Normal is just a dryer setting

That’s a saying I hadn’t heard until I had a baby. Most of the time I’ve heard it used it’s been referring to sleep.

I’ve been thinking about sleep a lot lately. Probably because we have an afternoon wedding next week and I have no idea how we’ll make it work. Also because with my babe’s crazy schedule, I have moments where I doubt myself. I’m sure all parents do all of the above at some point. For me, it’s because when I started writing this post, my 15-month-old was reading books to himself at 10 p.m.

I think most kids his age go to bed 7:30ish. I have no idea. It’s been months since he went to bed that early. I recall at that time, I’d message one of my mommy friends, asking if 7:53 was too early to go to bed. “It’s never too early,” she’d always reply. Amen, sista. Off to bed I’d go.

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A rare car sleep many months ago.

Sleep is a touchy subject among parents, another one of those things I had no idea about (the touchiness or controversy) until I had a baby. There are sleep trainers and books galore on how to get your baby to sleep and everyone has an opinion on your baby, even though they aren’t the ones with him or her every day. People like to ask if your baby sleeps through the night, much like they ask about the weather. And everyone has an opinion on how to make sleep happen and how and when your baby should sleep through the night.

When your baby goes to bed at 9:30 on the early end of the spectrum and I won’t even say how late on the other side, it’s hard not to a) feel alone b) wonder what the heck you did wrong and c) wonder if you should do anything differently.

As much as I don’t think you should wake a sleeping baby, after a particularly late bedtime, we woke him the next morning, fearing what might happen if left to his own devices: would he sleep til noon?! Then when would he go to bed??

All we got was a cranky baby who still went to bed 10ish. I vowed to just leave things be and to continue doing what we’d been doing, which is following his cues and my mommy instinct.

The things is, I feel there are a few positives to our schedule as well, such as we sleep in (I’m not a morning person, and I get up when he gets up or close to), because he’s up late he gets quality Daddy time every night, and evening outings with him are fairly easy and pain-free.

Of course the flip side is that because we sleep in, it’s almost impossible to plan morning play dates because most babies are mean and wake their parents around 6 apparently and thus nap around the time Cub rises. This kind of sucks and can lead to the alone feeling I mentioned, but I’ll take it if it means I don’t have to get up at 5:30.

For those other mamas whose baby might also have a supposedly whacked schedule, let me tell you that we’ve always done bedtime routines of bath, books, songs, playing quietly, nursing. It doesn’t seem to matter if we’re in front of the TV before bed or not. Some days he’ll nap late, until 6, and I’ll think, Shit, now he’ll never go to bed….and he’ll be asleep 4 hours later. Other days he’ll nap til 3:30 but won’t be snoring until 11. He nurses to sleep whether it’s nap or bed time. He usually falls asleep this way, although sometimes he gets patted to sleep. He used to rock or bounce to sleep when much younger.

This was one of the best articles I read about sleep. I still love it. All the lies you’ve been told about your baby and sleep. If you haven’t read it, you should. You’ll feel better. It links to another good, more scientific article about “normal” baby sleep, which is to say all of it is normal. As in, if your child sleeps through the night, embrace and enjoy it. If s/he doesn’t, embrace it and know nothing is wrong with you and your baby…and nothing lasts forever….and you’re not alone.

No matter how your baby sleeps, whether they wake once or 17 times at night, whether they go to bed at 6 or 10, whether they take one nap when everyone says they should take two and two when everyone says they should take one, another mom has been there. Just keep following your instincts. You know what’s best for you and your baby. As I’ve said before, embrace what works for you, because only you know what’s best for you: not a sleep trainer or expert or another mom.

Because remember, “normal” really is just a setting on your dryer.

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