The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Friday, January 28, 2005

Slave to the schedule

Evan's been in a horrendous sleep pattern this week. He seems to be starting to drop his second nap (right on time at a year, but nonetheless disconcerting), but he's not 100% ready to completely let it go and neither of us can seem to figure out what his new schedule should look like. The result is continued sleeplessness, increasing crankiness and total hysteria (we both have the first two problems in this list, but the third is all mine).

I am a crazy person where my children's' sleep schedules are concerned. Completely contrary to my relaxed breastfeeding mama ways, I have always made sure that my children adhere to a rigid nap schedule. Our world revolves around their schedules -- we decline all invitations and avoid all activities that might interfere with my kids' ability to sleep in their beds at the exact same times every day. And sleep, they do... better, longer and more cheerfully than any of their friends, I might add. It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation -- I'm unclear whether I dictate sleep because they need it or they sleep because I dictate it, but it really doesn't matter. We're all happiest when we follow the schedule, so who cares whose idea it was in the first place?

I know from experience that it will take a few weeks for Evan to find his new groove and for our household to adjust to the shift. I know that I can't rush him in this process, nor can I completely control it (though I can provide some gentle nudging toward what I know will ultimately work best for him). I know that when the new schedule finally does evolve, it will actually be better for all of us, since we won't then have to work around a morning nap any more. I also know that I am going to be a complete psychotic wreck until this is over.

Part of my problem is lack of sleep, of course. As a result of Evan's disrupted daytime sleep schedule, he's suddenly waking up in the middle of the night again in search of food, companionship or just a good 2 hour cry. I'm never my best when I'm sleep deprived (is anyone?), but the wicked head cold I can't seem to shake is not really helping matters either, and I'm finding myself exhausted, short tempered and likely to jump off the handle if the slightest thing goes other than according to plan. And without our schedule, nothing is going according to plan this week.

The main issue here, though, if I'm being honest (any why blog if I'm not going to be honest?) is just my personality. I like things a certain way. I like to know what to expect and I like neat packages. I hate unexpected surprises and change. Hard to make things go this way with young kids, I grant you. But my best chance of keeping my household, cheerful, under control and running smoothly is the schedule. With my schedule, I am a calm, in control, cheerful, got-it-all-together Mommy. Without it, well, let's just say it's scary to discover how little stands between my Mary Poppins exterior and the demon that rages within.

I've always admired loosey goosey mothers for their ability to just go with the flow. I've long suspected I could never be that way, but my intensely negative reaction to this relatively innocuous developmental stage confirms it for me. I count my lucky stars that my children appear to be wired as rigidly as I am, and that they crave the same routines I do, or we'd never make things work around here. If I had erratic kids, I'm pretty sure I'd be back at work by now, sitting behind some desk creating elaborate schedules for my employees to follow while someone else figured out how to structure my kids' unpredictable days.

I don't feel like I have any right to complain about what's going on in my household right now, given how reliably my kids normally sleep, and I'm trying really hard to temporarily go with the flow as Evan works through this transition, since I know it can't last forever. But I can survive another week or two of this, max.

Do you think it would be inappropriate to give him a deadline?


At 9:55 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

*Part* of this post could be mine, once again. I, too, am horrifically rigid about my kids' naps -- the afternoon ones, at least.

Look for the "Parallel Lives" (not to be so named) blog entry coming soon (I'm drafting it as we speak)


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