We all know that Mommy needs her sleep. I’ve discovered that my wee ones need their sleep, too. Not everyone believes me (MOM), but they need far more sleep than you would expect. Can they function on less sleep? Absolutely! Can I walk into a room and immediately tell by their behavior if they’re well-rested or not?
I was at a friend’s house for a meeting the other night. At 9pm, her five year old daughter walked into the room — not in her pjs — to get a kiss from her mom. My friend laughed and played it off “oh we just can’t get them into bed!” Really? At least for me, I’ve found putting them into bed, shutting the door and then walking away seems to work.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been a big believer in sleep since the wee ones were little, it’s easier for me. I have friends who bemoan (how seriously, I can’t tell since they do nothing about it) that their kids can’t fall asleep unless they’re in the parents’ bed and it’s 10:30 or later. I always have to school my face to keep it neutral. Mister Man may occasionally be “awake” at 10:30, but that’s only when he gets up to go potty in the middle of the night, and most of the time I don’t think he’s actually fully awake.
I did once have trouble with Little Miss, though. I’ll readily admit that. I could tell she was tired — she has these lovely little creases that appear under her eyes the second she’s ready for bed — but she was getting up before 5am and had given up her afternoon nap. At 18 months.
Needless to say, this mommy doesn’t function on that little sleep, and it was showing. Someone — and I forget who this blessed person was — gave me the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I read it and was an immediate convert.
Little Miss luckily returned to her two naps a day and long nights of sleep shortly thereafter. To this day — and she turns four on August 1 — she’ll sleep twelve to thirteen hours a night and take up to a three hour nap. Granted, she never stops moving when she’s awake, but she’s a great sleeper.
Even Mister Man will take naps periodically, and he’s also a thirteen hour a night sleeper — or more sometimes. But my mom… oh my mom refuses to believe it. She told Little Miss that she doesn’t need to nap anymore. And so Little Miss doesn’t nap whenever Grandma is around.
My mom also doesn’t believe that they should be to bed by 6:30. Instead — after no nap — they’re up until after 8. And she’s surprised when they wake up before 6am. She insists that means they must not be tired and refuses to believe a word I say. (And yes, this does factor into my desire to stop working. The lack of respect my parents have for my parenting and the amount of time my working means they spend with the wee ones is an issue.)
I picked up the Little Miss on Tuesday at 10am after we’d gotten back from Vegas. My parents had so generously volunteered to watch the wee ones for the four days we were gone. Little Miss almost fell asleep in the car. At 10am. Ditto with Mister Man when I picked him up from summer school at noon. Yikes.
What I’ve learned is that kids need more sleep than you expect them to. If they wake up early, so often it’s because they’re overtired (not always — but in my case, it absolutely is). When they’re well-rested and they stir, they are able to fall back asleep. However, when they’re overtired, the slightest stir means they’re up for good because they’re too tired to sleep. Don’t tell me you haven’t been in the same situation!
My friends look at me askance when I say I have to leave somewhere early or that we can’t make a party because it’s past the wee ones’ bedtime. They can’t believe it, but it works for us. Ironically, a woman from Mister Man’s elementary school called a few weeks ago, and I mentioned that I had time because the wee ones were in bed. She laughed and asked if they were Weissbluth babies. I was surprised that she said that, as Dr. Marc Weissbluth is the author of the aforementioned book. Apparently his devotees are easy to spot.
If only my mom could listen. Then again, my parents are also the ones who refuse to believe that Little Miss has a dairy allergy. It’s only under duress that they keep dairy away from her.
Ironically, the first baby shower I ever went to asked all of us to come with a notecard filled with our best parenting advice. I remember that I wrote “No” is no a four letter word as my advice. It definitely isn’t a bad one, and I stick to that one, as well. If only I’d known then what I know now….
So what is your favorite bit of unsolicited parenting advice?
PS the answers to the pop quiz are up now!