Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bed time here at our house, part 3

My children are like stair steps- all coming in nice, even 19 month intervals. When Carter was three and Josh was the prescribed 19 months, God blessed us with a sweet, spirited girl. Sophie has been a true blessing to our home. She has certainly shaken things up! I usually hear something like, "She's spunky, isn't she?" or "She has a lot of personality" within fifteen minutes of meeting someone new.

But we are talking about bed time, arent' we? I have described our experience with bed time with our first two children. Both boys followed a schedule, and were happy sleepers. When Sophie was a newborn, I became much more flexible with her schedule. I had to be! Carter and Josh were busy active little guys, and I no longer had the freedom to focus solely on my newborn.

I think both Sophie and I benefited from my new-found freedom. I still followed the pattern of feeding right after she woke up from her nap, and I would try to keep feedings at around every two to three hours, but after that one 'rule' I was much more flexible. If Sophie fell asleep at the 'wrong' time, this was a blessing and not a problem!

(With Carter and Josh, my mother had found it astonishing that I would try to keep my babies awake until the prescribed nap time. Her philosophy was that if a baby wants to sleep, let him sleep. After Sophie, I saw and I felt the wisdom in my mother's words.)

The amazing thing to me was that even though I was no longer so rigid about the schedule, Sophie slept through the night at around the same time both boys did. I did not need to be so afraid! I think all those scary, worse-case scenarios (i.e. if you do not follow a rigid schedule or if you rock your baby before bed or if you let your baby go to sleep fifteen minutes after a feeding- your child will not sleep through the night until he is a teenager...) are based on fear.

Now I have come to believe that if you are happy with your baby's routine, or lack thereof, and your baby is happy and growing, then there is no need to change what you are doing. Different families have different needs, backgrounds, and goals. Some of us count the days until Baby sleeps all night, others are perfectly fine sleeping with or next to their babies for many months in order to feed or cuddle Baby at a moment's notice.

If your baby is cranky, you are miserable from lack of sleep, or your husband is asking, "When are we getting our bed back?", then you might want to seek counsel from another mother or email me and I'll help however I can.

Sophie will be two in December. At bedtime, I read her a book, turn out her lights, rock her, sing the Gospel Song, pray, and then sing God is so Good. I usually finish the last song while I am standing right next to her bed. In the bed she goes, with her blanket she has had since birth, along with her soft baby that she has also had since she was an infant.

I love bedtime with Sophie! I get special time alone with her, and I relax and rock while my husband wrangles our rowdy boys up for bed. While I used to rush as fast as possible through putting my babies to bed, I now love to linger and often will sing our special songs several times before I put her in bed.

With our boys, who are five and three, we do jammies/teeth/bathroom and then (I've joined them by now) often read a book. Then it's time for prayers, kisses and hugs, and in the bed. Before my husband leaves the room, he tells them a story which always starts out, "Once upon a time, there were two boys named Carter and Josh..." and proceeds to recount their day.

Bedtime is a source of great joy, and of great relief. Scott will often say, "You made it" and I'll breathe a sigh of contented relief. Then it's almost bedtime for Mama before my little stair steps are up and at it again.


Anonymous said...

Hi - found you via comment at Amy's Humble Musings . . . I have 3 kids who are stair-steps, too - each 17 months apart! Our youngest is still 2 months old, so I'm eagerly awaiting the scene you described! Flexibility, I have also found, is the key to happiness as far as daily routine with a baby!! It's amazing how God blesses me in disguise with little tweaks to my structured schedule!!!
God bless,

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