One of the hardest things for me about parenthood is the constant change. I like a slow, easy schedule that is both flexible and predictable. My mornings need to be quiet. I need to get all my work done before 3. I need to get dressed early or it will never happen. All of these things are not what parenthood is about, and I constantly struggle with getting my head back in the game.
Things are not working for our family right now. Ben is getting older, and Baby Sister is getting older, and their needs are changing. Ben needs to know what to expect, Baby Sister needs to figure out how to sleep. She used to sleep through the night and now we are up at least once a night 90% of the time. Sometimes the wake ups are just brief, sometimes she screams until we need to take her out of her room, for fear she will wake up Ben. Nobody wants that. Nobody. She won't settle by herself. Sometimes it's just about a pacifier, but regardless, she just escalates.
Ben is acting totally crazy. His age, really. He is fascinated with poop, standing on furniture, putting himself in danger, and deliberately being as defiant as he possibly can to get me to react. I try to stay calm, but I often feel out of control and not sure what to do. After a long day, no sleep all night, the next day starts out awful and before you know it, the end of the week is here and I am furious, screaming, and doing crazy things. I have no plan.
This week was the worst. Both Scott and I have cried together. We are both telling each other we have no reserves left. I had a total breakdown. Once we bonded together, sought refuge and comfort from each other, I was able to think somewhat clearly and I realized... duh. What we are doing is not working for our family. We are all miserable so obviously we need to try something else.
It's hard to feel like I have enough energy to draft a new plan and follow through. But we all need the change and I am home all day and need to implement the schedule. So I pulled down Ben's preschool schedule and followed it loosely, inserting snack, inside and outside play, nap and quiet time, and making sure that our schedule is built to work seamlessly around preschool pick up and drop off times. We also do the same things at the same times that he does them at school, so that he feels that consistency no matter where he is. Even if he doesn't understand the times of day, he understands the order of his day.
I also wrote down our discipline strategy. He gets one warning at eye level, then he sits on the yellow chair for time out and I set the timer on my phone for 3 minutes (his age) and show it to him. If he gets up or causes trouble, it starts over. He was in time out for what felt like eons this morning, but once he felt the boundaries and they were quiet and consistent, he calmed right down. He began using the potty again (amazing), and just behaving much, much better. It was almost immediate.
So tonight we have some work to do. Baby Sister will be in the pack and play so we can practice sleep training at night without worrying about her waking up Ben. So at night, we will give her a few minutes to settle down on her own before going in. When we go in we will lay her down, get her pacifier, tuck her back in and then give her fifteen minutes to work it out, as many times as it takes. When she is doing better we will pull the pacifier (it's just starting to make our lives harder not easier) and then once things are settled they will go back to room sharing.
I plan on us doing a separate night time routine for Ben and then Scott and I will take turns sitting close by and showing him how to lay down and go to sleep. I will quietly put him back in bed over and over again until he falls asleep and I will do this as many nights as I have to, silently and with eyes averted, until he starts to learn and do it himself. Hopefully this will help calm him down and get him to fall asleep and stay asleep quickly. We will be skipping naps about three times a week and seeing if that helps him settle down faster at night.
Fingers crossed, friends!