remembered a few things. Like turn off the food trucks app notifications so the stupid ipad didn’t beep at crucial moments. And put a couple of longer pieces on repeat. And don’t keep singing and gesturing if jman is on the wind down, move on to the classical stuff.
Night two no tears, no whinging, two uses of scary mamma voice, 45 minutes.
Night three we were at grandmas for tea, so the settling was the car trip home.
Night four I’m going for sub 40 and I’m taking a cup of tea In with me.
Two nights in a row, I have got the jman to sleep. Laying down in his cot. No cuddles / holding limbs immobile til my shoulder joints seizes. No cries of protest as dada does his “terminator” settling routine of holding, patting and shushing. Just me, a sing song, and a bit of a back rub. And instead of staring at the tele or Facebook and quietly tensing up at the settling protests, I’m kicking back on the floor having a sing and listening to music.
It is a lovely thing as a parent when you sit back, reflect on a parenting problem, analyse your child’s needs, and find a way around it which not only works for your child, but also for you, and it meets no resistance at all.
No resistance to a new routine, mum’s shoulders saved, followed by 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I believe that’s called a win win win.