Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sleep is Everything

So, I have come to the conclusion that Jacob's wacky weekend was all about sleep. He was a bit more tolerable Sunday after his nap, and yesterday he was downright pleasant. Not that he didn't still have moments, but he IS two, after all. I have to think that getting us both back on a regular schedule meant everything, as not only was he better behaved, but I was far better equipped to deal with the "moments" he did have. He still didn't exactly sleep in yesterday, but it was better than his 6:30am wakeups previously. He pretty much asked to nap at the end of lunch, though he quickly recanted but still fell asleep while I rocked him for a mere five minutes. He napped for a good two hours. I rested a bit but not as well as I should have. Still, his behavior was considerably better. He played nicely and didn't have the mean streak that plagued us previously. Believe me, I didn't miss the random kicks to the shins or the attempted smacks to the head. He still attempted a couple when he was particularly upset, but really, I know it's just a temper thing and we have to help him get past it.

We've long known that Jacob gets loopy when he's tired. Instead of dragging, he tends to get hyper and silly. It was sort of funny when he was younger, but now that he's older and he thinks that misbehaving is funny--seriously, I have NO idea where he got that impression, because we have never made misbehavior a laughing matter--the goofiness manifests itself in some serious nastiness. He'll battle us at bedtime with screams, tantrums and hitting/kicking episodes. It's awful. He doesn't think it's a problem, as he usually laughs through much of it, which makes it that much more maddening on our end. I found myself wondering the other day if we should be applying to Supernanny or something. I at least made the mental note that I should be DVRing it, because when Jacob is bad, I'm getting desperate. I tend to think that this weekend was an extreme example and a bunch of factors combined into the worst possible scenario. He did lots of car sleeping, lots of waking up, odd napping, and whatever else. Plus he was excited to go to Toronto, which no doubt led to more hyper tendencies, and as a whole things were just "off".

In retrospect, I'm not sure what we could have done to avoid it other than stay home. And really, that's not fun for us and it's not particularly enriching for Jacob. We want to give him fun experiences like that. If we never do stuff like that, will he ever learn to regulate himself? I don't know. I do know that kids that travel in the car a lot learn to sleep in the car (no idea if it ever becomes more restful, though), and kids that sleep elsewhere a lot sleep better when they go to other places often, so I certainly don't want to coddle him. Maybe it's just the battle of getting through a couple rough experiences like this so he's better off next time, but I really have no idea. Maybe we're just doomed.

I think I mentioned before that I figured out when I had a baby how important sleep was to my outlook on life. And obviously you know how important it is to your baby, as you live and die by naptimes. Of course, part of that may be a desperate need for downtime as much as it's about knowing your baby needs rest. And sometimes as they get older, just when you think you're getting more flexibility, you realize that some things still aren't up for compromise.

Lately I've been pondering the infant life vs. the toddler life. I've been wondering whether one is easier than the other--sleep deprivation vs. eating battles, inexperience vs. keeping them out of everything, diaper blowouts vs. potty training--but it's all one phase vs. another, which is tough to compare. I still miss that ability to stare at my baby and think he's the most perfect thing in the world...because while Jacob still amazes me to no end, I know all too well that he's not perfect. It's not just behavior stuff...but increasingly it's concerns over what all the behavior stuff means and what the future holds. I miss the blank canvas and the unblemished vision of my sweet boy. But all of it is part of parenthood, so I'm fine with being along for the ride. And I look forward to experiencing it all again someday with a little more perspective and wisdom. Not too often you get to do something so huge the second time around with a little more wisdom under your belt. Too bad it's almost never the same :)

Long story short, it's a little bit of a bummer to realize that we're still chained to naptime and schedules so strongly. We want to do fun things, but we need to be prepared for battles and do whatever we can to keep the deviations from our schedule minimal. Maybe once we're past the terrible twos it'll be easier. Or not. I know deep down that so many other parts of our lives are easier now that Jacob is older, so sticking to a schedule is a small price to pay. And really, what's better than a little extra sleep? Let's hope we can convince ourselves to partake as well.

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