Bedtime: A shift in attitude

I’m a big fan of an early bedtime. Me, and the girls if I’m honest. Since they don’t nap and don’t sleep later than 6:30-7:00am they need to go to bed early to get their 12 hours.

Over the winter they were asleep by 6:30pm. It was dark before 5pm and they were begging to go to bed. Barely keeping their eyes open over dinner. This was fantastic as I got an hour plus to myself before Alex got home. You know an hour to myself to tidy the kitchen and pick up toys.

Now that we are transitioning into spring (ha!) and day light savings has kicked in they want to stay up later. But I really need them asleep by 7:00/7:15pm. They take a while to unwind but not before they’ve bounced in and out of bed. You know the drill.

Today I decided to shift my attitude to the bedtime routine. Normally straight to bed after dinner, and then I wait ’em out. Once asleep I get on with my cleaning and tidying. It’s obvious they need to run off steam so after dinner (which they ate in their pjs, doh!) I told them as much. At first they were confused and then they started running in circles shouting “STEAM. RUN STEAM!”. Given how quickly things can turn on a dime with them when they are tired I kept a close eye. (Last week Nomi ended up fainting after pre-bed chase.)

As I got on with cleaning up after dinner and then straightening up the living room they quietened down to playing with cardboard tubes which switched from being rockets to trains to rolling pins to goggles.

By 6:30pm all my chores were done, and we could start actual bedtime (teeth, potty (optional), story & “lights” out). They were asleep by 7:15pm and whilst they took time to unwind there was no joking out of bed, and I dozed.

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This felt more relaxing or as relaxing small children get. Hoping that once we can spend more time outside they’ll be quicker to unwind.

Toddler beds for tiddlers

Everything is going well with the toddler beds though to be honest we set the bar pretty low. We have one toddler bed on either side of our bed, and the girls go to sleep in their own bed but are free to roll or crawl into ours during the night. This arrangement is working well for us all. Alex and I get to actually sleep next to each other in the middle of the bed, and there’s enough space in our sea of beds for all four of us.

We’ve had a few nights when Naomi stayed in her bed through the night, and one night were both girls slept through the night in their own beds without waking for milk. Amazing. So tonight it’s no more bottles when they wake in the night because they don’t need them. They are now both eating really well during the day, and are settled into our new environment. If they wake tonight they get water. Trying to stay positive that it won’t be awful but there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and shouts for “more” but since they are now napping on the sofa and not in the stroller they are more use to get getting back to sleep themselves. Fingers and toes crossed.

The toddler beds cometh

Tomorrow the good folks from IKEA will deliver two toddler beds, and the transition from the family bed to their own bed will begin.

We are going to set them up in our room and eventually transition them into their own room with a trail of fairy lights. So today I shall enjoy the last day of a spacious bedroom before it takes on the look of an IKEA showroom.

At 19 months I think (and hope) that the girls are ready for their own sleeping space. Zoey has been pushing me away at bedtime and during the night. She wants to know that we are there but is carving her own space and she sleeps like a whirling dervish. Naomi is still a big snuggler but is also a kicker so she is not the easy bed mate that she once was. So it is time.

I’m also working on getting the girls to nap in bed in the afternoon than in the stroller. It’s getting hot and I think we all need a siesta rather than sweating our arses off outside.

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Four things

We are going through a good spell with Zoey and sleep, and our definition of a ‘good spell’ is subjective. Not having one parent up half the night pacing up and down, and then camping out on the sofa is a good spell. Having Zoey sleep next to me and wake up through out the night to have a bottle and/or a little cry as she re-settles herself is a good spell. I’ve woken up in my own (if crowded) bed for the last +2 weeks BUT prior to that there have been four things that have got me through the last fifteen months.

1. Cashmere

Some people may think that it’s a waste to sleep in a cashmere sweater but they haven’t been up half the night in the middle of winter. Oh no, it is essential to sleep-in (or have close to hand) your coziest and warmest sweater (it obviously doesn’t have to be cashmere) when you have an unpredictable night parenting routine. Not only does it keep you warm but your little one will love snuggling up to it.

During the aftermath of Sandy my mum stopped doing laundry at home in support of our situation, and she started buying me sweaters and fleeces. When she came over she presented me with a neon orange cashmere sweater that she prefixed with “I know it’s not your style but you can wear it at night.” and I have, and we love it.

2. Socks

I never slept in socks before having the Cylonettes but now I can’t go to bed without them. On the few nights I’ve forgotten (or kicked them off in bed) it has sucked when I’ve had to get up and pad through to the kitchen with bare feet. And, even worse when I’ve had to walk Zoey to sleep (or at least calm her down enough so I can sit down) with bare feet because the pacing is endless. We’d never know how long it would take. Some nights I’d get her to sleep on the sofa and lose the blanket to her and my bare feet would be poking out, and I’d be unable to move because SHE WAS FINALLY ASLEEP AND YOU CANNOT MOVE AND RISK WAKING HER!

3. Bacon

I love a good breakfast to set me up for a day of Cylonette wrangling. I’d be sat on the sofa at 3am, wide awake with Zoey sleeping across my lap, and I’d think about the big cup of coffee I’d be having in a few hours, and what to go with it. Pancakes with whipped cream and fruit, waffles, gingerbread muffins, omelets, and the best breakfast of all bacon and egg sandwich. Everything, even sleep deprivation, is better with bacon.

4. Alex

You gotta have a supportive spouse who will pitch in even if they are the one working outside of the home. It doesn’t matter. During the worst spells Alex would take Friday or Saturday shift on the sofa, and would switch with me in the middle of the night if she wasn’t settling. He races to the girls in the evening when they wake before I go to bed. This is a huge help in giving mama so downtime.

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