Parenting The Youngest – Meimei we can co-sleep!

Inspired to share about this topic again. Because Her Highness Princess is acting up again. ARGH! I had been so very proud of her ability to sleep by herself since very young (five months old?), but recently she has been refusing to nap in the afternoon. Boo hoo hoo. Any parent will know a child’s refusal to nap is a disaster, right?

For the first few days, I felt quite upset about it. Though I mostly just gave in and let her skip the nap lah. But then I realised that hey, actually there’s nothing to stress about. So what if she doesn’t nap? The main problem is that I will not have any one-to-one time with the boys if Meimei doesn’t nap, but I can easily tell the boys that we can’t do one-to-one since Meimei is awake. They are old enough to understand and have been ok with it thus far. we are unschoolers so we don’t need structured learning activities. My rest is not affected either, since Meimei is very competent at independent play and doesn’t disturb me while I catch forty winks or do housework.

Another problem is, how can I ‘escape’ while she is awake? Almost every Saturday, I bring one or both boys out to run some errands or visit the library or do something which we can’t usually do with a toddler around. (The three of us went to Pulau Ubin last weekend! The boys cycled while I ran alongside them.) But I have also thought of a ‘solution’ for that – just leave and let Meimei cry lor…… she is already two years old… she has to learn to accept mummy saying byebye to her… And actually, once she gets used to this, I have More Freedom! Silver lining! YAY! (Sometimes, circumstances is the best motivation, otherwise I really don’t know when I will finally Just Do It.)

For a couple of nights this past week, Meimei woke up around midnight and refused to go back to sleep on her own. So…. urmmm, I just let her watch tv while I finished doing whatever I was doing (preparing meals for the next day.. take a shower.. watch drama serial), then I either slept in her bedroom next to her bed or let her sleep on my bed together. Watch tv during middle-of-the-night wakings??? This had NEVER happened to the two brothers!

The thing is, so what if Meimei wakes up every night and wanna join me on my bed or want me to sleep in her room? So what if she wants to drop her nap at two years old? It’s OK cos I don’t have to worry about taking care of a younger baby! With the two boys, I really thought very far ahead and was very worried they would develop bad habits making it impossible for me to manage with a new baby. But now, no such worries anymore! Suddenly, I quite agree with anti-sleep-training experts that babies will grow up and grow out of these ‘bad habits’ anyway.

Hmm, sometimes we read about the pros and cons of sleep training, co-sleeping, etc. I am thinking, perhaps it’s not about which is better, but about which is more suitable for each family in a certain situation.

And the good news is, today I tried having some reading and activity time with each boy while Meimei was awake. (They chose two books for me to read and we did a few brainteasers for a total of 30 minutes each.) Sometimes Meimei played on her own, sometimes she joined us to listen to the stories. When she got naughty, I threatened asked her whether she wanted to go for her nap, and she quickly backed off. Didn’t even need to be fierce. Hee hee 😛

Felt such a sense of relief when I saw that the previous post was less than a month old 😛 I have been busy cooking more for my family – more often, more dishes, more variety, healthier snacks. Also trying to go running every night. So many things I wanna blog about, but not enough time. As it is, I have not read any book for quite a while. But I have definitely not forgotten about or given up on this blog! : )


How Many Hours Outdoors??!? 1000!

A few months ago I came across this blog 1000 Hours Outside. At first, it was just another parenting blog which caught my attention and I started to follow it on facebook. Then gradually, I got more and more inspired and decided to join the challenge! Yes, I have committed to gifting my children 1000 hours outdoors within one year!

I began intentionally increasing our time outdoors and tracking the hours in February. It has been two months, and we have clocked 117.5 hours. Argh, yep, we are behind schedule. To hit 1000 hours, we need about 83 hours a month. But well, February we were down with HFMD, and in March we had an overcast and wet week at Taiwan (SIGH. And even after we came back to sunny Singapore, we are spending a few more days at home just to recover from the depressing trip. Now I know I need to live in a tropical country. I need the sun. Anyway, that means my April tally gonna fall short as well.)

But why 1000 hours in the first place?

Charlotte Mason recommended that children between the ages of zero and seven spend 4 – 6 hours outside every day.  This amount of time is backed time and again by research showing the astronomical health, social, and developmental benefits that accompany time in nature.  That amount of time on a daily basis was unrealistic for us so we aim for that amount of outside time three to four days a week.

Four to six hours a day, three to four days a week puts us roughly in the ballpark of 1,000 Hours within a year – which gave the website a catchy name.  So I went with it.

I tried googling for other guidelines on the amount of outdoor time children need. But all I could find were the minimums – that children need at least n minutes outdoor. But why would I want to give my children the minimum when I can give them more? I am not a CM homeschooler, no special reason other than not wanting to follow any one philosophy, preferring to let my children relax and lead our learning. But hey, I do like her idea of children spending a lot of time outdoors! And of course, there are many, many good reasons for outdoor play!

Nine more months to go before Kor Kor starts primary school, and 882.5 more hours! Definitely not giving up. So, what are the lessons I have learnt these past two months?

Firstly, even though I have always been quite outdoorsy and thought I had been bringing my children outdoors quite often, it turned out that we did not actually really spend that much time outdoors. Argh. It takes very intentional planning to fit in more outdoor time. I am now more conscious of my choice of activities for the kids. Not that theatre performances or indoor playgrounds or museum visits aren’t good, but now I follow the guideline of ‘when you have the choice, choose outdoors.’ The best part, it’s usually cheaper than other options :p

Secondly, it’s not so good to go overboard either. The first week of February we hit 26.5 hours and the second, 30 hours. Very good, right? But I was exhausted! And I think the kids were too. They didn’t exactly say they felt tired (energizer bunnies, they all), but Kor Kor was complaining he had no time to do his stuff at home (all important stuff of course. The Lego bricks were slacking!!) Breakdown of the hours:

Week One. Sunday 2 hours at stadium jogging followed by playground. Tuesday 9 hours at Bishan Park. Wednesday 1.5 hours swim class plus free play. Thursday 5 hours at ECP. Friday 8 hours at the zoo. Saturday 1 hour playing at the grandparents’ yard.

Week Two. Sunday 2 hours at stadium and playground. Monday 8.5 hours at Pasir Ris Park. Wednesday 1.5 hours at the pool. Thursday 8.5 hours at Botanic Gardens. Friday 6.5 hours at Bird Park. Saturday 2.5 hours can’t remember where. (I noted down the hours but not always the venue/activity.)

We spent three full days outside in a week! When the kids woke up, they had to get ready to go out. By the time we reached home, it was time for them to get ready for bed. After that, I made up my mind to keep to a maximum of 20 hours a week. Then, the HFMD curveball hit us, and it was March when we ventured out again. Happy to report that we did 20 hours in the first week of March, and we all felt happy and rested : )

I think it’s easier to hit more hours outdoor when we spend a longer stretch of time or even a full day from morning to dinnertime. Maximising the utility of travel time and packing and lugging the kids all the way there,.. haha. And the kids seem to be better able to settle down and be really engrossed in their outdoor play. Otherwise, it seems pretty touch-and-go… soon after arriving, we would have to pack up and leave for meal/nap/bedtime.. Fully enjoying the ability of the boys to last a whole day without nap, and Meimei’s ability to nap anywhere in her stroller!

I am expecting to crawl out of this recovery rut by the end of next week latest. Probably will try to visit indoor attractions for the time being while I get back my groove again. Because the key is not to force yourself to do things you don’t feel like doing, Mummies! Am just taking a break, and will bounce back soon! Shall update on our outdoor adventures then : )

[Was trying to go to bed earlier for the past weeks. Also trying to resume a decent exercise regime. But ended up just stoning on the sofa and not getting much done. Even though I kept thinking of writing my blog. I have decided to just accept I am an owl. Run at night after the kids go to bed, then write blog after running and resting.

Please teach me how to be a mother and get enough sleep and have a life!]