So here we are on vacation. I'm sure that all vacations with children provide endless hours of interesting vacation stories, but I'm am beginning to doubt the that anyone can have a relaxing vacation with a toddler. For example, in our 5 days so far we have been to urgent care once, called poison control once, and watched way more Barney than suits a vacation. And in fact most of these things are related to one central aspect of our vacation-with-toddler that has managed to hold the 8 adults here hostage: Little goat, joy of my heart, seems to be boycotting sleep.
Now I am able write this out because I have spent the better part of an hour coaxing my little one into slumber. And by coaxing, I mean wrestling, crying, fighting and avoiding being kicked. It hasn't been pretty, in fact it has made me very self-conscious and anxious as a mother. To be failing at one of the few things that kids really need in front of all my ILs, well, it is just a little hard to stomach.
There are reasons of course. We've been in different beds. Our meal times our messed up. He's getting more sugar than usual, and there are all sorts of fun things to do other than sleep. Oh yeah, and he has an ear infection. (hence urgent care). I get it. I really do. He's all messed up and it is a symptom of a fun vacation. After all little goat has really taken to the beach. Being outside with the water and the sand is about the only thing he wants to do. But it is taking its toll on me and the whole family's vacation and I feel somewhat responsible.
In bemoaning little goat's lack of sleep however I realized something interesting: getting a toddler to sleep is much like the seven stages of grief. For those who don't know, the seven stages of grief were developed to describe the common responses to grieving that people feel in a loss. They don't have an order and people can jump in and out of stages quickly or in a long time. COmmonly the seven stages are:
- Shock or Disbelief
- Acceptance and Hope
And let me tell you, they don't only apply to grief. They definitely apply to naptime and bedtime as well. Allow me to demonstrate:
Shock or Disbelief
Mama: Little Goat it is time to get ready for bed
LG: WHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAA! (flailing may or may not occur here)
After he realizes I am serious he often stops flailing and attempts to continue what ever playing he was doing prior to the announcement. He will play with toys, or try to leave the room and go outside.
Mama: Sorry little dude, it is time for bed.
LG: No mama, beach, water...
Mama: Nope, bedtime, let's go get our pjs on.
LG: No mama, barney, choo-choos, book...no na-nap.
This stage is often the most difficult as it involves hitting, fighting and tantrums. If you manage to get ready for bed before this stage this can be done safely on the mattress but otherwise limbs may be in danger (yours and the toddler's). This stage is mostly non-verbal.
LG: More book mama. (mama reads a book).
LG: More water mama. (water is retrieved).
LG: Elmo mama. (Stuffed elmo located).
Until mama decides to break the cycle...often leading back to anger, or onto guilt.
As I am not sure that toddler's feel much guilt yet, this seems to change a bit into a guilt trip to the bedtime initiator. Little goat is very good about insisting something is hurting "Owie Mama" or that he is cold, sad or lonely. 9 times out of ten this is a ploy to put off bed even longer.
This often takes the form of baby goat crying on his bed, finally not trying to escape it, but too upset to even put up the fight any more. Frankly I am always glad to reach this stage. As much as I don't like to hear little goat crying it is a sign to me that we are finally on the way to...
Finally the toddler will recognize that you mean business (2 minutes, 2 hours or 2 days later) and will give in to the sleep process. Generally this is right before your last shred of patience blows away. It may have involved 5 or 6 parental tag outs, but this is a glorious moment as the crying gives way to snoring.
It may be that I am along in this comparison, but right now finding humor in this is the only way I'm making it through. We have a fair amount of vacation left and I'm determined to enjoy it, but little goat (while having fun) is doing his best to make life difficult for the rest of us.
Makes me wish there was an ambien for toddlers.
(Well, mostly just kidding).
Love from the beach,
P.S. Send wine.