31 October 2014

A Change is Coming

One of the most dreaded days for parents (as well as adults with no children, grown children or old children) is fast approaching...the END OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS!

Early, dark mornings will be the norm starting Sunday morning at our house. My early-rising Kiki will get up even earlier. In Idaho, our geographical location (north and very close to the eastern border of the Pacific Time Zone) makes winter months dark. Our morning routine will start hours before the sun rises.

My earlier riser is also an earlier-to-bed-goer. The "fall back" will bedtime even earlier, at least for a couple of weeks. Slowly, we adjust to the new time, but those dark mornings require an extra cup of coffee.

Last year, Kiki was 7 months old and falling into a nice sleeping pattern when the end of Daylight Savings roared it's ugly head. I was nervous (a.k.a. terrified) about what this hour of change would do! We got thrown off for a week or two, but eventually, she adjusted.

The inevitable arrival of November 2nd got me thinking about our nighttime routine. It's changed and evolved over time. One of the first pieces of advice I was given (and followed) as a new mother was to "start a bedtime routine with your infant, even if it is very simple." My friend, a mother of 5, with her newest baby just weeks older than Kiki, had to know what she was talking about. And she did.

During Kiki's first months of life, her routine was very simple as her needs were very simple. I changed her diaper, wrapped her tight in her swaddle, sang her the first song that came to mind: "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Ottis Redding, while swaying back and forth, and then shushed until she fell asleep (which could take a very long time). I would VERY CAREFULLY set her in her crib, trying harder than I have ever tried for anything, to not wake her. Sometimes it was successful sometimes it wasn't and the process would start over.

Those days didn't last forever and our pattern changed over time. But, I have always kept a routine, varying it as she gets older, changing things when they need changing. I try to observe her and listen to what she is showing/telling me.

Eventually, I learned that she no longer wanted to be rocked to sleep in my arms. She would cry, arch her back and fight sleep in my arms. Eventually it dawned on me that maybe she just wanted to be set down awake to have more space and freedom to fall asleep on her own. It worked. When Kiki was 6 months old, I got up the nerve to change our bedtime routine. We still did the diaper change, the sleep sac, the singing of "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," the forehead kiss...but I set her down with confidence and walked away as she lay there awake.

This change in routine took courage. It wasn't always easy, but I found it happened more smoothly than I imagined. Maybe it was because we were both ready.

The routine has stayed pretty constant for the past year. We have added teeth brushing while looking out the bathroom window and singing Raffi's "Brush your teeth" song. I still sing "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," but now I don't even get to finish the song. She wants down in her crib to play with her babies before I've belted out all of those verses. I fear she may someday blurt out "why do you always sing that song to me, Mom?"

Our bedtime routine is simple, nothing clever or groundbreaking. It works for us now and is sure to change some day. There will be transitions to toddler beds, wearing of pull-ups and requests for water/another book/more snuggles/[fill-in-the-blank] and this nighttime routine will evolve. Every day brings something new and I am trying to saver them all, knowing nothing lasts for too long.

Even if it's early, I can't help feel excited to enter Kiki's room to see that sweet face and crazy rat's nest hair after a good night of rest.

Sweet Dreams!

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