04 July 2009

Parenting Styles

For the first several months of parenthood I was a pretty laid-back mom. Global Baby went with us everywhere and we took him all over the place. Everything went very smoothly until he was about 5 months old. Then it quickly spiraled out of control.

Global Baby required holding and/or movement to sleep. I held him or pushed him in the stroller for every nap. At night I held him all night long. His sleep patterns were all over the place. He was cranky and he cried more as an older baby than he ever did as a newborn. GLH and I got almost no sleep.

By the time he was 7 months old I was barely functioning due to sleep deprivation. Very confused and completely exhausted, I did what I always do when presented with a difficulty. Research and reading.

I found my answer in a book I like to call "Baby Voodoo." It's published title is Sleepeasy Solution. Within 3 days of following the program, Global Baby was sleeping in his own crib, going down for naps and bedtime on a predictable schedule and a much happier baby. Which makes for a much happier Mama. Which also makes for a much happier Daddy.

Within a week he no longer had dark circles under his eyes and there was a nonstop smile on his face. He also had a huge surge in developmental milestones. Although it is just as likely it was coincidence rather than finally getting adequate sleep, I'm not going to experiment with that theory.

I immediately stopped being a Laid-Back Mother and became a Schedule Mother.

My sphere of existence has shrunk. During the week I rarely go further than a 20 minute walking distance from the house. I save our times when we change his schedule slightly to days when we are all together as a family. I am very focused on keeping Global Baby on his schedule, especially with a Maybe Baby #2 potentially coming in October. Otherwise I have no idea how I am going to handle two babies at once.

Fortunately it is all made bearable by the fact that I am also meeting other mothers of similarly aged babies. All within a few minutes walk of me. So I have new social outlets. And I reason it is only for a few years. Once Global Baby and Maybe Baby #2 are old enough to drop their morning naps (generally at 12-18 months old), I can once again go further afield. The older they get, the further my sphere will expand.

The only question has been how we will be able to continue traveling?

Well, obviously for at least a few years we will not do as much traveling as we have done in the past. Neither of us have any issue with that as Global Baby is more than worth a little less freedom to travel at whim.

And when we are traveling I become militant about Global Baby's schedule. Even more so than at home because everything else is different. We are limited in how much we can see, but we still are able to see and do enough. And more importantly, Global Baby's routine is maintained. Which means he remains a happy, smiling baby.

Although after our recent trip to France, it also likely means we will limit our travel to child-friendly places. Italy, for instance, was extremely child-friendly. France? Not so much. (Why is it that in many smaller French towns the only restaurant open before 7 pm is McDonald's? 7 pm is Global Baby's bedtime.)

Pretty sure France will still be there when Global Baby and his potential sibling are a little older...


Expat Traveler said...

Glad you guys are all getting more sleep! And yes I agree, see Paris when they are older.. They are only young for such a short span of life!

Marcy said...

We took Donovan to Avignon when he was 3 months old, and I remember thinking how nice European cities can be for this, since they tend to be more compact, so you can find a place to stay that's fairly central and thus easier to get back to for baby's naps.

One of the things I've found pretty tough is working around Donovan's schedule. I'm not too militant, but ever since he started following a fairly consistent nap routine I've tried to stick to it, which means outings are limited in time span. He's still taking his morning nap (looked like he was gonna drop it a while back, but now is right back on it). I know I'll miss it when it's gone, but it will also be so nice to have much wider windows of time to go places...

Anonymous said...

Paris with a baby can be great, though, because they escort you to the front of all the lines! We were there Easter week a number of years ago with a friend and her 4 month old, and everywhere we went everyone called out "Le Petite, Le Petite!" and pulled us to the front of the line (saved what had to be 4 hours in line at the Louvre). Her mom said it worked when she was 1 1/2 also, but no longer at 3, when everyone stared daggers at them.

I'm a librarian, too! And mom of a 5 year old adopted at 14 months from China, at which time she slept like a log but refused to nap, so I have no practical advice on that score. Every time I thought I had something figured out, she went and changed on me!

Andrea, aka Loud Librarian

Pumpkin said...

We never had much of a schedule. My kids learned to take naps in their strollers or carseats wherever we happened to be. They traveled everywhere with us sometimes for four hours or longer in the car but they just slept most of the time. We would stop every two hours to feed them, change diapers and let them play for at least half an hour. It was our life at the time. I have had three kids in diapers at the same time. Oh, the memories. It is much calmer now and so much easier since that they are bigger.

I have read somewhere that if you keep kids too much on a schedule they have a hard time dealing with not being on a schedule as an adult. I have also read that kids need a schedule in order to rest properly. I don't know if any of that is true or not.

Honestly, I think every family has to find what works for them and for each family that will be different. All solutions that help Mama rest more are good solutions. :)

Jennifer said...

I'm all about the sleep. Rested family = happy family.

Our biggest trip (4 weeks around the western US) was when Small Boy was 18 months so he was down to 1 nap a day. It was much easier then. We did stuff in the mornings and since we were out in the west/national parks we took 90-minute long scenic drives for his afternoon nap.

We also tried to always be in condos/cabins so that we had at least minimal kitchen facilities. We did about one-third going out for dinner, one-third take in, and one-third own cooking and that was good too.

The Boychen also needed motion to nap for a long time. Ah, Fisher Price Aquarium Cradle Swing how I did love you.