Pregnancy is not kind on the sleep cycle. Neither is a two year old child. So the combination of being pregnant and having a toddler has translated into my averaging about 4.5 hours of sleep a night, as of late.
I’ve heard lots of conventional wisdom about establishing an evening routine as a family, so that everyone can get some much needed rest.
We have tried, I swear.
For your amusement, here’s a glimpse at our current evening rituals and sleep schedule (if you can even call it that):
6:30 pm – feed “la familia.” C and I have tried to make a habit of eating dinner as a family, at the dining room table. Up until recently, we were all eating dinner around our little family room coffee table (a ritual that bled over from our pre-parenthood days), which meant that Em would be up and down, up and down, climbing on the table, and trying to play “catch” with us using various toy-like objects while we ate. C and I would be stuffing bites of food in our mouths while simultaneously feeding Emmy AND entertaining her with hand puppet shows, sticker projects, and circle games. Needless to say, it wasn’t very pleasant.
Not that what we have going nowadays is any better. While dinnertime starts out LOOKING like it may actually be a civilized meal, it quickly (and I mean within seconds) descends into chaos, with Emmy reaching her little legs out from under her high chair, kicking our dining room table, screaming “I ALL DONE! I wanna go POTTY! I wanna BIG GIRL BATH! I wanna ALL DONE! I wanna DUCKIES!”
Peaceful, it is not.
6:50 pm – Potty time! Yes, we know that Emmy is using the potty as an excuse to get down from her highchair (conniving little bugger), but we cannot run the risk (and subsequent guilt complex) of her pooping in her diaper at the dinner table when the potty is located just a few steps away. So we take her to the potty, read her twelve books, and sing “where is thumbkin?” ninety seven times while she poops.
7:15 pm - Give Em a “big girl bath”. I have heard from multiple sources that a bath is one way of establishing a night time routine for a baby/toddler. Em LOVES her bath. I kind of love the bath too, because it keeps our daughter in a relatively confined space for as long as it takes her fingers to turn into little raisins. C and I switch off on who is on bath patrol, while the other one washes the dinner dishes and sneaks shots of hard alcohol (kidding, folks. I’ve had like one beer in the past 7 months. I have, however, often DAYDREAMED about sneaking shots of hard alcohol while doing the dishes).
7:30 pm – Get Em into her pajamas, convincing her that she looks like a princess despite the fact that she is wearing flannel bottoms that are more suitable for an 83 year old man.
7:40 pm – Tell Emmy it is too late to go on her bouncy bounce (trampoline) outside. Tell Emmy it is too late to take out the blocks and build towers. Tell Emmy it is too late to eat a cupcake. Tell Emmy it is too late to start rearranging all of the furniture in our house (all this is done while trying to convince Emmy to eat the dinner she deserted earlier in the evening).
7:50 pm – Watch Emmy’s favorite Youtube music videos. Yes. Our daughter loves Youtube. Try not to judge. She is an avid fan of Mr. Mike, who sings “the itsy bitsy spider” and “baby bumblebee” and THIS
video which seems to feature Hitler as a finger puppet (no, I did NOT search for “Hitler finger puppet” in order to find this gem). I spend most of this time trying to figure out if Mr. Mike is Italian or Jewish.
8:10 pm – Brush Emmy’s teeth (thank god, this is the one simple night ritual we have actually established. Emmy seems to not mind having her teeth brushed, and sometimes actually seems to enjoy it).
8:15 pm – I get Emmy into bed, and sing her three lullabyes while she tries to sneak her hand down my shirt to grab my booby (yes, still, after almost two years, my boobies are a great source of comfort to Emmy… and I am still trying to wean her from her boob-grabbing ways).
8:45 pm – Wonder if my daughter will EVER go to sleep. She has spent the last half hour tossing and turning, talking to her Mickey Mouse dolls, and asking for 18 sips of water. Put my head down on her bed, close my eyes, and doze off for thirteen minutes…
8:58 pm – Wake up to the baby (inside) kicking me in the ribs. Realize Emmy is asleep, and try to sneak out of the room as quietly as possible. Find husband asleep on the couch (or alternatively, playing a video game in which he is supposed to create beautiful pieces of pottery. I’m not even kidding).
9:00 pm – With thirteen minutes of sleep under my belt, I don’t feel sleepy anymore. Also, with the baby inside me having decided that NOW is the right time to practice his routine for So You Think You Can Dance, the prospect of peaceful sleep seems highly unlikely. So I live vicariously through my unpregnant friends on Facebook, and through the crazy ladies on Real Housewives of New York City.
11:00 pm – Baby finally calms down... and restless leg syndrome begins.
11:45 pm – After shaking my legs for 45 minutes, and getting up to pee three times, I am finally able to fall asleep.
1:30 am – Emmy wakes up and cries for mama. I wake up and stumble over to her bed, put her back to sleep. Then I fall asleep on the floor next to her bed, with my head on her mattress.
2:00 am – Emmy wakes up and cries for mama. I take her into bed with me, and we both sleep very soundly for 2.75 hours. Woo hoo!
4:50 am – Emmy wakes up and asks immediately for her Mickey Mouse dolls. I get her Mickey Mouse dolls. Emmy asks for water. I get her water. Emmy asks for a muffin. I tell her it is still nighttime, and too early for a muffin. Emmy cries. I FEEL like crying, but concentrate on getting her to lie down next to me for at least 30 more minutes. Tactics of coercion include: snuggling, singing, and putting Blues Clues on the t.v.
5:45 am – Emmy’s desire for a muffin turns into desperation. There is no denying her a muffin. “Give me muffin or give me death!” she cries. She MUST have a muffin. And the day must begin.
So all this, my dear friends, is just a way of explaining why, when you see me in public, and I don’t seem to know my name, and I have a toothbrush sticking out of my hair, and I can’t seem to find my car even though it is right in front of my face, there is a reason.
Parenting with imagination. Or at least trying.