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Early Bedtimes

I have been going to bed before 10pm for more than a month now…..  No prizes for guessing the reason correctly.. 

Last November I managed to get Meimei to return to her own bedroom… by buying her Sofia bedsheets! I was soooooo happy but sadly it didn’t last…. A few weeks later, she wanted to sleep on my bed again…. and this time she wanted me to stay in bed with her too! *CRY CRY CRY*

What, that would mean I wouldn’t have any me-time! How to read my books, watch tv, zuobo???!? Luckily at that time I had just finished watching a long drama (The Legend of Mi Yue, very nice!) and was still recuperating and had no desire to ‘chase’ any drama again in the near future. Anyway I had no choice but to give in to Meimei….

So, the kids go to bed by 9.30pm every night. While Meimei waits on my bed, I take my shower and then immediately reports back to her… Since I wake up at 5.30am every morning, I am too tired to get out of bed after waiting for her to fall asleep. Actually most nights I KO while she is still rolling around and talking to her doll. 

While it feels restrictive to have to be in bed with her so early every night, the bonus is I feel more rested and happier to wake up in the morning. Now I am up around 5.30am and have more time to exercise. I am trying to lose weight so an early bedtime is helping in many ways. Yesterday (Sunday) I got up at 5am and went for a 2-hour run! 😀 So far I have lost 2+ kg in four weeks… Jia you Jia you!

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How To Make More Hours

Was just reading my old posts on routine, and wow, life of a mother of three young kids was really horrid. How did I survive! Routine 5.0 was written more than one year ago, and my life has got so much better as the kids get older. Just a couple of weeks ago I got to sleep in till about 8am everyday!

BUT. Kor Kor is starting primary school in a month’s time. Worse, he is in the afternoon session, so it’s like he hardly get any time at home. So I decided to revamp our routine to maximize what time we have. I still really hope to include outdoor/ playground time, library visits, early bedtime, free play!

Routine for school term from Jan 2016 onwards:

630am Breakfast and wash up

730am Playground & me reading to them

9am Home, showers

930am Free play and homework if any 

1050am Lunch

1130am Get ready for school

1150am Go out 

1230pm Home with the younger two

1pm Nap/quiet time

3pm Snack

6pm Go out to fetch Kor Kor

640pm Dinner

730pm Shower

8pm Milk & bedtime reading

830pm Bedtime

I have started waking up around 6am to prepare breakfast. The boys use an alarm clock to wake up at 630am. They need some help waking up earlier mainly because recently they have been playing and talking till very late after lights out. But it’s ok, they are slowly adjusting to it – forced to wake up early means they KO faster at night and it’s getting easier for them to pop out of bed in the morning. 

We have also been doing early lunches for two weeks and trying out new menus. Instead of the previous three dishes, I am trying to cook a one-pot rice dish and a veg. This will give me more free time with the kids in the morning… since I won’t see Kor Kor the whole afternoon!!

But not rigidly following the schedule yet. Definitely more than an hour at the playground now…. Enjoy while they can! And still going out with friends and for lessons on weekdays… Lessons will be changed to the weekend from Jan onwards. Not looking forward to busy weekends!!

The biggest problem now is how do I survive the early start to the day……. Just this morning I threw away (figuratively) the alarm clock cos had to get up 5-6 times to attend to the kids last night. Plus I am really very night owl… Been reading up on this and of course gonna keep trying… 

Wish me luck!!

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Meimei’s Empty Bedroom

Before I started writing this post, I took a look at my previous post about Meimei’s sleep problems… and realized that gosh, she has been at it for more than a month!! HOW did I survive the past month!??

Anyway, I have given in completely. Now she is no longer napping and she goes to bed in my room every night…

After the initial refusal to nap, I decided that no, I must make her nap!! Because she’s only two years old! So I did…. she cried quite a bit but most of the time she did fall asleep… It wasn’t just CIO ok…. I didn’t leave her to cry in her room…. Because she could easily open her door now and kept opening the door and asking for this and that. I would refuse and she would cry….. 

Soon after, she refused to sleep at night too. Bedtime, kept opening her door just like nap time. I had to sit outside her door until she gave up and fell asleep… 

After two weeks of this, I decided I really don’t want her to cry so pitifully everyday anymore. I shall just give in to my princess. 

So, no need to nap in the afternoon anymore, because it takes too much of your tears to make you sleep. You can just hang around with us while I do some reading with your brothers. (You are already joining us for our morning reading anyway!) Mummy shall just cook fast fast then rush you off to bed fast fast after dinner! The dirty dishes can wait! 

You can sleep in our bedroom since that’s what you prefer. Mummy and Daddy will just shower in the other bathroom instead so that we won’t disturb your sleep. We will also just tiptoe around in the mornings so that you can sleep in longer hopefully. 

So far, Meimei has missed her nap for the past three days and did not even fall asleep in the car in the afternoon. That means she wasn’t tired, right? She has also gone to bed happily at bedtime. I don’t even have to stay with her… bring her in to my bed, kiss her goodnight and she quietly stays in bed till she KO. 

So, it’s now three of us in the master bedroom, the two brothers in one bedroom, and one nice empty room. 

The best part? Seeing my darling girl sound asleep so sweet when I go to bed too! : )

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The Lost Hour

I used to be very obssessed about the kids’ bedtimes – MUST sleep early. Must nap. Why? There are many, many books and online articles advocating the importance of sleep for young children and how they should sleep – how many hours of sleep they need at each age, what time they should sleep, etc. In short, young children need to sleep a lot, and they need to go to bed very early.

But somehow, I had lost track of this very important brain factor along the way. We did not start having late-night activities. We did not start returning home very late. When I became aware of the problem and reflected, I realised that it was because I decided to take things slooooow, to let the boys take their time instead of rushing them all the time. (Still rushing them when we need to be somewhere by a certain time though.) So when they were engrossed in their play when we were supposed to be preparing for bedtime, I tried to let them play and to just wait, instead of hurrying them to drink their milk, brush their teeth… I also patiently read them many bedtime stories………….

It was good, cos everyone felt more relaxed and there were fewer tantrums. I was happy too cos task-oriented me could finish doing all the miscellanous stuff like washing their water bottles, unpacking & packing their bags. But it meant the boys often ended up going to bed around 10pm >.< And yes, they still woke up at their usual 7.30am, often even earlier.

Then I read this book and it woke me up.

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An experiment was conducted where groups of fourth-graders and sixth-graders were randomly told to either go to bed earlier or stay up later, for three nights. The difference in amount of true sleep turned out to be an hour. Only an hour, yet the effect was significant – a slightly sleepy sixth-grader would perform in class (test of neurobiological functioning) like a fourth-grader.

Truth be told, it didn’t take much to convince me, because of my sleep-fanatic background. All I needed was a reminder. Nevertheless, I find this book to be a great read. It covers ten topics, each in a very digestible chapter. And it’s available from the library! Happy reading!

 

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The Best Season

I feel like we are finally where I want us to be.

We have settled into a routine where each day is predictable. Mornings are usually spent at home, so that the kids have their fill of free play. Classes and outings are mostly in the afternoon. So the kids know that it’s time to go out after their nap almost everyday. I like this routine too, because I feel accomplished by the time the kids go for their nap/quiet time – even if we do nothing else, the kids have played the whole morning!

Kor Kor has started attending the classes which I envisioned him to take up since he was very young – swimming, wushu and Mandarin speech & drama. Before this, he was too young for the classes… and also too young for the daddy to be willing to pay for his lessons 😛 Three classes is a bit too much on top of school I think, so we will stop the speech & drama classes before he starts primary school in a year’s time.

Didi is also attending wushu. Though a bit young, he’s happy and enjoys the classes : ) Now, just waiting for a vacancy at swim class! And for Meimei to be old enough to start ballet and guzheng, heehee.

Now that the kids are older, we can be more flexible in terms of naps when we do go out the whole day. The boys can go without a nap occasionally, and it is quite easy to get Meimei to nap in her stroller. This means that it’s easier for us to go for nature outings, yay! (I am exploring joining Nature Society as a family. Shall update if it’s interesting!)

I am also loving our home environment. The last round of decluttering was very successful. But it’s definitely not just one round of decluttering that did the job – it’s the accumulated results of many, many rounds. I read Simplicity Parenting almost one year ago, and it’s still having a huge impact on my parenting now. I love our work spaces / activity corners around the house – art station (which I have added on to since the post), playroom, reading nook, science lab, nature table (post coming!), construction area (very new), and others. (some areas have made way though :P)

Most importantly, my firstborn is growing up to be so sensible! He gives in to Meimei a lot and offers his help when I am tired or busy. To be frank, Didi is still very whiney at 3.5 years old… But he’s really very super cute! Makes me laugh at the most tired or stressed times : ) And Meimei, our princess, she’s getting spoilt and naughty, but never mind, she’s our princess! It’s good training for the boys anyway, to learn to give in to younger ones and girls. And urmm, I am confident of correcting her wayward behaviors, hiak hiak hiak, no more always getting your way now that you are older, Meimei!

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Yes, I am happy and love my days together with my children. I love being able to be with them and to seek learning opportunities together.

But let there be no illusion. Happy is one thing, TIRED is still very real. Just because I manage to do it, doesn’t mean I don’t feel exhausted. I am half-dead by mid-day, after the lunchtime rush. I don’t know what my point is here, just want to say, I am really very, very tired. Oh well 😛

 

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In Defence of Cry-It-Out

Quite often, I come across articles condemning the CIO method of sleep training, usually links posted on facebook. Seriously, with three kids and a firm confidence that CIO is the right thing for my children (in hindsight!), I can’t be bothered to even comment on those links anymore. One man’s meat is another’s poison, to each his own, and all that.

Sure, I have no doubt that non-CIO methods can be just as good, if not better than CIO. How can letting a baby cry and cry be good anyway? Who cares about a baby being independent anyway. I am just quite sick of those articles implying that mothers who do CIO are lousy mothers.

And what’s not mentioned in those articles is the opportunity cost for the rest of the family. And I don’t mean the mother. It is obvious that the welfare of the mother is of little importance in comparison to the baby, not going to argue with that. And ya, it’s not just about the baby and the mother.

The other children

So, when the mother is doing her best to soothe the baby to sleep, what happens to the older siblings? I guess they will either be playing on their own… or being taken care of by another adult (maid?)…. or maybe the TV or smartphone is babysitting them. Baby gets mummy’s loving attention and time – good for him, perhaps not so good for his siblings.

Or what happens if the older sibling is still young enough to need a nap? And to need the mother to soothe him to sleep as well? I don’t know how the mother is going to juggle that. Maybe end up neither child get to nap at the time that he should nap? Or get the amount of sleep they need?

The baby’s father

Baby sharing the matrimonial bed. Hmm. Or perhaps the husband doesn’t even get to sleep in the bed anymore.

The mother

OK, even though nobody cares about the mother’s well-being, I still must mention this. It might not matter that the mother is exhausted and stressed – that’s the price for having a baby what, how can let the baby cry just so that the mother can rest, no way. But the quality of her relationships with the whole family will probably be adversely affected when her fatigue makes her impatient, or just no energy to play with the other kids, ya?

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I know there are mothers out there who seem to be able to do it all – multiple kids, homeschool, outings, fun activites, no maid, cooks, does all the housework, takes care of all the kids herself, and does NOT use CIO. But but but, I am sure there’s some compromise somewhere. It is just not possible to really do it all.

If not for CIO, I would not able to homeschool my children. I would not be able to manage taking care of my three kids without a helper, be it family or hired help. Since I really want to homeschool, I would really really hate it if I had to send the older kids off to school just so I could take care of the baby, and I would feel it was really really unfair to them.

I did CIO for my first child even though I only had to take care of one then, because I knew there would soon be a younger sibling (before I got pregnant). We had planned to have a second child soon, and I needed to think for the near future. (I started calling Kor Kor ‘Kor Kor’ when he was three months old.) I did CIO for my third child even though there would be no more younger ones, because I was already taking care of three young children then. (In all my plans, a maid was never in the picture.)

Not everyone want to homeschool, so most people won’t be bothered about sending the older kids to school. There is nothing wrong with not homeschooling anyway. My point is, other than whether it’s good for the new baby, there are many many other factors to consider. Is it good for the old(er) baby? Is it good for the father? Is it good for the mother? Different priorities for everyone, just remember to consider the whole family!

By the way, I don’t mean to say I first tried CIO because I only considered the welfare of my husband and children. I wasn’t so noble. I tried it because back then, I was feeling so tired and frustrated and stressed and helpless. Other than knowing I must not start co-sleeping if I wanted to take care of my second child on my own in future, the other sleep training methods we tried had failed, namely by schedule and pick up put down.

Frankly speaking, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for mothers to do CIO just so they can have more rest. Even if it’s the only reason for you wanting to sleep train your baby. No need to feel guilty. Happy mother, happy baby. Happy mother, happy family. Happy wife, happy husband. So go ahead, no need to justify your decision!

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After Sleep Training…

What is it like after sleep training? Does the child cry herself to sleep EVERY night???

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Took the photo after I put her in her cot and said ‘night night’

 

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She just looks at me close the door, wide awake

Most of the time, she hardly cries at all when I bring her to her cot for her nap or at bedtime at night. When she does cry, like last night, I go in and ask her what she wants. Usually she’s OK after drinking some water, then I put her back in the cot and say ‘night night’ again. If it’s the middle of the night, she usually can’t wait for me to put her back down, and starts to wriggle downwards once she has had enough water. Come to think of it, there has not been a single time that a hug or water fail to stop her crying. Very, very occasionally, if she wakes up too early in the morning (6am+), I give her her water bottle and let her play alone in her room, while I continue sleeping on the floor.

Very obvious that I am an advocate for sleep training hor? 😛