Parents “waste” a load of time putting kids to sleep

Huffington Post published an article about the amount of time parents “waste” on bedtime routines yesterday. It’s super timely for us, considering our recent struggles.

While it’s timely, the results of the study they cited, which was done by toothbrush company Firefly, are not surprising at all.

Apparently, “moms and dads spend an average of 140 hours a year trying to get their child to sleep, which works out to nearly 18 full workdays.” That is a significant amount of time out of your year. For older children, yes, this sounds pretty accurate. For younger ones and toddlers with sleep issues, I’m sure it’s much higher.

If I do the math correctly, hubs and I have probably spent 100+ hours trying to get E to bed just since the beginning of June!

‘Sleep training: Round 1000’ started last night and was executed entirely by A, while I locked myself away with headphones on, as I am no match for my child’s tortured wails.

What does your child’s bedtime routine look like? And how long does it usually take?

xo

Coco

 

The news: talking to your kids about it

Heartbreaking. There’s no other way to describe current affairs.

Maybe it has always been this way and I wasn’t paying attention. It’s cyclical – the good, the bad, the happy, the sad. I can’t seem to wrap my head around it all.

How? Why?

And then, all I can think about is protecting my little one.

My parents watched the news every night when I was younger. I asked a lot of questions, and they were empathetic and careful, but honest. I remember feeling the same way then, as I do now. Helpless, bewildered, heartbroken.

I’m, luckily, not at the stage yet where EJ understands what’s going on or is asking questions, and I hope to protect him from it as long as possible, but at some point, I will have to talk to him about all the hatred, hurt, and pain in the world. I will hold his hand and answer his questions when he too feels helpless, bewildered and sad. But, I am still hopeful that change can happen and maybe by the time he’s old enough, humanity will come around.

If you’re wondering whether to, or how to, talk to your kids about the violence, disasters, and tragedies we hear about daily, this article in The Globe and Mail might help.

Thinking of all those who are lost, all those who have lost, and all those who are hanging on tonight. Sending peaceful and loving thoughts out into the universe and hope you are too – maybe there is power in numbers and the collective conscience…

Maybe we can actually be the change.

xo

Coco

Adventures of EJ, the travelling toddler: Exploring Ontario & PEI

Before I met my husband, travel was a major part of my life. With settling down and growing up, we don’t get to travel nearly as much as I’d like. Having said that, the experiences and lessons learned through travel are so valuable and something I want EJ to embrace, so we try to make it a priority whenever possible. So, packing one adventure on top of the other this summer, our little EJ is well on his way to becoming one well-travelled little boy.

It feels like summer disappeared slowly and seamlessly, like water flowing downstream. We were busy and didn’t get to see as much of our family or friends as we’d like, but we made so many memories.

From camping trips and overnight visits across Ontario – adventures on Lake Huron to Restoule Lake, all the way to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and most recently, Dominican Republic (stay tuned for more on that trip), we took EJ on a load of mini adventures this summer.

Camping (in our tent trailer) at Restoule Lake Provincial Park over Canada Day weekend was fantastic. We were at Bells Point campground and had a spot with a little path (albeit a bit steep for a toddler) right to the water. We didn’t have to drive to the boat launch to put the canoe in the water and it made it so easy to get Emerson and our stuff into the canoe for fishing or canoeing over to the beach. It had rained endlessly for our first two days and although the campground was packed and flooded in some spots, there were so many puddles that just made it so much more fun for us. EJ had his rain suit and rain boots and I’m pretty sure his favourite part was jumping in puddles and eating a s’more for the first time.

EJ S'mores
EJ loving his first s’mores experience.

I am so glad that I brought our Ergo Baby for evening walks and a serious 5k hike to the fire tower (wear hiking boots!). It helped him fall asleep easily if we were on the go, and I counted it as a major workout for me. If you are doing the hike with a little one – make sure you’re not going after a big rain fall, like we did – there are some steep drops and steep climbs that we had to do and it was really challenging in deep mud, carrying a 28lb baby, while wearing the wrong shoes! I almost took a steep tumble down a rocky spot with EJ strapped in sleepily and my beige pumas, with no tread, were heavily covered in muck and mire.

Canoeing with EJ was a dream as well, he kept his life jacket on, was fascinated and calmed by the water, and loved seeing the fish.

A month after our long weekend getaway, my mom and I took EJ to visit my friend and her boys in PEI. We flew to St. John, NB, rented a car and drove to PEI (and all over PEI).

On route, we stopped at the Hopewell Rocks (AKA the flower pots) at Fundy National Park on our way (thanks to the free Parks Canada Discovery Pass for Canada 150!). If you go, I recommend going at low tide and at high tide. We only went at low tide, but what an incredible experience! It was super busy, but seeing the plant life and rocks was incredible.

After a short visit there, we were off to PEI, which we fell in love with. We stayed in a little area called North Rustico for most of the trip, at the lovely Pines Motel & Cottages, which was in the perfect location, recently updated, and had such a lovely property.

EJ PEI - north rustico
EJ checking out North Rustico Harbour with his monster trucks in tow. Look at that gorgeous red sand.

We learned on our first night, while looking to buy milk for Emerson and somewhere to eat, that everything closes early, so make sure you plan to eat early if you’re going! We arrived late on a Sunday and only one of the restaurants took us in for dinner after 8:30 p.m.! We spent our time driving around the island and luckily got two nice beach days in, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the gorgeous beaches and sands of PEI.

We packed a few picnic lunches for the beaches and made most of our breakfasts in our kitchenette.

Brackley Beach, PEI
EJ discovering a crab shell at Brackley Beach, PEI

The beaches we visited (although we only swam at two of them!) were:

Basin Head Provincial Park (singing sands is well worth the trip), Brackley Beach (massive and gorgeous), Cavendish Beach, Cedar Dunes Provincial Park (loads of massive shells worth bringing home, a gorgeous black and white lighthouse with museum, and rocky shores with loads of shells worth keeping), North Rustico Beach.

Where we ate:

  • Captains Cove Cafe is a rustic spot and not what you would expect. The food was oh, so delish, and the staff were so sweet.
  • New Glasgow Lobster Suppers was such a great experience. We went based on a recommendation from my chiropractor who is from New Glasgow and used to work there. They were great with kids and EJ loved the lobster.
  • COWS creamery is a must, of course.
  • The Yellow House in North Rustico Harbour is also a lovely little spot and the sandwiches were super yummy.
  • We had such a delicious lunch at Sims Corner Steakhouse & Grill, where I tried baked oysters for the first time and Oh.Em.Gee.
  • If you’re looking for the best lobster roll or fresh lobsters, check out The Lobster Shack in Souris – a great little place to stop on route.
  • In Charlottetown, my girlfriend and I got to have a moms’ night out and we went to a couple of great little spots for drinks: Fishbones Oyster Bar & Grill and The Gahan House.

All in all, our trip was incredible and exhausting. We had decent weather for most of it, spent a lot of time in the car, and five days in PEI just wasn’t enough for the little one to acclimatize and for us to see it all.

Travelling with littles can always be daunting. I am guilty for ALWAYS packing too much, but I’d rather be over prepared than under prepared. However, after all these trips, I’ve learned a couple of things. So, here are some of my tips for travelling with a baby/toddler:

  • Have travel crib, will travel. Instead of a heavy play pen, I bought the phil&teds Traveller Portacot when EJ was 7 months, before our trip to Panama for a wedding. (Check out my unsolicited thoughts on it here). It is easy to bring, set up, and clean. I always know that he’ll sleep comfortably, wherever we go.
  • Bring home comforts, when possible. Whether it’s a stuffed animal, a blanket, or a monster truck (or five, in EJ’s case), bringing something familiar, like their favourite toy or game can help ease travel woes.
  • Bring other reinforcements. Whether it’s in the form of grandparents, extra games, crayons, or their favourite shows or movie on the iPad, or even a nanny, extra hands or activities can help distract them when you need a short break.
  • The bottle or boob might help in flight. If you can save bottle time or breastfeed during takeoff and landing, it can help ease their anxiety and the pressure in their ears.
  • Calm parents = calm babies. It may sound hokey, but little ones are so sensitive to changes in energy and if we’re anxious, angry, or stressed, it can manifest in the littles. I am totally guilty of this and I’m lucky to be aware of it. Taking deep breaths, smiling lots and playing or joking with your little one might help calm everyone down enough so they don’t scream for the entire trip.
  • Do what you must. Getting a mobile baby or toddler to sit still, in the burping position, for the entire landing/takeoff (and every time the seatbelt sign comes on) is no small feat, I won’t lie that I used a bit of bribery on our last flight. And, we allowed for a bit of screen time to distract him when he was getting wild. It helped that the poor child was exhausted, so he eventually just fell asleep.

Where have you been or where do you want to go with your littles? What are some of your family travel tips?

xo

Coco

 

 

A fave product: phil&teds Traveller crib

This crib is incredible. I bought it over a year and a half ago and EJ has used it, whenever we’re away for a night or more, since he was seven months old.

It was more than I wanted to spend on a travel cot, especially when I was on maternity leave and counting our pennies, but I’m so glad I invested in it. The portacot has been to Panama, Alberta (Red Deer and Banff), all over Ontario, and more recently to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Dominican Republic. Read about those adventures here.

The crib is so lightwight, packs into a handy carrying case that you can throw over your shoulder, and travels really well. It’s been on several flights, where I’m sure it was thrown around with heavier bags and I haven’t noticed a single dent or nik in any of the frame or legs.

Putting it together is a breeze, once you figure it out. It’s finicky to attach the mattress to the mesh sides (I wish the hooks were locking caribeners instead of plastic C hooks), but other than that, it’s quick to set up.

One side completely unzips, for easy access. This is an especially great feature for us when we’re using our trailer (a vintage Bonair tent trailer). We typically set the crib up on the second mattress, beside our kitchen table, which is raised and has a low “ceiling” and so we can’t lift EJ out over the top. Instead, when we’re putting him down (if he’s fallen asleep on a walk), we can just unzip the side and lay him down easily. Similarly when he wakes up in the morning, we simply unzip and he crawls out himself, which he loves!

The mattress is essentially a self-inflating camping mattress. I recently discovered that it’s quicker if you just blow into the nozzle a bit so it inflates faster, but either way, it provides the perfect amount of cushion.

If we’re somewhere that only has hardwood or tile floors, I typically put an extra blanket underneath, just for some extra cushion and warmth. Although, it’s not at all necessary – maybe I’m just spoiling EJ.

Who knew one could have so much to say about a crib!

Do you have a favourite travel crib?

xoxo

Coco

 

Mom guilt takes over

Mom guilt takes over

Tonight ended in tears. EJ’s and mine. After I rushed out of his room in a huff when hubs came to relieve me from another bedtime struggle and the first night of trying the “camping out” method.

Tonight I sat in his rocking chair, while he incessantly screamed, “Mama bed now, mama bed now,” referring to the cot set up beside his crib. The cot is mainly used by me when he wakes in the night and I just can’t do the up and down anymore. Those nights when you’re bone-tired and you’ll  do anything for sleep. All it takes is me being there or touching his hand through the crib for a good night’s sleep.

But it’s gone on too long. I’m sick (quite literally with a cold) and run down and really, truly missing my evenings me time.

Work blends into motherhood which blends into work. Despite having just returned from a week off.

I have only been to Crossfit twice in the past six weeks, because I can’t guarantee either of us will sleep, making it hard to go to the morning class. And since I’m not home until 6:30 and he’s not falling asleep until 8, 9, or 10, I am just too beat to make it to a 7:00 p.m. class. I know, excuses, excuses, but I’m in the trenches here (parenting line, stolen from my coworker). I can’t seem to find five minutes to text my friends, let alone call them, or see them, and other than finishing up dishes and breakfast, lunch and daycare prep once he’s asleep, I barely have time to brush my teeth before I pass out.

And I feel awful about all of it. I feel guilty for rocking him instead of working with him as soon as the sleep regression started, for not spending more time with him to curb the separation anxiety. I feel guilty for having to work and ship him off to grandparents and daycare, I feel guilty for needing Crossfit or a manicure or dinner with friends once in a while to get a break. I feel guilty for venting.

So, I cried as soon as hubs came out (after only five minutes). He let me sob into his shoulder and tell him I can’t do it and that I feel lost and broken. With a tight squeeze, he told me we would get through it. And he’s right, we will.

And, then I felt guilt for letting the mom guilt weigh me down, because I’m lucky. I am so effing lucky. I have a job (and bosses who allow me to have a flexible schedule), a home, and a loving, healthy family.

I know so many moms who can relate to this roller coaster. And I know that this story is nothing compared to what some moms or parents are going through and yet, we all have our own journey and we’re all doing our damnedest to do right by these little people that are the centre of our worlds.

So whether you’re doing it solo, with a strong supportive partner, or with family holding you up, keep going mama.

Don’t forget, you’re superwoman.

Xoxox

Coco

The velcro baby’s sleep struggles continue

bedtime-aint-nobody-got-time-for-thatIt’s been a month since I first shared the post about EJ’s sleep regression. Life’s been busy – it’s summer, we’re jamming our weekends and vacation days full of fun. I wish I could say sleeping in has been part of that, but alas, our sleep struggles continue. Along with that, it seems the “terrible twos” have come out in full force.

EJ continues to fight sleep at bedtime, despite following the usual routine. With multiple nighttime wakings every other day, hubby or I have taken to sleeping on a cot in his room just so we can quickly calm him back into repose and get some shuteye ourselves.

At bedtime last night, similar to a few weeks ago, A carted our screaming, tantrum-throwing boy to his room so I could escape to the gym. EJ wailed “Mama eer (here)” for a few minutes before hubby started to counter his wails with, “Dada here!” in funny voices. Soon enough, EJ was saying, “Dada eer” and calmed down enough to lay in his bed and go to sleep on his own. He slept from 8:15 to 6:15 last night and didn’t wake once.

I feel like a new woman today. One night, though, does not mean we’re in the clear.

Tomorrow night, EJ, my mom and I are hopping on a red-eye out to New Brunswick and then heading to Prince Edward Island for the week. So, yet again, I’m going to throw his whole schedule off and he’s going to get used to being with me 24/7. We’ll see how he sleeps while we’re away, but returning to reality after this vacation isn’t going to help his separation anxiety at all.

Hopefully we’ll get through the airports and flights with a limited number of tantrums. Anyone have advice for holding onto (or wrestling) a 30-pound toddler on your lap while in flight?

Sleep or no sleep, tantrums or not, I’m looking forward to adventuring and a little time away with my boy.

xo

Coco

 

 

 

The velcro baby’s sleep regression

Emerson napping
EJ napping last weekend, after I stood by his crib to help him fall asleep.

For the past two weeks, EJ’s schedule has been a little off. It’s summer, the days are longer, we’re all a little more relaxed and we want to be outside as much as possible. We were camping for four days, then we had friends over for a weekend, we’ve eaten out, and so on. Despite the slight timing shifts, his bedtime routine is consistent and we’re trying spend as much time with him as we can.

He recently started using “Daddy” and “Mommy,” and is using them interchangeably with “Mama” and “Dada.” And lately, there is a certain kind of whine attached to those words, so it sounds like, “Momm-eeee” or “Dadd-eeee.” He wants us, more than he wants anyone else, and the tears at daycare drop off have returned.

He’s always been a velcro baby. Now, as the toddler years creep in, it’s fascinating to see how his independence can flourish at times and how his velcro baby tendencies take over at key times during the day. The past month has been the start of a mommy/daddy phase. It was “Daddy” only for about a week, and for the past week or so, it’s been a true “Mommy” phase. True to the extent that he wants to be in my arms and interacting with me the minute I get home, in the shower with me in the mornings, he wants me to feed him, and at bedtime, he wants to be in bed or in the rocking chair, with me. All of which I am soaking up, and is met with only the tiniest bit of exasperation.

No criticism here please, we all need some “me time” and I’m getting very little of it this week. Mainly because, for a few nights this week, he absolutely refused to sleep! Bedtime started at 7:30 on each of those nights, but he didn’t fall asleep until between 9:30 and 10:30, wailing “Momm-eeee” the minute I tried to leave him in his bed, without letting up.

He tried to climb out of his crib several times, and would be dead asleep in my arms, or A’s arms, and then would wake as soon as we were out of his room. Then, in the middle of the night, it would start again, “Momm-eeee! Momm-eeee! Momm-eee…” For hours. We went through this cycle of wake, cry, rock to calm/sleep, bed, wake… We’re all exhausted.

However, victory followed last night when A (quite literally) tore a wailing EJ away from me after his bedtime story, to take him to bed. He rocked him for a few minutes to calm him, then put EJ in bed and said the usual, “Night night, love you.” EJ screamed, “Momm-eeee” for about five minutes, before pulling the tail of his musical monkey and laying down to sleep. He slept 10.5 hours and just like that, we are almost back to normal!

So, what the hell was that!? He’s 21 months next week and there are an abundance of things it could be. Maybe it’s the toddler sleep regression. It could be that his molars are coming in. It also sounds like separation anxiety.

I’m out of the house for an average of 10 hours Monday to Friday. I often get to see EJ for 30 minutes to an hour in the morning, as we rush out the door, or for one to two hours in the evening, before bedtime. Usually, I’m stressed or tired both times, from the long drive, the rush to be on time, or from my day. Cue the tiny violin. I feel ultra guilty as a working mom.

I am doing my best to ease EJ’s feelings of anxiety, by;

  • Being consistent with a quick daycare drop off
  • Being consistent with bedtime routines
  • Staying responsive, affectionate and calm
  • Giving him my full attention and explaining his feelings of frustration, sadness or fear

Whatever this phase is, I’m sure this isn’t the end of it, but AlphaMom says, remember that, “This nonsense too shall pass!”

If you have any advice – I’d love to hear it!

xo

Coco