Newsflash: Toddler’s Are Not Exactly Flexible

I really want to raise a well-adjusted, creative, spontaneous, mild-mannered kid.  And up until last week, I thought I was doing a relatively competent job.

But then we went to that birthday party.  And his nap time got a little wonky.

And it turns out, he’s not that happy about it.

And neither am I.

I would have never guessed in a million years that one stupid nap would create a chain reaction of a week’s worth of sleepytime hell for both of us.

This past week, Mac has not exactly been the model of flexibility and mild-manneredness I had delusionally been dreaming about. . .

Don’t get me wrong, he could be a LOT worse.  He’s still pretty pleasant. . .even more so when we are in public.  Gah!  What a little ham!

But last night as I was lying on the nursery floor trying to comfort him back to sleep, feeling really terrible about all the butter I ate at dinner, the fact that I was obviously doing a  poor job instilling in him the flexibility needed to adjust to minor changes. . .

It occurred to me that perhaps what I should be feeling badly about is the fact that I wasn’t an astute enough parent to simply say, “Mac’s at an age where we can’t mess with his nap times and he can’t attend the party.”

Maybe the schedule isn’t such a bad thing?  It’s been working well for us for the better part of his first year.  Maybe he’s just not old enough to be capable of the kind of flexibility shifting a nap time requires?

Given the way our past week has gone, I’d say we’ve proven that theory.

For the first 3 or 4 months of his life, we were really protective of his sleep time.  Not even Grandma was allowed to bother a nap.  But the older he’s become, the more careless we have become.

It shames me to admit, we’ve probably even taken advantage of his typically easy-going nature to suit our own schedules.  We’ve become too cavalier with his routine.  Especially on weekends.  

And it’s not fair to him.

When he’s sleep deprived and grouchy, there’s no way we can fully enjoy being creative or emphasize being well-adjusted.

So for now at least, nap time is the same time every day.  And bed time is the same time every day.

And shame on me for such an oversight.  I have two dogs that have a schedule that is so regimented we can barely deviate from it by a matter of minutes.  And they are DOGS.  They clearly derive comfort from a certain level of predictability.  It helps them be better adjusted. . .and from peeing all over the floor.

Let me be clear, I am not delusional enough to think that dogs are the same as toddlers.  Dogs are not children.   Although, my toddler has definitely peed on the floor.  However, if there’s anything the past week has demonstrated, my toddler seems to appreciate a  consistent routine.  Even on weekends.

As for the flexibility I’m hoping to foster?  Maybe that’s more of a 3-year-old project. . .And let’s all say a little prayer he’s not a demanding type A psycho like his Mommy.

Please excuse the poorly written nature of this post.  You-know-who has been awake since 5:30 this morning!  Yeah.  That’s not going to screw up his afternoon nap. . .

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10 thoughts on “Newsflash: Toddler’s Are Not Exactly Flexible

  1. I completely understand! We have a 6.5 month old whose schedule was thrown for a loop when we went back home (across the country) to visit family when she was just 4 months old. It ruined our routine we had and she slept even worse once we got back. It took me a month to get her back into her routine and taking naps again! I need to just say no to, when it comes to doing something that messes up her nap time.. because then it messes up her bedtime sleep as well! Grr!

    • A MONTH!!! ARGH!! OUR BOOZE BUDGET ISN’T BIG ENOUGH TO GET ME THROUGH A MONTH OF THIS!

      🙂

      When Mac was younger, we could do whatever we wanted – sleep, drive, travel, he was completely docile. Sounds as if you’re little one is even more sensitive.

      I know all my child-less friends are going to mock me relentlessly about “the schedule” but I have to be firm on this one. . .

      The aftermath – as you well know – is beyond anything you dared dream in your worst dreams!

      Thanks for your comment. And thanks for letting me know at least we can get back on track (as Mac naps again at the “wrong” time)

  2. Don’t I know it. I’m sorry to hear that things got messed up. It is so important that they get their sleep and not just for them. When Livi wakes up too early (5:30 O.M.G.), she is not the only one who is a total mess for the rest of the day. Same with naps – I need my break and if she only sleeps for 30 minutes, I am not a happy camper.
    We tried experimenting with her naps, if only to get her to sleep more or fall into a predictable schedule. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The only thing predictable is that she will sleep when she’s ready and for however long she feels like. But I take that over no sleep any day.
    Hang in there, I’m sure Mac will be back to his normal schedule before you know it. 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m hoping today is the day. He was up way early and I made him stay awake (since he was agreeable) until right around his typical nap time. We’ll see.

      I also love a long nap. 30 minutes is NOT enough “break” time for me. I can’t imagine only getting 30 minutes with a baby as spirited as Livi sounds. . .but you’re right, at least it’s something!

  3. You are not alone! We went away for the Easter long weekend and all hell broke loose when we got back. My daughter had been sleeping for 12 hours at night and taking 2 great naps each day. But having her sleep in the car for 4 days, which she doesn’t do well, messed her right up. Everyone always told me to relax about sleep and to stop planning my life around naps. Even my hubs wanted me to relax as it related to going away. And then we had 5+ weeks of her only napping for 20 minutes when we got back, and now he understands why I tell him that her schedule is really important. Now, the 5+ weeks of hell was my fault too – she was adjusting to 1 nap, and I wasn’t helping things by putting her to bed when she was tired or giving her an early bedtime. So shame on me. It didn’t need to last that long.

    Anyway, after going through that, I am not shy in saying no to things anymore. Put it this way – Bubbs and I are not going to a family wedding next month. The hubs is going. We’re not. It’s a 12+ hour journey between getting to the airport early, being in transit, and driving to our destination when we land, AND there’s a 3-hour time difference. No thank you. I’m sure I pissed the bride, but the hubs and I agreed that doing things to disrupt Bubbs is just not fair at this age. But I know people are rolling their eyes at me. 😛

    • People can roll their eyes all they want. Like anything else in life, you have to find balance.

      Bubbs won’t even be able to appreciate the wedding given her age, all she’ll know is she’s uncomfortable and confused.

      I’d say if the wedding was local and you could maybe attend the ceremony with Bubbs, go for it, but 12 hr travel time plus the time difference, is killer.

      The bride can be grumpy. . .If she’s planning to have children, someday she’ll BLEEPING understand! 🙂

  4. P.S. My trick for the days when she wakes up REALLY early is an earlier nap and an early bedtime. Like, a 6:30 bedtime. I used to be scared she would be up EARLIER the next day, but it always worked out that she slept longer and was in better spirits the next day.

    • I also go by the number of hours he’s been awake between naps and bedtimes as well as the amount of stimulation/activity. Sometimes he’s good to go 5 hours if it’s just me and him having a quiet afternoon playing. But if we are with lots of family or friends, he might be played out in 3 hours. The sweet spot for a good night’s rest for him seems to be putting him to sleep about 8:30 or 9. Earlier or later seems to induce an earlier wake up. Bless him, he’s still not “right” and tried to bite me this morning! But he’s having his regularly scheduled nap right now. . .today could be the day! Yipee

  5. Oh. My. Goodness. My baby is 5 months old and her weeks are HELL. She goes to work with me. I work in an extremely noisy environment where her naps are constantly interrupted. If she sleeps more than 30 minutes, its because she’s strapped into her moby with my hand covering her ear while the other is pressed against my chest. This is the arrangement I live with in order to a) keep her breastfeeding as long as possible and b) avoid daycare costs for as long as possible. By Friday afternoons she is a hot mess of sleep deprivation. Friday bedtime is salvation and usually occurs by 6:15 and lasting until the same time the next morning or later. Saturday and Sunday are blissful moments of napping in her bedroom for as long as she needs when she needs it – just as should be. Then Monday comes again and we start all over… I guess what I’m getting at is to not make him miss out on fun things occasionally, but be OH SO greatful for being a SAHM who can let him sleep when he needs to!

    • Erica, thank you for this comment. You have made some very valid points. I definitely need to balance fun times with his need for a relatively consistent routine.

      I’m so sorry your little one (and you too) have such long weeks. I admire you for sticking with the breastfeeding. Even though it seems like HELL (as you mentioned), I’ll bet your daughter is reaping a number of benefits from being with you in the Moby wrap so much. I found Mac was much more calm and willing to sleep on the days I wore him – especially from birth to about 6 months.

      You deserve huge props!

      Thank you so much for your comments. Your perspective is welcome here anytime. . .but ONLY if you don’t need a nap. Sleep first, comment later.

      BIG HUGS and hang in there! There’s little doubt, you are doing an awesome job.

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