Day Nine: The sleep milestone illusion – Friday 26 June 2015

So we didn’t get any Game of Thrones in, tally remains zero.

Baby growing is a milestones game. Despite your best efforts to ignore the temptation to peer over the proverbial fence (in this case ‘the internet’) to see when your neighbour’s infant is rolling, or eating lamb ragout, or smiling, or blogging, or teething, or playing the tambourine, or whatever, it is impossible to avoid comparing your child’s development to the ‘norms’ (which as you learn vary enormously, almost to the point of being unhelpful).

In our experience the most emotive and pressured of these comparisons is sleeping. Does your child sleep? How much does he sleep? Does he sleep through? Why doesn’t he sleep through? When he starts solids he’ll sleep better. When he starts formula he’ll sleep better. When you stop feeding him overnight he’ll sleep better, etcetera. You need to get on this early or he’ll learn bad habits (from YOU) that will mean his dreams of being an astronaut are forfeit and he will likely spend at least a little of his youth in juvie. To quote Chris Rock “you ain’t saving no college money, you saving bail money. That money’s going to Johnnie Cochran”. There are, of course, thousands of books written on this topic, and many thousand more opinions on how not to inflict these insidious bad habits on your child.

Milo is not a great night sleeper. He has always had a strong day sleeping game, but at night his desire to enjoy life to the fullest does not fit well with being asleep; some form of baby FOMO we think. His performances have also gone up and down several times over the last eight months, but certainly he is nowhere near sleeping from ‘seven to seven’, as the victory objective seems to be.

We have dabbled with various theories and attempted sleep discipline, but not in a particularly aggressive or determined fashion. He has a nice routine which we follow closely in the evening. We have experimented with ‘controlled crying’ to help him learn to settle himself but in our experience Milo will escalate his displeasure in a reasonably linear fashion, quickly reaching a point from which it is far more difficult to bring him back; and with the inevitability of the working day looming it is very difficult to not return to a technique that you know is more likely to help him, and therefore you, with some sleep. For example, settling him in your arms or feeding him.

Milo loves the dummy (or ‘schnuller’ – my favourite German word) when it’s time to sleep; he is almost impossible to settle without some sort of schnuller intervention before bed. Milo has a fiendish yet brilliant trick that he plays if you leave him to cry for too long, which is infuriating but at the same time genius. I can’t help but grin to myself at his practical cleverness. If left too long to whimper Milo will simply toss his schnuller out of the cot, usually quite some distance. For me this is akin to asylum seekers turfing their passports into the sea, or setting fire to their boats (if they do this). He is essentially saying “guys, it is now impossible for me to settle myself so you’d better come in here and cuddle me”, which we do.

At the moment Milo’s biggest concern seems to be sleeping in his cot on his own. At any point during the night if we bring him into bed with us he sleeps soundly in a gentle snorting, flailing sort of way. So long as you are content to be slapped in the face or kicked in the crotch every now and again, this is a perfectly sustainable way for everybody to get some rest. Kuepps and I have discussed this and come to the conclusion that she and I both sleep through the night, and have for many years. As do most adults we know. Everybody gets there, and so long as we are working together, and always trying to maintain our good humour, we will be fine. Although with an Ashes Series just around the corner it could be a perfect time to experiment with some funky sleep hypnosis, hold him by his ankles and rub his head counter-clockwise technique. I will be awake all night anyway.

I have thought about this today because despite the unsettled evening we had last night Milo slept very well overnight; nothing like a little swimming pool trauma to encourage some restful sleep in a lad.

Today was a far less energetic day. Milo was pleased to see my brother who came to visit us for lunch, and we all enjoyed beef burgers together in our most local cafe; Milo’s uncle was impressed by Milo’s ability to consume large quantities of beef patty. All of their high chairs are too large for little Milo so we are thinking of purchasing them one for our use when we are there; an indication that we are visiting too much? Not sure.

In the afternoon another brother then came to visit having finished his last exam for the semester, to pick up a bicycle and eat sandwiches. My brother resisted my offer of mid-afternoon Venezuelan rum and wondered whether this was a regular feature of my daddy daycare regime. For the internet record, it is not. Milo was captivated by his uncle’s very large size and bouffant of flowing hair.

We then spent the next couple of hours playing, dancing and rolling around. Milo has decided that all he really needs from me is to lie on the ground so he can clamber over me like a jungle gym, and gets quite tetchy if I attempt to involve myself in any more active way.

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Jungle gym dad

The cavalry (AKA Oma) arrived at 1700hrs to take over so I could head out to watch the Swans capitulate against the Tigers. Kuepps arriving home tonight!

  • Game of Thrones episodes watched – 0
  • Adult conversations about politics – 2
  • Hours unbroken sleep for Milo overnight – 6
  • Number of daisies from the garden eaten by Milo – 2
  • Podcasts listened to – 1 (‘Serial’ over, research being conducted for new show)
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