Intense Sleep Deprivation

Why is it that in college I could stay up until three in the morning, wake up four hours later, and still feel rejuvenated, and yet, a mere five years later I can't even survive on seven hours of disjointed sleep and one nap a day? Somehow "children" must be the reason. It's the only thing I can think to blame.

My kids have brought me to the edge of intense sleep deprivation and they are about to push me over. In an attempt to gain the upper hand I've had to turn to some pretty tricky (and by tricky, I mean sometimes rather humiliating) methods of getting shut eye. Towards the end of my pregnancy with my son, I would find myself dozing on the couch as my daughter played nearby on the floor. She didn't like it. I suppose it might be that she thinks sleep is the enemy. Don't believe me? Come spend one night at my place during bedtime, and you'll see just how much a 2.5 year old can fight sleep. In an effort to arouse me from my lumbering slumber, she would jab her fingers into my eyelids screeching, "Eyes, mama, eyes!" It was a rather effective method of awakening that I may just have to use on her when she reaches high school.

Now with two kids who aren't really into sleeping, I have to get a little shut eye whenever possible, and I found just the way to do it. During my son's morning nap, my daughter and I play "Baby." It was her idea. Really. I was just laying on the couch completely immersed in playing toys with her (I promise) and she must have decided I looked cold and needed a blanket, not to mention a stuffed dog to hold and a pacifier to suck on. And then she told me to close my eyes and go to sleep, so I obeyed and closed my eyes. I guess she figured that made her the mom and she pulled out a dish towel and began wiping the floor. (Though I can't imagine how she knows how to do that. I haven't seen a mop being used in my house for months.) She checked on me every few minutes, sometimes offering a sippy cup or patting my head, and I obliged her wonderful imagination by relaxing. It was the least I could do.

We've now played "Baby" many times, occasionally by her choosing, and my husband no longer looks concerned when he comes home to find me contentedly sucking on a binkie. He's just realized how desperate I am. And I'm just hoping that she'll become a bit more efficient with cleaning the floors.

So there you go. Today's lesson is that there is no shame in finding ways to relax. Whether it be taking a quick refreshing snooze while you nurse your newborn, or by convincing yourself that the only way your toddler will nap is if you are forced to lay down with her. Hey, I won't even judge if you tell the kids you "need to go to the potty" and take a catnap in the bathtub. You need it.

Disclaimer -- Always make sure the kids are safe: playing in their crib, glued to the TV, off loaded to the neighbors, dining on a extra large bowl of sugar, whatever it takes.


Bad Habits

As the name implies bad habits are . . . well, bad. You're supposed to try to get rid of them and replace them with positive, happy things. I chewed my nails all through college in order to survive test taking. The habit has now been replaced by nail polish in a billion colors that make my stubby fingernails look so nice I don't dare take a bite (not to mention the fact I'm no longer taking tests.) But, lets face it. Finger nail biting may have been integral to my college success. Without the stress relief of chewing my nails to the quick, I probably would have failed every test.

Gasp! Did she really just say that there's a place for bad habits? You'd better believe it. While pregnant with my first, I read every book I could find on parenting. And you know what all those books talked about? Not getting your baby hooked on bad habits. Sounds logical.

Each book on sleep habits told me to look for sleepy cues and the minute I saw them I was to soothe her, put her down, and let her learn to fall asleep on her own. I could live with that. Unfortunately, the model of baby I purchased didn't come with that feature. And like all things needing to be returned, I couldn't find the receipt, so I was stuck. The only course of action my sleep-deprived, labor hazed mind could think of was to rock her to sleep. Doesn't sound too harmful does it? Aren't babies meant to be rocked? They fit so perfectly in your arms. And so I rocked her to sleep over and over again.

And she slept. And yes it turned into a bad habit. My sweet baby couldn't put herself to sleep. In fact, she required quite the gymnastic routine in order to fall asleep. There was marching, and shushing, and jiggling, and repeating. I can't say that I really enjoyed it. But what was I to do? I, after all, was the one who created the bad habit. It was only fair that I bear the brunt of the burden. Now I'm guessing you think you know the moral of the story, right?

Don't give your kids bad habits!

Alas you'd be wrong. The moral is that there actually just might be a time and place for bad habits as long as you can face the consequences. I really can't think of what else I could have done--babies need sleep! And so do tired, new moms. Trust me, I've thought this over a lot. A LOT. Did I mention eight months ago I just had my second baby. And, you guessed it, this one didn't come with the sleep feature either. You'd think I'd have learned to stop throwing out the receipts.

So what I decided twice as a mom with a new baby, was that rocking to sleep was a bad habit, but one that I could live with. And eventually when it became unbearable, I could find a solution at that time. That time being a place in the future where I was actually getting sleep and had found my way out of the postpartum hormone cloud. At that time I would be rested, some what adjusted to motherhood, and my babies would be older and more able to learn to sleep on their own.

In the end, my daughter sleeps just as well as any other sensitive, hyper, delightfully hilarious toddler, and I hardly remember those long sleepless nights of rocking her to sleep. You forget. Trust me. My son is proof of that. He and I are still working on getting out of our bad habit of rocking to sleep, but we've got time, and there's no rush. This time I'm painfully trying to enjoy my nights of rocking him to sleep.

But, I will tell you this. This time I'm recording myself on video so that I don't forget. Because, believe me, I need a bit of a break!

So, there you have it. My first introduction to Freestyle Motherhood was choosing to let my kids develop bad habits regardless of what the experts say. Granted there are bad habits that really are bad. I don't let my kids run with knives, smoke cigarettes, or watch U of U football (Go BYU!), but there are some "bad" habits I'm fully embracing. At least for now. Because eventually my children will have no bad habits. They'll be perfect. Right?


Hello World!

I've joined the land of Blog. Can't say that I really ever expected that to happen, but it has. I suppose it's a rather unfortunate turn of events for all of you reading this (and by "those of you" I mean the one single, solitary person who will feel obligated to come along for the ride. Hi, mom!). I've always had schemes in the back of my head for Internet domination. I can picture the money pouring in, the adoring fans swooning at my feet, the black studded jacket and tongue piercing . . . Oh, wait, that's Plan B--Rock 'n Roll stardom. Regardless, I've always liked the Internet. Who doesn't like shopping for shoes in your underwear? And it's even better when you can do it in front of the laptop drinking a frothy Sprite, rather than in a shoe store where the evil-eyed sales lady shoots laser beams at your cellulite rumpled rear.

In fact, I like the Internet so much that I make my husband pay 6 dollars a year to hold onto my web address. No, not this one. This one's free of course. There's another one. I won't release any details because it's going to be big when it debuts. BIG, I tell ya! It's only taken me three years to design the header, so there might be a bit of a wait. To tell the truth, I think I've given up on that website. Having kids make you give up a lot--sleep, clean clothes, showering, dreams of financial success.

Which brings us to my point. You weren't sure there was one, were you? Neither was I, but suddenly I somehow turned the conversation to kids. Actually, I had a lot more to say about my "other" website. All of it witty and charming, but alas, I've gone and gotten to the point already, so I must forge past.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The point of me being here. Kids. That's pretty much the gist of it. I'm sure you can deduce the rest.

But in case you can't, I'll help! (You're just dying to see how long I can make this first post, aren't you?)

Kids make you crazy. Kids (especially young ones who really don't speak yet, and possibly teenagers who talk in TXT SPEEK) don't make for great conversationalists, and so I spend my days ga-ga-ing to an 8 month old and singing with a 2.5 year old about monkeys jumping on the bed, who really should have realized at least by the second head wound that the jumping was a bad idea.

And all of this means, that when my husband gets home, he gets an earful. I have so much to tell him! Like how long the jelly toast that was flung at the ceiling by a tantrumming tot stayed glued there, or how many "moneys" said toddler tried to feed to her living breathing brother of a piggie bank. And I won't even go into attempts at retrieving the cash. And then there's the things you find in diapers, and the crazy places you find binkies, and the blood and gore and head wounds . . . Oh wait, that's those stupid monkeys and their incessant jumping.

And so, I'm almost to the point. I promise. Really. The point is that I need somewhere else to ramble--for the sake of my marriage and my sanity. And that's where you come in (Hi, mom!). I'm going to tell you all about my crazy thoughts. Or what I like to call "Freestyle Motherhood." You were wondering what that meant.

It basically is the idea that mom's live by the seat of their pants. They figure it out day-by-day. And you pretty much do what works for you. Every mom gets to pick their poison (figuratively speaking, hopefully).

I tried to do it by the book. I really did! And then they sent me home from the hospital with a living breathing 3 day old. And things went haywire. Quickly. I can't explain how quickly! There was a suitcase she was supposed to sleep in, and crying, and no sleep whatsoever. Yep, a suitcase. It was a light bed for jaundice which didn't just eerily look like a suitcase. It was a suitcase. My poor baby spent her first few days at home in a suitcase. What a way to say "Welcome to the family!" Anyway, I decided then and there to do it my way. And here I am almost 3 years later, alive and breathing. So, in my book, it worked!

And that, my friends, is Freestyle Motherhood or Freestyle Fatherhood for all those men reading. (Hi dad! I know mom's gonna make you read too.)

So join me, as we figure out what works. And please, if you've got something figured out, let me know and I'll hand the reigns over to you for a day and you can help us all out on this roller coaster known as parenthood.

Happy reading!


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