Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Best Co-Sleep-But-Don't-Have-Them-In-Your-Bed-Forever Tip That I Almost Never Hear

As an AP/crunchy mom, I'm a pretty big fan of co-sleeping. I'm sure most of the readers of this blog are too. But let's be real for a minute- I'd also guess that most of us aren't too keen on the thought of having our kids in bed with us for the next 5-10+ years, especially if there are many of them. But at the same time, most crunchy moms aren't comfortable with the idea of crying it out, and lets be honest- uncomfortable transitions aren't exactly the funnest part of parenting, especially when they involve losing sleep. So what's a crunchy momma or daddy to do?


I've found a solution that's worked really well for our family, so well that I can't believe that I don't hear more people talking about it! It's a super easy, transition free way to help your kids slowly start sleeping in their own beds as they get older.



When my babies were brand new, I felt most comfortable with them right in bed with me the entire time. I'm pretty paranoid about leaving newborns to sleep(or do anything, really) alone for any length of time, so I'd always keep them close to me and bring them to bed with me as soon as I was ready to go to sleep, even if they were still sleeping.



Here's the key though. At 3, 4, 6 months- whenever you start to feel more comfortable with your baby sleeping unattended for a little while- have them start out the night in their own bed. That's it! That's my whole tip! Isn't that easy? Seriously though, have them start out the night in their own bed. Then, the first time they wake up to nurse, just bring them back in bed with you, and you can co-sleep and nurse to your mutual hearts' content for the rest of the night.



This is a great idea for so many reasons. The first is that it gets the child used to their own bed. Of course, as an AP momma I never expected my babies to sleep all night in their own beds(and I still don't). But I think the idea of getting them used to another bed at an early age, in a non-scary, non-threatening way can only be a good thing. If they've only ever slept in one bed for the first several years of their life, that could be a big transition when it's time, but if they're comfortable in a couple of beds from 6 months on, it makes for an easier transition. Also, since I was bringing them back to your bed to co-sleep and nurse for the rest of the night, I found that my babies didn't get scared when they woke up in the middle of the night. I came to them, every time, and they learned that when they woke up momma was going to be right there and get them for nurses and snuggles. I was NOT wiling to try to get them back to sleep in the other room, and get in and out of my bed several times a night, but I could handle getting up once and falling right back to sleep. I enjoyed the snuggles too, of course.



Here's the real kicker though. Typically(and your baby might be different, of course), as babies turn into toddlers and then preschoolers, they start to sleep for longer stretches without waking. If they start out the night in their room, that means that as they start to sleep for longer stretches, they'll be sleeping longer in their room. When I first started doing this with Tristan, he'd sleep until maybe 11PM or midnight. As he started getting older, he'd sleep until around 1AM, then until about 2 or 3 AM. Now? Most nights, he sleeps the entire night in his own bed, in his own room, and comes into my bed to nurse around 6 or even 7 AM. It's wonderful!



There was no transition period. There were no sleepless nights of putting him back in his bed multiple times. There was no nervousness for him about a new bed or about sleeping without mommy. He simply went to sleep in his bed like he'd been doing since he was about 6 months, except now he sleeps all night! He's totally confident in the fact that if he needs me I'll be there, and that he's welcome in my bed if he needs to snuggle, and occasionally he does need those middle of the night snuggles. But most nights, he doesn't need to anymore. My 2.5 year old, attachment parented, still nursing, never-left-to-cry-it-out toddler sleeps most nights in his own room, of his own will.



Did I mention that there was NO transition period, at all???



For the life of me, I can't figure out why more moms are not talking about this! I realize every baby is different, but this was SO easy for us and worked SO well that I can't imagine it not working well for at least some other families!



Now, if you want to take this tip to the next level, here's my other suggestion. Skip the crib. Really. I moved both of my babies into a twin bed by the time they were 13 months old, but if I ever have another, I'm planning to skip the crib altogether and just have them sleep on a twin or double mattress put right on the floor. Why? Like a lot of breastfeeding moms, I like to nurse my babies to sleep. And like just about any mom can testify to, it's SOOO difficult to nurse/rock/cuddle your baby to sleep, and then do the dreaded transfer to the crib. Just typing that makes me feel anxious! Not. Fun.


Once I moved my babies up to a twin bed though, bedtime got so. much. easier. I could just lay next to them and nurse them to sleep, and then as soon as they were asleep I could just unlatch them, if necessary, and get up. No transfer required. They had no idea I was even gone. Absolute brilliance! Whenever they woke up in the middle of the night, there was no freaking out(most of the time, it happened occasionally). They were in a familiar, comfortable place, and they knew as soon as they called for me I'd be there to bring them into my bed.


Tristan when we first moved him out of the crib. We didn't have a twin bed at first, so we just put his crib mattress on the floor. It was uncomfortable, but did allow me to kindof lay next to him and nurse him to sleep. Wasn't he cute?!


Are you catching how awesome this idea is? Laying next to your baby to nurse them to sleep, no crib transfer required, and then as they get older, no transition period required to get them to sleep in their own room!!! They just sleep all night on their own whenever they're ready! SO. EASY.



Am I living under a rock? Are there moms everywhere doing this and talking about it? If you've done this or something similar, I'd love to hear about it! I understand that this idea probably won't work for everyone, but it worked so well for us that I can't believe that there aren't moms everywhere shouting this idea from the rooftops!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Remembering Dad.

Today marks 8 years since my dad passed away. It was completely unexpected- we had no idea that he was sick or in danger of dying. Of course, looking back there are signs- morbid obesity, sleep apnea left largely untreated. But when you're just a kid you don't ever think that you might wake up one day and find that your father is just gone. I still remember the last movie we watched together, the last words that he said to me that night before I went to sleep. I'll cherish that moment forever.

I guess grief comes in waves, or at least it does for me. I'll go for months without thinking about him much, and then I'll have a month where everything reminds me of him. November's been like that for me. The first chilly day always makes me think of him- how much he loved the cold weather and breathing in the fresh northern air. Then, unexpectedly, the grocery store parking lot will be full of migrating birds, and I remember how we used to sit and watch them all sitting in the trees, the electric wires, the cars- and how he'd clap loudly and watch them all scatter. Thad told one of his jokes in a sermon last week- it went over well, just like his jokes always did. Of course that brings me to thinking about how proud I think he would be of us, for stepping out and planting a church, for the amazing pastor that Thad has become, for the strong a loving community that we're building. I have to believe that he'd be proud of me too- proud of how I've matured, how I've grown, how I've come to take a stand for what I believe in. I think he'd be proud that I've learned to think for myself, how I found myself, and even though I lost balance and love in the process, I found them again- and I think he'd be so incredibly proud of that.

Of course, November brings Thanksgiving- that was always our holiday. Our family didn't celebrate Christmas, so we made Thanksgiving just as big of a deal, gifts and all. Every year dad would wake up before dawn to get the turkey started in the oven, and every year I looked forward to helping him cook. We always made a feast that could have fed fifteen or twenty people, even if it was just the four of us. Even though it looks a little different now without gluten, I still love keeping that tradition alive and cooking Thanksgiving just like he used to. He died exactly a week before Thanksgiving.

Just a couple of weeks before he passed, my sister and I took a trip to Dallas for a dance conference. Before we left my dad took me aside and with all seriousness told me to, "Take care of your sister." I laughed, and he told me again, "I'm serious- you need to take care of your sister." How I've wondered if somehow he knew what was to come in just a few short weeks, and oh the heartbroken tears shed over my inability to keep my promise that I would, in fact, make sure nothing happened to my sister.

But there is redemption. My sister and I have been able to reconnect over the past several months, and I know dad would be so happy about that. Just last week I was making the drive and hour north to visit with her and her two kids. My introverted self was loving the so rare uninterrupted time to ponder- and my fun, music loving self was enjoying turning the radio up loud and introducing my children to classic rock and fine country music. Then it dawned on me- this is why my dad loved driving so much. When we were kids, he'd pile us into the old red bronco and we'd literally drive for hours- him listening to classic rock and us reading books in the back seat. I always thought it was a strange thing to like, a strange way to pass time. I never expected to enjoy long drives like he did, but now I get it. I feel just the same way.

My dad is buried close to where my sister lives, so on our way home I decided to take the kids to see his grave for the first time. Hayden and I had already been talking a lot lately about my dad and how he died. She knows that he got very very sick and died. She knows that his body stopped working, but that his spirit went up to heaven to live with Jesus. She still had some questions when we got there, and I explained to her that since my dad's body stopped working, they put it into a special box and buried it in the ground. He doesn't need it in heaven anyway. I was afraid it would be weird for them to be there with me, but it wasn't. It was very peaceful, and I think Hayden understood pretty well what I was explaining to her. I only wish they had actually gotten to spend time with him. My dad was so good with kids and I know he would have been just crazy about them.

Rest in peace, Dad. We're still here, doing well, and still remembering you. <3

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Handprint Wrapping Paper for Christmas!

*WARNING* If you're reading this and you know you're getting a present from me this year, you might want to stop reading if you want to be surprised.

The awesome thing about starting your Christmas planning in October is that you can do extra fun things like making your own hand and foot print wrapping paper with the kids(without stressing!). We had so much fun doing this last month, and now that I've got most of the gifts finished and wrapped up, I can go ahead and share.

This was a messy job.


But greatly enjoyed by all. 

 Yes, you can totally see my child's ribs there. I do feed him adequately, promise.

Let me just point out that I'm SO. GLAD. that I went ahead and got the washable paint like the man at Michael's suggested. I was thinking, "Eh, they'll just get some on their hands and feet, and we'll be able to rinse it off before it dries- no biggie if we don't get washable." I was So. Wrong.

I think someone had fun. 

By the time we were done, we ended up with four large sheets of gift wrap. I'm hoping that will be enough to wrap all the gifts that we're giving this year(gifts for our immediate little family will be wrapped in something else), but if not, I have a little extra (washable!) paint on stand by. 

I'm really pleased with how the gifts turned out! I went all out and got gift boxes to put the irregularly shaped gifts in, and then wrapped each one with the handprinted paper. I used red yarn(to enhance the crafty feel, of course) to tie around each gift, and then embellished them with a sparkly snowflake ornament from Target and some personalized photo gift tags that I got from Paper Coterie

I just love how they turned out! I hope all our family does too. The only downside- now I've got to come up with something to top this for next year!

Are you doing anything crafty for Christmas this year? I'd love to see what you've got going sofar! Share a link below or on my Facebook page. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Can't we all just own our decisions?

Yesterday I went to lunch with some mommy friends from church. We had a good time, just chatting and hanging out. Then after we'd been there for a while, a controversial topic came up. (I wasn't even the one that brought it up, aren't you proud of me?)



The topic was potty training. The mom who had the controversial opinion is a pretty experienced mom- she has two adult children, two tweens, and a one year old. She tried to change the subject when it came up and said that we all probably didn't want to hear her opinion, but the other moms encouraged her to share anyway.



Her basic opinion was that most parents are way too relaxed about potty training. She said that back in the day, people didn't have three and four year olds walking around in diapers, and that back when everyone used cloth diapers people were a lot more motivated to teach their kids how to use the toilet. She said that she thinks the diaper companies are getting rich off of parents that keep waiting longer and longer to potty train, and that they keep coming out with bigger and bigger diapers and more products so that people will think it's all normal and keep buying.



At some point in there I said, "So you probably don't think Tristan should still be in diapers, do you?" She hesitantly said no and shook her head. Uh oh!!! Did she just tell me I should be doing something differently? Did she just call me a bad mom??? Nope. I didn't freak out. I didn't get my feelings hurt. You know what I did? I owned my decisions. I owned my reaction. I acknowledged that the choices I've made probably weren't ideal, but that they were what was working for us right now.



I said, " I don't disagree with what you've said, and I have similar views about a lot of other things. I used to cloth diaper, but as Tristan started getting older and especially when I started the (very labor intensive) GAPS diet, the laundry got to be too much for me to keep up with and I switched to disposables. " I admitted that a big part of the reason that Tristan is still in diapers is because I've been too lazy/ busy to start the potty training process with him. Actually, he started learning to go potty on Saturday, and then I got sick and wasnt up to continuing. I'm sure we'll pick it up again soon.



The mom at the lunch didn't mention this, but I'm also aware of the fact that there are tons of chemicals in disposable diapers, and that they don't biodegrade. I'm not proud of the fact that I'm putting toxins on my toddlers skin and that I'm contributing to the landfills. But you know what? I know my limits. I know that I can't do everything, and I'm okay with that! For now I've made the choice to prioritize what goes into my child's body(aka what they eat) over what goes on my child's body. I've also made the choice to prioritize my mental health by not adding extra laundry to my list of duties. Are these decisions ideal? No, but they're what's working for my family right now, and I've made them intentionally. I'm confident in my decisions and my actions, even though they're less than ideal.



We didn't have an argument. I didn't get defensive and my feelings didn't get hurt. My friend didn't bash me or say that I was a horrible mother. She simply shared her opinion on what she would have done differently, and because I was confident in my decision, even though it was different than hers, I didn't get offended.



Can we all try to do this a little more? My point here is not to say that I'm perfect or that I react this way all the time- this story is just an example. I've definitely overreacted over things in the past. But for the most part, I'm confident in my decisions because I've put a lot of thought into them and have deliberately chosen what's best for our family. Notice I didn't say what's absolutely best- best for my family is going to look different than best for your family. Can we be okay with that? Can we discuss our differences without getting our feelings hurt? Can we acknowledge facts, even when they're not in favor of the decisions we've made?



Just because someone has a different opinion doesn't necessarily mean they're doing this to you.


Photo Credit



I'm not saying that we should go around sharing our controversial opinions at the drop of a hat, or that we shouldn't use tact when discussing controversial topics, especially with those that have a different opinion. I'm just frustrated with this trend that I see all the time, when people get offended over someone simply having a different opinion than them, or simply sharing facts. Could we all commit to taking ownership of our decisions? If you don't feel confident about something you're doing, take the time to figure out why. Do you need to change what you're doing, or does your perspective need changing instead? I think if we could all come to a place of feeling humbly confident about our decisions, it could open up the lines of communication a lot more, even between those that have very different opinions and ways of doing things.



What about you? Do you feel confident in the parenting choices you've made? Are you able to talk with people that have different opinions without getting upset? Where's the line between simply having a different opinion and being judgemental- and does that line seem to move depending on how confident you are in your decision? What do you think contributes to the hostility that sometimes arises when we discuss controversial issues with people that have different opinions?