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the crib sheet

Navigating the Perfect Storm

Brooke Nalle

I will do my best to avoid any mariner puns or word play, but I really could turn my day of woe into a good ol' sea shanty or rather sleep shanty.  You know the feeling, you must know, it is 5:15 am, your son is up due to bloody nose (thanks allergies!), your daughter is up because your son sent her to go get you, and now your baby is up because she doesn't want to be left out of the fun, and you -- well, you are running through the order of events for that day wondering how are we going to make it?

That was me, my friends and faithful (few) readers, last Saturday.  Yes sleep cyclones even happen to sleep coaches, sadly.  I raced to stop the bloody nose, got my older two back to bed for about 10 minutes, and tried to convince my 21 month old that despite the antics it was still 'night time'.  Now it was 5:35 and the chatter and noise were building, and I just lay still willing them all back to sleep because that day we had ..... ballet, baseball, birthday party, soccer, t-ball, and visit from grandparents with late dinner and cake to celebrate Pop's birthday.  Don't be jealous of my over programmed, over committed kids.  Just try enjoying down time with them - it doesn't really work when it is 41 degrees and raining.

Alas the wind kicked up and the waves swamped the deck (ahhh, sailing metaphor), and we were up, up for the day.  We made the coffee, divided and conquered.  

I'll spare you the gory details - we powered through our schedule and came to my father's birthday party, and that is where the tears began in earnest.  My newly minted 7-year old sobbed about his taco - I had substituted pulled pork for his usual taco meat in my effort to not cook like the chef at our local dinner.  My youngest had dined on chicken an hour before and was now lapping the table awaiting some sort of accident, my 4.5 year old rubbed her eyes and cried softly only because she knew that she didn't have a chance to out power her brother's wails, and my husband and I watched the clock waiting for this day to come to its bitter end.  We pulled it together, cut the cake, scraped our plates, and dropped the baby in her crib still dressed in her dress and tights from the long, very long day.

My parents left, with more tears the kids made it to bed, although a last minute forced trip to the bathroom nearly brought down the house.  And we all called it a night.

I can't stand days like this where you are literally bailing the water out of your sinking ship all day long, trying to stay afloat (sorry, more nautical metaphors, I just can't help it).  I do learn from these days how critical sleep is to a family - to all of us.  I have learned over the years as a parent and now as a sleep coach that children's sleep is not just about getting your baby to sleep through the night - that's just one of your hurdles.  My best days as a parent - and yes I can count them on two hands, it has been 7 years - are when we are proactive and not reactive, when we can start and end our day with good sleep under our belts and the knowledge that the baby will get her nap and the kids will have enough time to both enjoy their evenings and be in bed before I have lost my last strand of patience.  

It is hard when you start your day too early or after a bad night; but it happens, and with a lot of extra work and some tears the ship usually rights itself.