Our evenings are always running a delicate balance between trying to get everything done, feeding the kids, and getting the kids to bed without too much stress. Often one or other of us is out doing something social, too.
Usually the balance holds, and we achieve the various important tasks of feeding, changing into pyjamas, brushing teeth, toiletting, reading stories and putting to bed with only one or two grumps, sometimes a minor tantrum. Some nights the balance tilts in favor of a more pleasant experience, when for some reason both children are well-rested, eat lots of dinner, are polite, and get ready for bed without a fuss. On these nights I come down stairs with a glow of pride in my evidently awesome parenting skills.
And then we have nights like tonight. M fell asleep on the way home. This is never a good thing. We usually wake her when we get home, resulting in lots of shouting of “Maaaamaaaaaa!” like a baby and crying “I’m hungry! I want to eeeeeat! Mama can I have Peppa Pig!?” over and over. I usually have to sit with her on the sofa for 10 minutes watching Peppa tupping Pig until she calms down. Often E starts crying in response to M’s crying and I have to cope with them both wanting my lap at the same time. Once an episode of the annoying pink porcine has been watched, M usually calms down and sometimes has a decent dinner and bedtime.
Tonight we let her sleep. My reasoning was that if she has a whole sleep cycle and wakes naturally, she’ll be happier. Right? WRONG. Near on half an hour of flailing, crying, sobbing, calling out. Nothing calmed her. She wouldn’t tell us what she wanted to eat or drink, just that she was hungry and thirsty. All the time her eyes were closing and she was drifting in and out of sleep. We tried to put her to bed, which resulted in more screaming. We tried to ask if she wanted dinner, which she ignored. We cuddled and shushed and soothed her like a colicky baby. M did not know what she wanted!
Eventually she calmed down enough to ask for food (but of course rejected the pasta I’d made), took a tiny bite, said she didn’t like it, and wanted to get down. One episode of Ben & Holly later and she was ready for bed.
Sigh. Tired children make for a difficult bed time. I don’t know how to change this though!
And then there’s the matter of E not staying asleep once she’s in bed. I don’t mind the night waking for feeds; that doesn’t bother me at all! But I wish she’d stay asleep once she’s down. She falls asleep fairly easily, but I’m usually up feeding her back to sleep every 20 minutes until I come to bed! It makes it difficult to get things done in the evenings.
Just keep repeating Attachment Parenting principles: by responding to their needs, you are building a strong attachment which is an investment in a secure, happy, well-adjusted child.
That’s the theory, anyway…