Posts in Baby Wrangling
Christmas Preview

Seeing as how we're less than two weeks from the big C, I thought I'd better do something about Christmas cards. You know. Because there's still like two weeks to go! Plenty of time! And heyyyyy, I've got things to be finishing and deadlines and stuff, so let's spend the entire weekend day stalking the elusive toddler pose conveying the perfect amount of holiday cheer while staying well on this side of cheeseballz.

We only got ONE good shot. But one is all you need. 

Here are some of the others:

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Setting up our shot. Creating a seamless backdrop with my sheets and then allowing my toddler to climb over everything. Because I'm so pro.

 

IMG_9300

Practicing posing. Where posing = running away then coming over to me demanding to see the poorly executed picture.

 

Christmas Photo Tired Baby

Deciding to do a photo shoot with twinkeling fairy lights and then disovering that the lights that you bought are battery powered and the battery holes are covered by a plastic plate which is screwed on by the world's smallest phillips-head screws and we don't have any screwdrivers small enough but that's okay, I'll MacGyver a solution with a pair of tweezers and some scissors and OH THERE! I got it open, but that's the computer chip so let's go back and unscrew these other screws and now I've stripped the screws and now this is impossible and it's naptime therefore eff everything I'm sending my husband to the hardware store. A poorly executed plan if there ever was one.

 

Christmas Photo Setup 

Okay, regrouping. Testing the setup with Baby Honey while Stella naps.

 

Christmas Photos Twinkle Lights 

Run away baby.

 

Christmas Baby

Trying really hard to get some festive non-cheezy hat photos. (Shuddup. It's not a cheezy idea.)

 

IMG_9351

With a very suspicious toddler.


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Who is obviously taking none of my bs.


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I tired really hard for the hat photo, guys. It just wasn't hapening.

 

Anyway, there you go. 

 

Friends and family, from the above outlined evidence, you can expect your cards sometime before Valentines day.

 

Internet, I'll post the winning picture on Christmas Day! Hooray! You WIIIIIIINNNN!

 

****Updated to add*****

 

OMG BLOGGY FAUX PAS!!! I forgot to attribute this idea! I got it here! I wasn't trying to be mean and steal stuff like ideas and things, but I just forgot! I swear! I forgot! Anyway, Baby Rabies gave my the idea, and you can go there now for a wonderful tutorial on how to take photos JUST LIKE THESE (with hopefully a more willing participant).

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Small Style, Coffee Date Style

I’m not even sure what I used to write about for Small Style. Was it fashion tips for toddlers? Was it deriding the fact that my child is the world’s worst sleeper?  Was it a romping account of some minor molehill of an incident that I mountainized until drama was seeping out it’s ears? 

  Small Style

Ummm, probably all three. But. Lately there has been relatively little drama. No vom-a-thons. No up-all-night-all-you-can-scream buffets of misery. Although there was that time the other day wherein my lovely daughter stayed up two-and-a-half hours past her bedtime, which, because of my new morning routine, is about two hours past MY bedtime. However, she made up for that transgression by finally falling asleep in my bed (after me, I might add) and staying there all night. So, not only did I get little trip down co-sleeping memory lane (I’ve been rejected big time in the co-sleeping department since Stella developed a will of her own at around 10 months), but I also got a lovely, cosy all-night-sleep buffet with a cuddly baby while I imagined that she was snuggling me and didn’t think that sleeping in my bed was totally lame. Mr. Chef, however, convinced that Stella would wake any moment and need some baby ninja action, slept in her room all night on a tiny cot and did not benefit from this sleep coup. Anyway. Most boring story of all time.

 

Moving on.

 

I took Stella on a coffee date on Monday with a real-life friend. Whom I made through my blog. And, of course, she was the perfect baby. For all my winging about her not sleeping and not playing by herself, she is a model child when we go out in public. Not a peep. Not a whine. Not a tantrum. She’s all, “please” and “thank you” and “yes ma’m” and “here, let me hold that door for you,” and “allow me to wipe your table.”

Small Style

Serious. She’s like this all the time when we’re out. It’s okay to hate me. 

  Small Style


Also, it’s December. And there was sun. So we played in the leaves. Well, when I say “we”, I mean my friend and Stella. I’m not a big fan of dirt. And stuff.

  Small Style - Leaves

Moving on.

  Small Style More Leaves


I have noting to move on to. So, here’s a random, poorly executed picnik collage. Feast ye eyes.

 

Picnik collage


 

Stella Wore:

 

Shirt - Crew Cuts

Jeans - Baby Gap

Cardi - American Apparel

Shoes - Converse

Jacket - Gifted from Switzerland. So it’s the warmest. 

 

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Sleep Again. {SOC Sunday}

Here's my latest entry for Stream Of Consciousness Sunday. This five minute brain dump, as hosted by Fadra at All.Things.Fadra, offers a place to lay down your troubles without worrying about form and style and typos (as if I really worry about those). And my troubles are, surprise surprise, sleep. 

Why don't you join in, too?

#SOCsunday

 

***

Some day I'll write about things that have noting to do with baby sleep. Or toddler sleep. Or kid sleep. Or my own lack of sleep.

 

That day is not today.

 

We're back in Japan, after a rather eventful flight, and we're fighting sleep battles full force.

 

Last night I went to bed at 7:30. Mr. Chef stayed up and put Stella to bed. When she was sound asleep, he headed out for the evening, only to return at 1:30 am, and catch us up, siting in bed, snacking on cheese and crackers, and watching Modern Family together. I couldn't face fighting my kid to go back to sleep, so I just made the most of her wakefulness.

 

Mr. Chef put her to bed, and within five minutes she was out.

 

Had I been on sleep duty, the crying and screaming and carrying on  would have lasted hours.

 

Today, at nap time, I lulled Stella to sleep, pulling out all the tricks. Nursing her and holding her hand. She woke as I left the room. Again, Mr. Chef came in and saved the day. He snuggled S for a moment, then laid her down in her bed, and it was lights out in moments.

 

Tomorrow, I face nap time alone. Mr. Chef is back to work. I fear this with all my being.

 

Now, tell me why my kid sleeps for everyone under the sun except for me?

 

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What Not To Do When Traveling With A Toddler

You'd think, after clocking so many miles of trans-continental travel over the last year and a half, that there wouldn't be much left for me to learn about long-haul flights with a toddler. You'd think that 15 flights across the ocean would be enough for me to have this whole flying-with-my-kid thing down.

Well, yesterday's debacle proved that in fact, there is so much that I have yet to learn. And so, herewith, I share with you my list of What Not To Do When Traveling With Your Toddler:

 

Photo airplane

 

First and foremost, do not forget your baby sling, lest you find yourself with a tired, squirming toddler on one hip who is vehemently insisting that she be allowed to get down and RUN! RUN! RUN! as you navigate your way through through four airports, while also dragging a suitcase, a diaper bag, and an unreasonably overloaded handbag. 

Second, do not pack 200 lbs of things to take home with you. And certainly, try to avoid having five suitcases to haul. It will prove incredibly problematic when, in the event that you have forgotten a vital piece of baby carrying equipment, you are required to navigate through Narita airport pushing a luggage cart piled higher than your sight-line one handed, while lugging said squirmy toddler who would much rather be sleeping. Or running.

Third. Do not listen to that little voice in your head that says, "We don't need extra ziplock bags. We always bring them, but never use them, so let's just save a little space, shall we?" For, when you discover that you're child's amoxicillian has exploded, you will have no means by which to contain the pink goo that is rapidly spreading all over everything.

Fourth. Do not, in an attempt to avoid your usual travel uniform which consists of old leggings and a tunic that gives you the distinct appearance of a disheveled vagabond, wear your newly purchased, favorite pair of paints, the last pants in the entire continent in that particular size and colour. For, when you inevitably spill coffee all over yourself, you will not only feel great sadness at the prospect of having ruined your new trousers, but you will also end up looking like a disheveled vagabond anyway.

Fifth. Do not engage your child in rowdy horseplay on the airplane. Fun as it may be, when she whappes you in the face mid-flight causing your nose to bleed, you will curse your parental irresponsibility.

Sixth. Ensure that you do pack extra clothes for yourself. For, when child-induced bloody nose leaks everywhere, you'll want a costume change so that the remaining 20 travel hours will not be spent looking like a disheveled vagabond who was recently in a bar fight.

 

There you have it, a comprehensive list of the what not to do when traveling with a toddler.

I'm sure that I have saved a million mothers a million stressful moments, because while the above tips may appear self-evident to a layperson, let me assure you that these lessons can only be won through experience. 

Or perhaps a little common sense. Of which, evidentially, I have a shocking dearth. 

 

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And So, Everything Is Terrible Again.

You guys, the sleep demons are back and things are bonkers bad. I know I promised you deep thoughts on the culture of parenting today, but all I've got is deep swigs on a glass of port. That's about the best I can manage. You'll understand.

My kid has quit sleeping. Again. All I can surmise is that we're in the thick of the 18-month sleep regression. Which is sub-awesome, because we're going back to Japan this week. The sub-awesomeness of this situation is further compounded by the fact that my mother is staying in America. And she is the only person who can get my kid to be unconscious.

It's currently midnight. My kid has been up for an hour and a half. She won't sleep. My mum has just taken the reigns of this runaway sleep pony and is wrestling it into submission. I might also mention here that a similar turn of events took place last night somewhere around the 3:30 AM mark. Oh, and like every naptime and four out of five bedtimes for the past week. Because I am completely incapable of getting my child to sleep, and have proven that I can be outwitted by a 17-month old.

So, let's review where we stand, shall we?

18-month sleep regression + jet lag + no more baby whisperer = A catastrophic trifecta of terrible. 

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

(please someone come over here and punch me in the face.)

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An Excuse To Tell You About The Cute Things My Kid Does

Babies are always learning. Close your eyes for a second, and suddenly a new THING has popped into your baby’s brain. 

 

After a week in America, Stella knows that you take things out of the dishwasher. While she has not mastered the distinction between clean things and dirty things, she does know that cutlery comes out of the dishwasher, and that we use cutlery at the table. So back and forth she toddles, table to dishwasher, carrying dirty knives and forks and placing them on the dining room table. And I let her, because she feels helpful.

 

I left Stella with Nanny and went of to write. Nanny reported back to me that they played outside and Stella was pushing around everything with wheels. The stroller. The mechanic’s stool. The wheelbarrow. Stella pointed at the lawnmower. “Lawnmower!” said Nanny. Stella signed “more. more. more”. Lawnmore.

 

I sit on the floor with Stella and play cars. “Vrooooommmmm, vrom, vrooooooooommmmm,” I say, and push the tiny car in circles around her. Now, Stella points to a car in a book and says mmmmmmmmmmmm.

 

I took Stella to the doctor yesterday at the behest of a persistent four week long cold. The doctor wanted to look inside Stella’s ears, searching for infection with her ear-looking instrument. Stella is terrified of that thing and wails as she sees it approaching her face. So the doctor, of wonderful bedside manner, said, “Look, Stella, this is my flashlight. See my flash light? Do you want to hold my flashlight? I’m going to look in your ears with my flashlight?” 

The doctor looked, and Stella only pouted. She didn’t cry.

 

Later, at home, my mum gave Stella a set of keys to play with. On the end there was a LED flashlight keychain. Stella turned it on, and put it to her ear.

 

Babies are always learning stuff. 

  S walks dogs

What is your baby learning? 

 

***

Oh, hey, by the way. I'm now listed on Top Baby Blogs. I have been for a while, but in ture EPB style, I'm only now getting around to doing something about that fact. So, see that little icon on the left-hand sidebar? Would you go over and click that for me? Just giver 'er a little click and a vote for us. Once a day, if you please, and we'll be major. And I'll love you like bonkers. 

 

***

 

Oh, hey again. A while back I wrote a post for Aiming Low. So now I'm a grown up writer and stuff. Or something. Anyway. Have a look, if you'd like. 

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Flying with Kids Is Less Terrible Than You Think

Stella first boarded an airplane when she was 10 weeks old. Since then, she’s visited three continents. She’s been on 12 transcontinental trips, and flown at least 36 individual flight segments. With the exception of her first flight which featured a colic attack at 33000 ft. and a shitastrophe over the Rockies, none of these flights have been terrible. Long, wakeful, and boring, yes. But not terrible. 

 

  Photo 2

We board early while a flight attendant helpfully lifts my carry on bag into the overhead bin. Stella elicits oohs and awwwwss and kawaiis and cheek pinches as the other passengers file on. We wile away the hours trundling up and down the aisles, waving at the passengers while stretching our legs. We get extra pillows and a pile of blankets. Our meals are often served first and a flight attendant might offer to hold Stella while I eat. Then they give us an extra ice cream as a special treat. As we pace back and forth in the galley, I’m anxious to stay out from underfoot. The flight attendants play peek-a-boo, hiding behind the curtain, and then hand Stella a little wooden airplane. One flight attendant asks what Stella’s favorite animal is. She makes Stella a cat puppet out of a little paper cup and says meow, meow.  

 

  Photo 3

 

The New York Times paints an entirely different picture of flying with family in an article in the Sunday Times. Miserly flight attendants denying milk to toddlers, children seated rows and rows away from their parents, surly passengers, side-eying children as they stretch their legs in the aisles have taken the place of pre-boarding, colouring books, and guided tours of the cockpit, says the Times.

 

So why is it, then, after all these miles we’ve logged, that my experience with flying does not echo the miserable ordeal portrayed in the times? Simple. I don’t fly with American carriers. 

 The real story here isn’t that flying with kids is awful. The story, actually, is that American carriers are awful, regardless of wether or not there are kids involved. I don’t need to catalogue the sundry ways in which American airlines make flying about as painful and expensive as a root canal. You all know about being charged for drinks, being denied pillows, being snapped at by flight attendants. It is no surprise, then, that when there are kids involved, these examples of piss-poor service are simply extended towards the tiny passengers. It’s just the way they do business.

 

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Flying with Kids Is Less Terrible Than You Think

Stella first boarded an airplane when she was 10 weeks old. Since then, she’s visited three continents. She’s been on 12 transcontinental trips, and flown at least 36 individual flight segments. With the exception of her first flight which featured a colic attack at 33000 ft. and a shitastrophe over the Rockies, none of these flights have been terrible. Long, wakeful, and boring, yes. But not terrible. 

 

  Photo 2

We board early while a flight attendant helpfully lifts my carry on bag into the overhead bin. Stella elicits oohs and awwwwss and kawaiis and cheek pinches as the other passengers file on. We wile away the hours trundling up and down the aisles, waving at the passengers while stretching our legs. We get extra pillows and a pile of blankets. Our meals are often served first and a flight attendant might offer to hold Stella while I eat. Then they give us an extra ice cream as a special treat. As we pace back and forth in the galley, I’m anxious to stay out from underfoot. The flight attendants play peek-a-boo, hiding behind the curtain, and then hand Stella a little wooden airplane. One flight attendant asks what Stella’s favorite animal is. She makes Stella a cat puppet out of a little paper cup and says meow, meow.  

 

  Photo 3

 

The New York Times paints an entirely different picture of flying with family in an article in the Sunday Times. Miserly flight attendants denying milk to toddlers, children seated rows and rows away from their parents, surly passengers, side-eying children as they stretch their legs in the aisles have taken the place of pre-boarding, colouring books, and guided tours of the cockpit, says the Times.

 

So why is it, then, after all these miles we’ve logged, that my experience with flying does not echo the miserable ordeal portrayed in the times? Simple. I don’t fly with American carriers. 

 The real story here isn’t that flying with kids is awful. The story, actually, is that American carriers are awful, regardless of wether or not there are kids involved. I don’t need to catalogue the sundry ways in which American airlines make flying about as painful and expensive as a root canal. You all know about being charged for drinks, being denied pillows, being snapped at by flight attendants. It is no surprise, then, that when there are kids involved, these examples of piss-poor service are simply extended towards the tiny passengers. It’s just the way they do business.

 

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Is Attachment Parenting Even Possible With Number Two?

So, Internet, once again I look to you for validation and the answers to my parenting queries. This time it's about Attachment Parenting. 

 

I'm wondering, is the AP approach even possible for the second kid. (PLEASE NOTE I AM TALKING ABOUT THE HYPOTHETICAL SECOND KID. NOT THE ACTUAL GESTATING SECOND KID BECAUSE IF THERE IS ONE THING THAT SCARES MORE THAN VAMPIRES AND MURDERY BOB CATS, ITS THE IDEA OF A SECOND KID.)

After roughly 14 months of attachment parenting and  14 months of not sleeping, I kind of hate Dr. Sears. A few months ago, I kinda quit the whole AP club. It's a work in progress. I'm slowly tapering. But my hope is to be free and clear, librearted from the AP fold very soon. 

 

Ages ago, when Stella was just a wee pup, I read Erica Jong's piece in the WSJ trumpeting the demerits of the AP way. I thought, this Jong person, what the hell does she know? She only had one kid! She's obviously just a selfish jerk! Well, turns out, surprise surprise, upon rereading her piece 18 months into this whole parenting gig, I'm inclined to agree with many of her arguments.

 

Jong's overarching thesis is that Attachment Parenting harms women. While don't necessarily buy into the political side of her argument - Jong argues that attachment parenting is anti-feminist and a potential tool of the political right - she does make a few substantive points. Mainly that attachment parenting and the broader issue of materphilia sideline women and elevate their progeny to the status of unknowing little dictators, who reign over every aspect of their mothers' lives, curtailing their freedoms and usurping their identity. 

I don't know WHAT sort of Machiavellian plan the Dr. Sears and his AP army have up their collective sleeve, or why they like to remind new and fragile parents, ever so gently of course, about the dangers of crying and the risk of giving your baby a broken brain. But I do know that I kind of want to punch them in the face. Figuratively of course. 

 

Let me explain. Stella cried a lot. She had colic, so that was a solid 4 hours of crying right there. And so of course I go from OMG my baby has colic to OMG SHE IS GOING TO HAVE A CARDIAC ARRHYTHMIA AND ITS MY FAULT BECAUSE SO MUCH CRYING via The Baby Book and Attachment Parenting International. So, anyway, my acute crying phobia lead me to pick up my kid the moment she peeped. To respond to her before she even had a second to whimper. To turn off the stove, stop dinner, and cuddle on demand. 

 

Now that was all fine and dandy, until she expected that kind of response time in the middle of the night. Every hour. Or at all times of the day. Even though she's almost a year and a half. Remember how she won't play by herself? I probably blame Dr. Sears for that as well.

 

Which brings me back to the very hypothetical second child. If I were to have a second child, and if I were to respond to said second child as quickly as I do (and did) to Stella, I would end up in some kind of crazy space-time-continuum wormhole. Because it would be impossible. Having a second kid necessitates a certain degree of disregarded unattended wah wahs. Or so I assume. If you have simultaneous criers, one of them is going to be ignored. It's pretty much science. 

 

So, jerks like Dr. Sears et. all who make me feel like a villainous rogue for expecting my kid to get a reasonable amount of sleep or leaving my kid to cry for five minutes while I do the dishes can just shut their front covers because whateverthelll, you have no idea. 

 

I'm continuing to work through the process of becoming an ex-attachment parent. I'm in Attachment Parenting recovery. And I'm wondering, Internetland, do you attachment parent? Do you have a second child? Are you crushed buy the burdens of AP anti-feminism? Or are you happy and self secure in your hippie fairy dust parenting practices? 

 

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The Most Monumentally Stupid Idea I've Ever Had

So, much to my chagrin, my child will not play by herself. This is a problem insomuch as I need to do things like cook meals, wash dishes, and dress myself. A maximum of about two minutes of solitary play is all she's got in her, and those two minutes are either spent furiously emptying the contents of her drawers, or else removing all the cups and glasses from the kitchen and placing them in my bed. Obviously.

When I happened upon a little corner of the blogoverse dedicated to at home toddler preschool, I thought to myself, THIS is the answer! My child is bored. She needs more stimulation! She needs better, more enriching activities. She needs Montessori fairy dust! I just need to implement a bunch of these activities, and voila! I'll have an independent, happy, and busy baby! I did some reading on the sensory bin, and thought YES! I will do this.

And so then, lacking a bin, or sufficient quantities of dried pasta, I put some unused (expensive!) pasta in a metal bowl and then this happened, for about five whole minutes which was pretty much a record as far as mummy-free playtime is concerned: 

Sensory Bin Gone All To Hell Do not even ask about the bike helmet. I don't understand either.


Later, I read about the concept of rice sensory bins. Just take a bin, add some rice, throw in a couple of scoops and TA DA! You've got a indoor sandbox! Foolishly, I bought into this nonsense.

No fewer than two minutes in, this was the result:

RIce Sensory Bin Gone WrongApproximately 70% of my living room and kitchen looked like this.

From here on in, we're going to be rethinking baby entertainment options. Sensory bins are out. But if you have any suggestions, I'D LOVE TO HEAR THEM. 

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Woe is Bathtime

Stella has always loved the water. When she was a newborn in the NICU, she was given her first bath by the nurses. I wasn’t there, so they took pictures for me. They told me that Stella smiled. When we’ve taken her to the beach, we’ve had to work pretty hard to prevent this little fishie from swimming out to sea.

 

But all of this changed when I decided to be THE FUN MUM who gives bubble baths. You guys, I’ve traumatized my kid for life. With bubbles. 

 

  IMG_0949

Last week, Stella needed an exceptional post-nap bath (can you guess why???? Starts with a p and ends with an oop), and I thought, hey, your hair doesn’t need washing, therefore BUBBLES! Big mistake. She was terrified. Of bubbles. I put her in the water and she screamed and screamed and would not sit down, so I took her out and showered her and she also screamed about that. Obviously. 

  IMG_1185

Same thing for the next several baths (though, I nixed the soap bubbles pretty quickly, let me tell you), but add to the screaming some fierce pre-bath clinging and terrified baby face and abject refusal to have a hair washing.

Oh dear.

What have I done.

 

Bathtime is now a horror show. It’s awful. Stella hates it, and is obviously scared verging on a panic attack, and I hate it because MAH BAYBEEEE! SHE SCARWED! AND CRWYING! POOWR POOWR BAYBEEEE!

 

I would totally have no problem with going bathless for like, four days to see if this whole thing blows over, BUT the problem is food. It gets in the hair. After one meal, those precious ringlets are trending towards dreadlock, enhanced with baby goo.

 

So, basically, at this stage, I’m seriously considering insisting that Stella wear a shower cap or some other type of protective head covering during meal times. Protective dinner bonnet? Teflon tuque? What to do?

 

(UPDATED TO ADD: Mr. Chef did bath time tonight. And it was no big deal. Stella didn’t even cry for the hair washing. Of course she didn’t. Of course. To whom should I address my letter of resignation?)

IMG_1184

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Previously On Not Sleeping Through The Night

Alright, people, the story of getting baby S to sleep is a long and painful one. My obsession with sleep troubles started long ago, somewhere around the 10 day mark when it became apparent that Stella was not a sleeper. But we’re not flashing back that far, and I certainly won’t revisit the fact that she used to wake up MORE THAN 12 times per night, and at one point would wake screaming like a banshee every 20 minutes between the hours of 7 PM and midnight.*

(*see how I just threw that little chestnut in there so that you’d be fully cognizant of the fact that I’ve been through the wars, thereby justifying my foray into sleep training, assuaging my hippy guilt while also demonstrating my extreme patience and general saintliness?)

No, no, this little recap will only highlight where we were before we started sleep training. So, let’s revisit where we were about three weeks ago: 

 

Previously, On Sleeping Through The Night: (dramatic music here)

 

  • Stella was a part-time bed-sharer, part-time pack-n-play master-bedroom roommate. 
  • She woke up between 4 and 6 times per night to nurse
  • She was awake for long periods of time, particularly after 3 AM. Which meant so was I. And this was sub-ideal. A lot
  • She cried and cried and cried before falling asleep, no matter what I did

So. Basically, our sleeping situation was sub-idea. And we decided that finally, it was really really really time to get serious on sleep’s ass and make it happen. Although I was ambivalent about sleep training (to say the least), and was sad to put an end to co-sleeping, it was apparent that Stella thought of our bed as a playground and not as a sleeping place. So, bye-bye co sleeping. But before I get ahead of myself, I’ll outline what we did on PEZM (Project Ending Zombie Moms):

 

Stage 1 - Git In YER BED!

 

  • I set up a cot in Stella’s room, and determined that she would sleep in her own bed, so help me Easter Bunny, no matter what. 
  • And she did. And it was no biggie. Turns out, she slept waaaaayyyyy better in her own bed.

 

Stage Two - Night Night Milkies 

 

  • I night weened. In one night. Bandaid --> riiiiiiiiiiiiiiipp
  • Mr. Chef took over nighttime parenting duties, sleeping in Stella’s room all night and I bed-shared with a my earplugs. And slept for eight hours in a row for the first time in about two years. Oh my
  • Stella work up 11 times the first night, but didn’t cry once
  • Night two it was down to 4 times. Still no tears
  • By night four, there were two wakeups. Still tear free
  • Then we did a little experiment wherein I took over nighttime duties, and it was an all out scream-a-thon, so me and my earplugs went back to our own room. 
  • Mr. Chef continued to be the baby whisperer, and Stella continues NOT TO CRY while he’s around.

 

Stage Three - Pending

  1. Stella is now Sleeping from about 7 PM until 3 or 4 AM ALONE! IN HER OWN BED! 
  2. She’s WAKING UP ONLY ONCE!!!!!
  3. Mr. Chef continues to sleep in her room from about 3 or 4 am until she’s up in the morning, somewhere around 6:30, but in the next few days, he’s going to start transitioning to sleeping full-time in our room. 

 

So. Stella is sleeping much better. The transition was not NEARLY as painful as I had thought. I’m routinely getting stretches of 6 hours of sleep. I can stay up till 11 and not feel like I have malaria. I can do things! And play babies for a long time! Basically, it’s a win-win-win situation: I sleep so soundly, I don’t even her Stella wake up (win!) Stella still gets to wake in the night the way she likes to (win!), and Mr. Chef gets to spend extra time with his daughter(WIIIIIIIIINN!) See? Win-win-win! (Right, Mr. Chef???? RIGHT??? You love this arrangement, RIGHT?)

IMG_6020


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I Can Not Haz Smartness

Oh, um, hey, internet. What’s up. 

 

So. Confession. I feel like I should be writing some supersmart and informative expat-based posts about life as a new parent in Japan. But mostly, for the past seven or 10 days my every conscious moment has been consumed with a a heavy stream of WAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAHHHHHHA! HAAAATTTEEE! WAHAHAHAHHA! Ergo, I can not haz smartness. 

HOWEVER, if you would happen to be in the mood for some expat-based parenting screenwords, might I direct your attention to Surviving in Japan, where I wrote a guest post on having a baby in Japan.

Now, for any of you still hanging around here (sorry), I have a big present for you: a dramatic recreation of how things have been going ‘round my place*:

 

Example 1, or I Have To Do Basic Things That Are Not Holding a Baby:

 

Me: Stella, can you please play with your toys for ten minutes while I wash the breakfast dishes?

 

Stella: OMGHHHHZZZZ!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I WILL MOST CERTAINLY NOT DO THAT! RATHER I WILL SCREAM AND CRY AND HIT YOU AND HANG OFF YOU AND GGGGHAHAHAHA HATE THE WORLD IS AN AWEFUL PLACE!

 

as compares to....

 

Mr. Chef: Stella, I’m going to wash the dishes now.

Stella: Cool. I’ll just be over here brushing the cat, okay?

 

Example 2, or Every Time We Go Out of the Apartment:

Me: Stella, you need to sit in your stroller now. 

Stella: NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! WAHAHAHAHAHAHA. *we enter elevator* WAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!! *flails tiny body around, accidentally kicks old lady* WWWWHWHWHWHWHWHAAAAAATE WAHAHA! *goes limp and slides out of stroller into a crumpled mess of screaming baby on the floor* WWWWHWHWHWHLOUDESTSCREAMEVER!!!! *struggle to exit elevator* WHHWAHAHAHAHAHAHH! *finally buckled into stroller* WHWHWHWHWHWHWAAAAAA! *hits head with tiny ragefull fists*

 

And again, this compares rather unfavourable to the scene below: 

 

Mr. Chef: Stella, you sit in your stroller.

Stella: I don’t really want to, but well, I guess that’s life. You don’t always get what you want. Anyway. Sucks. But I’ll deal.

 

Example 3, or Every Night of My Life:

Me: Stella, good night. I love you very much. Sleep well. *puts 99% asleep baby in crib*

Stella: WWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! THIS IS TERRIBLE! YOU ARE THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD *stops screaming momentarily to look at me, directly in the eye, with a glare full of hatred and betrayal* HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME. WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (Continue at maximum scream for 20-90 minutes.)

 

 Finally, I think you're understanding the theme:

 

Mr. Chef: Good night Stella, sleep well.

Stella: Okay. Night. *lies down in bed*. Oh, Pops, I hate going to bed, so would it be okay if you just sit on that chair while I twirl my hair and fall asleep? Okay, thanks. It’ll only take ten minuets. And don’t worry, I won’t cry at all. 

 

So, basically, I’m winning at parenting these days. You can congratulate me on my success in the comments. 

 

*You might need to know that this has been almost entirely lifted from an email that I sent to my internet pen pal / mirror me. But I also feel that it is perfectly within the bounds of acceptability for me to plagiarize from myself. So, whatever.

 

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(More) Not Sleeping Through The Night

Because you're dying to hear more about my travails in sleeplessness (it is a topic of infinite interest, after all, and I do write about being tired with such eloquence and nuance), I thought I'd just stop on over on a Sunday night and let you know what is happening in the Expatria, Baby household. We are still not sleeping through the night. But...there is more sleeping than there used to be:

  • Night 1 Stella woke up 11 times
  • Night 2 Stella woke up 3 times
  • There were no tears (except at bedtime). There are always tears at bedtime
  • I slept for 8 hours straight
  • Mr. Chef did not
  • Mr. Chef slept in the baby room
  • I did not
  • I am really effing lucky
  • I heart earplugs. A lot. 
  • Mr. Chef is the baby whisperer. I will hire him out, but he costs many, many dollars. Well, yen. Since the dollar is currently a piss-poor excuse for currency

You are welcome. You may now return to your regularly scheduled Sunday. 

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On (Still) Not Sleeping Through The Night

Not Sleeping Through The Night 14 months

I just folded up the pack-n-play and moved it out of my bedroom, and with that, I’m committing to Project End Zombie Motherhood (PEZM). I’m tired of being a tired mother. I'm tired of waking up four, five, six times per night. I'm tired of feeling like a zombie. And we’re about to get serious on sleep’s ass. 

Okay....so before you all get your tie-died nickers in a twist and start with the “but oh, babies are only babies for a short time and they should cuddle in your bed and puppy dogs and rainbows and and soft hemp sheets” let me tell you that you probably don’t appreciate the difference between not sleeping through the night (waking up once or twice for a quick feed) and NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT (waking up 4-6 times and being AWAKE! for half an hour each time.) Its like living in a perpetual state of newborndoom for fourteen months. NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT for 14 months is really really really terrible. Let me assure you of that. Something’s gotta give. And that something is sleep.

Trust me. I’ve had a lot of ambivalent feelings about sleep training. I'm a card-carrying AP mother (cloth diapering, home-made baby food, baby wearing etc. etc. etc.). We did the family bed till one year. Then co-sleeping with the pack-n-play in our room when it became evident that Stella sleeps better in her own space. And I’ve read every Dr. Sears book out there. And I subscribe to Attachment Parenting International (although that’s probably some kind of masochism because their e-mails and articles serve no purpose other than making me feel like a crappy parent. But that’s a whole other post for a whole other day.) And I know that by letting my child cry, I’m causing her brain damage, teaching her the the world is a fundamentally untrustworthy place and probably setting her on the road to attachment disorder and blah blah blah. 

But we’ve tried a lot of things. And those things haven’t worked. So. Onward, PEMZ.

What I’ve come to realize is that most days, I’m so tired that I can’t keep organized. I can’t think normal thoughts. Cooking dinner becomes a challenge of epic proportions. NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT for 14 months means I can’t function properly. Can’t summon the energy to play babies for more than five minutes at a time. So. We’re doing this thing. Fore everyone’s benefit. Bye bye NOT SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT. Bye bye Zombie Mother.

And here’s the plan so far:

Stage 1 - Git in ur rooooommmm! (Currently underway)

  • Stella will be sleeping in her room. In her own crib. The whole night through.
  • She naps well in her crib already, so this shouldn't be a biggie.
  • We have a cot in her nursery as well, so if she needs a parent in her room, we can accommodate that.
  • Wake ups will be responded to, but not the moment she peeps. We’ll give her a few moments, but if she’s escalating, we’ll go get her.
  • Nighttime nursing will continue on demand as normal. 

Stage 2 - All night on your own (Beginning Tonight)

  • As above, but when she falls asleep, the parent will sneak back into the bedroom.

Stage 3 - Night Night, Milkies

  • No more nursing at night. Last orders are at 11 pm. Bar re-opens at 6:30.

Stage 4 -  Lose My Ever Loving Mind Because I Don’t Know How We’re Going To Make It Trough These Nights And I Don’t Know What Our Strategy Will Be (Coincides with Stage 3) 

  • I have no idea what we’re doing
  • Someone help me
  • Oh gawd
  • Brain aneurysm
  • I need coffee
  • Hell
  • Ballz
  • Wah
  • {halp}

 

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Small Style, Bike Style

It's no secret, Stella and I love our bike. It takes us everywhere: little jaunts downtown for a girls only lunch; quick trips to the grocery store; errands to the fruit and veg man, where we load our basket with summer produce; quiet little seaside adventures; and off piste escapades wherein we pretend that we areEwan McGregor and Charlie Booreman riding the Road of Bones.  

The one problem with the bike-as-minivan setup is that it does not have surrounding walls to insulate the outside environment from Stella's migraine-inducing screams of protest. Nor does it protect me from judgemental stares. I'm that mother. The one with the screaming kid. Think teen-aged girl, 1964, Beatles in America only angry. Really really angry.

Every trip out, be it a 120 minute downtown shopping extravaganza or a 15 minute trip to the bakery and back seems to end in screams. As soon as I'm heading home, Stella decides MUST NURSE NOW, and although I do have some mad breastfeeding skillz, I have yet to figure out exactly how to offer milkies on the bike. Suggestions anyone?

Anyway. Screams! And bike fashion! For Mama Loves Papa's Small Style!

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Unwilling solo-walker makes fashion photography difficult

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Wut? Doesn't EVERYONE take pictures of themselves while on two wheels?

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Stop number one on three-errand outing. Pre-screams

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Stella wore:

Dress - Gifted from A lovely and dear friend / mama mentor (also: floral ruffles are totally a prerequisite for playing pretend Long Way Round Road of Bones Edition)

Helmet - Crazy Stuff (Selected with care by me for the fact that it is both pink and red and thus is the perfect piece for tying our red bike nicely into Stella's outfits)

Shoes - See Kai Run (the only ones we've been wearing all summer holla cheapo mama!)

 

In other news - SHAMELESS LOG ROLLING - I'm participating in a blogging project that I'm super thrilled to be part of, a monthly four-way guest blogging initiative about life as an expat. 'Twould tickle me pink if you'd go have a look.  

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Small Style, Sickie Style

Today's Small Style post is probably more aptly titled No Style. Stella is sick. Therefore, onsies, diapers, and the return of the cloth diaper barf rag. We have’t seen that stylish accessory for about eight months. You always knew it would come back into style. Vintage, you know. 

So, sorry Small Stylers, nothing much in the way of cute outfits going on here. However, I'm quite sure that at Mama Loves Papa, there will be many wonderful stylish babies, so head over there and go get your fix.

For the past three days we've been awash in a febrile sea of vomit and missed naps. We've been locked inside for three days straight with only a FUN! and EXCITING! trip to the doctor's office this morning to offer any form of distraction. 

However, Stella is a remarkably good sick baby, and only whines when I'm not holding her, or not playing babies to her exacting standards, though her failure to verbalize exactly what these standards are is only slightly frustrating to me. So, this August vom-a-thon actually has its upsides:

  • Sick babies snuggle, and as the snuggly mother of an un-snuggly baby, I truly appreciate this little development 
  • Sick babies also kiss their mothers a lot (see point above)
  • This sick baby actually slept at night, and OH MY WORD did that feel good. Seriously. I think I got 5 hours straight up sleep last night, which is the longest stretch of sleep I've had in over 14 months. By about 3 hours. Amazballs.
  • This sick baby has also slept in until 8:30 two days in a row! Sleeping babies HOLLA!
  • This sick baby also took a 2.5 hour nap for the first time ever. It only happened once, but boy was it good.
  • This sick baby watches TV with her Muma. I've temporarily rescinded the No TV for Babies Rule and put on Yo Gabba Gabba (which I’d never had the misfortune of watching up to this point), and  and oh be still my heart, if my child didn't take one look at the clamoring neon tawdry drivel coming out of the TV and look at me with side-eyes and say, WHAT THE HELL, MUMA? This is AWEFUL. And so we put on Jamie Oliver and we were both happy. This child. Oh, how she makes me happy.

So, anyway, here's our unstylish Small Style!

Babies 1
 Babies, ur doin it wrong. 

Babies 2
Swaddling a baby in a cloth diaper / (clean for now) barf  rag. We then went on to attempt to swaddle the big, human baby. Which was, predictably, a resounding failure.

Babies 3
Couch snuggles


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Sickie smiles

Stella Wore:

Oliers Onsie - Gifted by my sister as an offering to Mr. Chef, who has an unhealthy love of hockey and the Edmonton Oilers

Other Onsie - American Apparel (BTW, Stella has like 3 shirts from AA, and they are holding up really well, and STILL fitting long after they should have been out grown.) 


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Public Boobies (I hate them)

I’m going to say something a little controversial here: I hate breastfeeding in public. There, I said it. But let me back up a bit. I hate public nursing as a thing I have to do. I fully support other people and their public boobies.

I love breastfeeding in general. It is natural, and healthy, and bla bla benefits for the baby bla. Stella is 14months old, and still nursing like a champ. But I really love breastfeeding because IT ISFREEEEEEEEEEE! And I’m loath to spend money on something (i.e. formula) when there is a better, cheaper (freer) option. Second reason I love breastfeeding: it is the lazyman’s way. Wash bottles and mix formula? Punch me in the throat because I’d like that better. Third reason I like breastfeeding: I eat like a hungry trucker man, and still don’t gain weight. And now that I’m back in Japan where snack options are few and less delicious (oh, falafel chips...*sigh*), I’m actually having trouble maintaining my weight. You can hate me. It is okay.

But still. I hate breastfeeding in public. Not because I think that it is gross, or sexual or anything weird. I mean, since having a child, my shame-o-meter is pretty much set to zero. It is just that stories like this have me convinced that when I do nurse my baby in public everyone is looking at me, and thinking boobies, gross. 

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Wut. That's the best I got. 'Memeber how I don't like doing it in public?

The fact that I live in Japan (which is admittedly pretty breastfeeding friendly), and am a tall white woman who already attracts enough negative bumbling foreigner attention, compounds the anxiety (as in, what is normal practice re. boobies in Japan? Will I be that weird foreigner if I nurse here? OMG, crying baby....what do I dooooooo?) Still, I nurse in public. Because what else could I do? I like to leave my house. My daughter wants to nurse ALL THE TIME, so. I nurse in public. Let me count the ways:

 

  • On the airplane (it’s pretty much boob in mouth about 70 percent of the seated time)
  • In the car while moving with the baby still strapped safely in her car seat. (I am also a contortionist, in case you didn’t know)
  • On a train
  • In a boat. While driving. In torrential rain
  • In many a restaurant, where I may or may not have dropped ramen on my girl’s head
  • In the middle of my german lesson, about a million times
  • Walking down the street, baby in mei tai
  • In the park with a seven-day-old baby (this particular nursing session was interrupted by two Japanese grandmothers who walked right over to me, lifted my nursing cover so that they could more easily admire the cuteness that is a foreign baby. That was not awkward AT ALL)

So, yes, I hate nursing in public. But I do it any way. Because the benefits outweigh my anxiety. And, truth be told, the worst thing that has ever happened re. feeding in public has been an awkward “avert eyes...boobies...omg..don’t look!) More often people smile kindly. And I’m glad of that, for it means that acceptance of public boobies is the norm and public-nursing-phobic a-holes are the exception.  

***

 

 

***

celebrate-wbw-npn-450

I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

 

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Back in The Saddle Again

Pssssttt...EVERYONE, It's quarter to six in the morning and my baby girl is asleep! Oh my! We've been back in Japan for about thirty-six hours and Stella is sleeping! At appropriate times! Hooray!

With the exception of an hour and a half in the middle of the night wherein we were up and watching Mad Men and practicing standing on our own Stella slept pretty normally last night (where sleeping normally is waking at least every two hours to nurse). I am amazed. And thrilled. 

I would like to take full credit for this nocturnal coup, counting my delft parenting skillz as the reason that she is now dozing peacefully in my bed while my husband it banished to the cot in Stella's room. I mean, after all, I did insist that she sleep on the plane, and invested considerable effort in ensuring that she get some zzzz remaining immobile at all costs, sleeping baby on lap compressing spinal column, sciatic pain be dammed. But, I am fully aware that this sleepytime-funtime is a total fluke. Whatever. I'm enjoying it to the full. Drinking my coffee. Catching up on my mail. Communing with the interwebz of fastness, which is, like totally, my favourite thing about Japan.

In other news. Stella officially has a first word: THIS (or sometimes IS THIS). Not mama; not papi; not even baby. This. Fine. Whatever. My feelings aren't hurt at all. 

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Baby Jet Lag

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Baby's first trip on the A380.

NOT SLEEP PROBLEMS AGAIN! 

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably started to bang your head against you keyboard just to relieve the sheer tedium, because every second post on Expatria Baby details, with despondence and self pity, the many and sundry ways in which I do not get enough sleep. 

But before you navigate away from this page, hear this: I am writing in the spirit of optimism and I bring you the lessons that I have learned from a year of jumping across eight or fourteen timezones ever six weeks.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Sleeplessness

 Having realistic expectations is crucial for surviving baby jet lag. Think of baby jet lag as a nice little trip down memory lane: lucky you! You get to revisit the nighttimes of newborn hood. 

  • There will be a lot of, “wut? I slept two hours in a row. What more do you want from me?” And a little, “it’s 3:30 AM, so WAAAAAHHHHH! WAAAAAHHH! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!”  Just resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to be awake a lot and then figure out strategies to deal.  
  • The first night will go relatively smoothly; your baby will be tired from the trip and will allow you to get a few consecutive hours of sleep
  • Nights two and three will be torture. You won’t have slept on the plane and you’ll be so tired that you will feel like vomiting
  • On the fourth night things will finally start to improve, but expect jet lag to continue for at least a week, or more likely two (especially on the return trip).

IMG_0424Baby sleeping on top of Japan

 

So You’re Leaving On A Jet Plane With Your Baby

You’ll read about adjusting your clock twenty minutes each night before your departure, and making sure that you maintian your typical bedtime routine, but that is total BS and does make one lick of difference. There’s actually very little that you can do to prepare, except for this:

  • Make a huge deposit in your sleep bank in the days leading up to your trip. Get as much sleep as you can. Go to bed early. Nap. Have your partner look after the baby in the mornings so you can get an additional thirty minutes of sleep. Trust me, being over-tired prior to the trip will cause baby jet lag to feel about as terrible as coming off heroin*.

 

*I’ve never come off heroin before, so think of this more as a literary flourish and less as representation of reality. 

IMG_0622Sunset and wing. At least it's pretty when we're awake. 

Up In the Air 

Again, there’s not much you can do to help prevent baby jet lag en route; baby jet lag is going to happen. But here’s what you can do to help yourself feel like you're doing something.

  • Encourage your baby to sleep as much as possible: be boring; do low-energy things; avoid making friends with the rambunctious four-year-old Korean girl behind you; keep bright lights and screens turned off; and never under any circumstances shift position while your baby is sleeping. Otherwise, AWAAAAAAAKKKKE! 
  • If you are breastfeeding, drink lots of water. You’ll be a pee-pee machine but you’ll also not be dehydrated. And you'll need that hydration to continue being a milky cow. (Fun fact, in addition to messing with your sleep schedule, jet leg messes up your milk production schedule.)

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Baby AWAKE over the pacific. 

 

Final Destination

The key here is getting enough rest, at whatever time that may be. Fight for as much good quality sleep as possible in a bed (i.e. not a car seat or stroller or other random place) because being overtired will only serve to exacerbate  baby jet lag. DO NOT be tempted to keep the baby awake so she’ll “sleep at night”. Ha! You’ll only set yourself up for a, all night scream-a-thon. 

  • Switch to the local timezone immediately, and help re-set your baby’s time clock by offering food, milk, naps at the appropriate hour in the new timezone. 
  • If you can, wait until you arrive at your final destination before putting your baby down for a nap and / or bed. I’ve resorted to repeatedly hitting myself on the head to keep my girl laughing until we arrived home and she could sleep. Trust me, it’s totally worth the effort and your sanity will thank you. 
  • Keep naptimes about the same length or just a little longer as they would be at home. DO NOT let your kid sleep for hours in a row, tempting as silence may be...
  • If you arrive in the daytime or evening, get outside for a little natural light. A good little tool for calculating the best times to get daylight is here. Natural light is the best medicine in combatting baby jet lag.

  IMG_0618

Sleeping over Russia.

 

How To Cope At Four AM - The First Three Nights

Try as you might to resist baby jet lag, your kid’s sleep schedule is going to be effed, and there’s not much you can do about it save for maintaing your sanity. My rule is that anything goes for the first three nights. After that, you’re on your own, baby (just kidding, but I am a little less sympathetic to midnight play sessions after night three or four.) Here are my tips for preservation of mental health: 

  • Disregard typical rules combatting jet lag. Sleep when the baby sleeps. And that includes taking naps. You’ll need the extra ZZZZZZZZs to avoid jumping out the window at four am with your kid JUST. WONT. SLEEP. HOLY. EFFING. BALLS.
  • For the first three nights, do anything to get your kid to sleep. Nurse to sleep. Rock to sleep. Co-sleep to sleep. Pace around the house while listening to podcasts to sleep. Whatever it takes. Do it. Sleep begets sleep and over-tiredness begets screams. 
  • As soon as your baby falls asleep, go to bed too. In the first few days, sleep is a precious commodity. Don’t waste it. 
  • Your baby may be anxious about being in an unfamiliar cirb or strange room. I often put a blanket on the floor and snooze there until baby falls asleep. (This is the lazy man's way of dealing with middle of the night wake ups.)
  • During night wakings, bring baby into bed with you and play for a while, keeping lights low, and activity levels quiet. She’ll probably be up for a few hours, but if you can get her to look at books and play quietly while you doze, then you win. 
  • If your darling babe wakes up at four am raring to go, consider just getting up and starting your day a few hours early. Once you’ve had your coffee, it won’t be so bad. 

 

A Few Hacks

Here are a final few tips that I’ve learnt in my year of living bi-continentally:

  • It’s not only sleep schedules that get thrown off: poop schedules get all crazy like. So if your 11 AM pooper is obviously tired but not settling, check the dipe. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. (See undetected poop explosion.) 
  • Homeopathic remedies CAN help sleep SOMETIMES. You have to do a fair amount of research and find the remedy that fits your child’s sleep symptoms exactly, though.
  • If you’re crossing multiple timezones, DO NOT plan a vacation that is less than two weeks. You’ll need the second week to recover from the sleep problems of the first.
  • Twitter is very entertaining at 3 AM and sympathetic to exhausted parents. 

 

And there you have it. Baby jet lag is quite terrible. But if you’ve made it through newborn-hood, you can totally handle even the worst case of baby jet lag. Happy travels and sweet dreams! 

 

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