Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Stick to the routine

I made the fundamental parenting error yesterday of trying to change a daily routine that wasn't really broken. I have done this a few times with Duckling, and every time I have ended up regretting it. Yesterday was no exception.

I usually work up in London Tuesday to Thursday, with Friday to Monday being my 'Duckling' days (which frankly, I consider as much work as the office job, even if I do get to share a bit with Drake on the weekend). We have a nice little routine* going on our days at home together: we get up around 7am, have breakfast, have a bit of a play and I do some housework, then we both go back to bed for a co-sleep nap around 9am for an hour or two (trust me, when you've been up four times or more in the night, a nap is necessary), before having some lunch, popping out for an outing, then slotting in another 45 min - 1 hour kip around 3pm (I usually do e-mails / blog while Duckling sleeps next to me). It works well, and provided I don't try to leave the bed, he naps pretty soundly.

On his days at the childminder, Duckling only has one nap, usually after lunch. He's often tired in the evening, but otherwise doesn't seem too bothered by the different nap routine. As he's not at the childminder this week (she's on holiday, so I've taken leave too), I thought it might be an idea to get Duckling to learn to nap in his cot, which he will do for her, but refuses point blank to do for me. As much as I love our snuggly little morning snoozes and respect Duckling's natural sleep preferences, it would be much more convenient if he would fall and stay asleep on his own like he does at night. I can, alas, count on one hand the number of times I've been able to leave him to nap while I get on with things around the house, and sixteen months in, the 'new baby' excuse just doesn't wash anymore.  Literally.

The problem is that Duckling has an astonishing ability to resist sleep. It took me forever to sleep train him at night, in part because he is able to stay awake crying / pulling stuff off his windowsill / rearranging his toys / eating his blankets for ninety minutes or more before sleep overtakes him. In the day, if he doesn't have the precise set up he wants, he just won't go to sleep at all. This is exactly what happened today. I decided to just go with one nap to ensure Duckling was really tired (even though I desperately wanted to go back to bed too), and we pushed on through until just after lunch. It seemed to work - a brief breastfeed was all that was necessary to lull him into the sleep zone, and, to my amazement, I managed to get him into his cot no problem. I had just sneaked away when a delivery man decided to ring the doorbell. Then knock very vigorously. Then ring the doorbell again. As I rushed down the stairs to shut him up, I heard the wailing begin, but REALLY wanted the radiator towel hooks that the idiot delivery man was bringing, so answered the door anyway. After signing for the package and answering his weird, "Can you hear a whistling noise?" query with a terse, "Yes, that's my son crying. You woke him up", I ran back up to Duckling and tried to get him to go back to sleep. Usually, in our normal naptime set up, this'd be easy, but five hours later, he was still awake, no doubt concerned, in his wired state, that I'd sneak him into his cot again if he dropped off (even though he loves his cot at night). I tried every sleep trick in the book bar actually hitting him over the head with the book, but to no avail. By dinner time, Duckling was staggering around like a miniature drunk, destroying everything in his path by either tripping over it, sitting on it, lying down on it or trying to eat it (a tired toddler is apparently a hungry toddler), and I was at my wits' end, having essentially wasted my entire first day of holiday lying on our bed loudly humming lullabies while my son threw bits of jigsaw puzzle behind the headboard and demanded I retrieve them now, this very instant "MUMMY MUMMY MUMMY!"

Moral of the story? Don't attempt a change unless a) it's 100% necessary because your old routine is no longer fit for purpose (a.k.a you're going to go batshit crazy unless you do something different) or b) your child demands it themselves. Routine changes have only ever stuck in our house where one of these two criteria have applied. Also, put a note on the door asking the delivery man to ring your phone if you're going to get radiator hooks delivered during nap time.

* this statement cracks me up, as I distinctly remember saying before having Duckling that I didn't want to be one of those boring parents who lived by their 'routine'. Admittedly my routine is fairly flexible in comparison to some parents', but it still makes me laugh how little I understood!

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