The Boycotting of the Nighttime Siestas: Sleep Regression.
This has all but consumed my husband and I's last three weeks. The combination of healthy growth and natural climbing ability (I, myself, was an early climber) has presented itself to be almost like "the perfect storm." I know that my child is progressing through a healthy growth spurt, but there is also that possibility that with those spurts come shorts seasons of not-so-welcomed changes in our little one's habits.
We have been extremely blessed from the moment we found out we were expecting. Health and activeness followed us from conception to birth to toddlerhood (I mean, at four weeks old our daughter was sleeping through the night... THE ENTIRE NIGHT). Fast forward to the last three weeks and we find ourselves at an unfamiliar impasse, unfamiliar territory. My child recognized that she could climb out of her crib consistently and then interpreted any redirection from my husband or I as a game. A good night's sleep has quickly become a thing of the past. It seems our toughest parenting challenge is upon us.
First, let me just start off by saying, the word "tough" is subjective, and I completely understand there are harder things to focus on at times when it comes to parenting. But this, this sleep regression nonsense, has been my strongest parenting nemesis to date. Oh and I (plus my ever patient husband) will defeat this proverbial beast. My sardonic personality doesn't always lead me towards the most positive of mindsets, so with this I must be intentional, calculated even.
Step 1: Consistency
Every nap time, every bedtime, we will bore my daughter to sleep with monotonous behaviors that lead her directly to Snoozeville. We will cast the faintest light in her room, overwhelm her with the aroma and soothing power of whatever lavender, calming baby bath we can find, and get her body and mind prepared to drift off gently into La La Land. We will pray with her and for her (and us!). We will do this every night (pending, of course, the chance we can coax a dear friend or relative to tend to our little dear so we can have a date night). Our daughter will eventually recognize the slow and steady signals that will point to her getting ready and going to bed for the night. As the weeks have progressed, we (ahem... my husband) have been dedicated to this and have begun to see the bedtime struggles shorten and consistent sleep elongated.
Step 2: See the Glass Half Full
As difficult as it can be to encourage my daughter to sleep when it's dark and quiet outside, imagine, just for a moment, just how well you think it goes when it's super sunny and seems that everyone and their mother is walking their dogs around our apartment during nap time. I know it's nap time cause my daughter gets astronomically more clumsy (she gets her swan-like grace from yours truly), and what I like to call "slap happy." This highly medical term refers to when someone is so tired, they think everything is funny, like hysterically funny. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm known around our apartment and small friend circle as being quite the kidder, but when my daughter gets this way I almost feel bad as it's no where close to my best comedic stuff (not to brag or anything but I can somewhat juggle and make a very select number of balloon animals. So yeah, full disclosure, I did, albeit briefly, aspire to be a clown). In the midst of encouraging my daughter to sleep, sometimes pleading, after two hours of attempts I know I have reached my limit. I then choose to allow her to get up and continue playing, quickly turn my head away and wipe away any tears (never let them see you cry! Haha), and proceed to calmly tell myself "she is going to be so exhausted by seven o'clock." Perspective is everything, so choose a positive one.
Step 3: Clear Schedule, Full Bellies, Can't Lose
Mondays through Thursdays, my little lady and I keep a pretty set schedule. It helps me, personally, remain productive, and most of the time keeps my daughter movin' and a groovin' consistently throughout her day-to-day. Even throughout this last month of sleep regression, which most definitely applies to her midday napping schedule, it has remained a fruitful investment. Despite my daughter refusing and/or just not napping, because of this set schedule, our days are full and it helps set my husband and I up for less of a difficult bedtime. Amidst this schedule, we focus on making well rounded meals (lots of fruit, veggies, and protein) all through the day. We have found that when she goes to bed, how do you say, "fat and sassy," she sleeps hard, and that means a glorious full night's sleep for us baggy-eyed parents.
This past month has proven to be a labor of love. I love, love, love my daughter, and I want to hate, hate, hate this sleep regression. However, it has taught me some truly wonderful lessons as a parent, let alone a parent of a precocious toddler. For as much as I knew before she entered this world and everything I've learned after, I know I desperately love and care for this little girl. My love for her is deep and wide. It feels like a boundless kind of affection you are only capable of realizing when you push, stagger, and grow through new challenges with your child. For her and those learning experiences, I will continue to be grateful for.