Thursday, March 6, 2008

Solo parenting this week

This week has been an experiment in single parenting for me. Husband is away on a "work-vacation," as I explained it to the Bean-girl. Sure sounds like a vacation to me--5 nights, 6 days away in a ski mountain lodge, free from parental responsibilities, skiing and listening to medical seminars in his field. I will reveal my incredible geekiness here now, by saying that I would *love* the chance to attend a meeting in my field, and listen to the latest cutting-edge research, skiing or no. (It would actually be a No, because I don't ski. I drink hot chocolate, instead).

So far it has gone better than I expected. Husband left us at 5 am Sunday morning. Sunday with the kids passed reasonably well. Evening posed a dilemma—how do I put these two children to sleep by myself? Both kids go to sleep unconscionably late—we are talking 10:30 pm on a good night, sometimes later. This is not what we, the parents, want; but it is what happens. And the bed time routines are terribly protracted, labor-intensive affairs for both children, involving ( 1) one parent lying next to Bean-girl in her bed until she falls fast asleep and (2) the other parent holding the Baby Legume as she cries and/or thrashes until she falls asleep. I am aware that according to sleep gurus Ferber and Weisbluth and all their ilk, my husband and I are Doing Everything Wrong, and the children need to Fall Asleep on Their Own, but there you have it.

So my solution? I put my girls to sleep in my bed. They’d both end up there eventually anyway. Bean-girl was very excited by this novel turn of events, and ran to get her bedtime books to read in my bed. She was so excited that it was a bit hard for her to settle down. Baby Legume lay between us, thrashing and fussing. Eventually we all . . . passed out.

When I opened my eyes again, it was 3 am, which is the longest stretch of sleep I’ve had in a while.

Monday night the Bean-Grandma ( my mother) arrived to help out. Bean-girl is beyond thrilled to have her grandmother here. The Baby Legume? That first night, she was not so sure. Now, however, she seems to be getting along swimmingly with Grandma, except at night when she reverts to Tired, Screaming Baby. This transformation has led my mother to call her a “Vampire Baby.” Holding Vampire Baby traumatizes my dear mother, and Bean-girl refuses to allow Grandma to put her to sleep, so . . . I am still putting both girls to sleep simultaneously by allowing them to lie with me in my bed at night.

4 days down and 2 more to go. I am so looking forward to Husband’s return (and not only for help with the girls), and I know the girls are as well. But having Bean-Grandma in the house for the whole week has been wonderful for them both. Grandma even got to witness two new milestones for the Baby Legume this week. On Tuesday night the baby pulled herself up to standing for the first time! That evening Grandma demonstrated clapping to the Baby Legume, and the next morning she woke up and began spontaneously clapping her little hands! It’s more a closed-fist bringing-of-the-hands-together than an open-palmed clapping, but it delights the Legume nevertheless (and everyone else as well).

3 comments:

ScienceMama said...

Yeah, Ferber, Weisbluth et al would have our heads too... Sometimes, though, all you can do is survive...

Hooray for Baby Legume for learning to clap and for pulling up already!

Good luck with the rest of the week. I'm glad you have the Bean Grandma there for help and support.

Life As I Know It said...

Good luck with the rest of the week!
I'll be solo parenting for 8 days at the end of the month. I'm thinking of asking my mom to come visit!

The bean-mom said...

Sciencemama,

When Bean-girl was a baby, we tried to make her fall asleep on her own by Weisbluth's "extinction" method(i.e. close the door and let the baby cry herself to sleep). It was a disaster, and I've felt a personal grudge against Dr. Weisbluth and Ferber ever since.

Life as I Know it--good luck with your solo parenting week! I highly recommend the grandmother help!