Friday, April 13, 2012

The Curse of the "Easy Way Out"

When my daughter was born, and I was a first time mom, I was a big fan of the 'easy way out'. I was guilty of almost every bad habit in the book, just to make my life easier. I let her sleep in bed with me because she didn't sleep well in her bassinet. When she got a little older, I let her take a bottle to bed with her, because I knew it would put her to sleep quickly. And TV has been a big part of our day as long as she had been willing to pay attention to it.

I broke the habit of bringing her in bed with me when she was about 3 or 4 months old. I was worried about bringing back the sleepless nights, but I knew I had to nip it in the bud. Turns out she slept even better on her own, and so did I. I was just too sleep deprived to give it a shot before then.

The bottle to bed was harder to break. I tried just eliminating it, but she was so dependent on it, it became a nightmare. But I knew it had to be done. Just the thought of the damage it was causing her teeth was enough to make me determined. I first switched it to a sippy cup, and I found she was drinking less. But what did it was when she got the flu. I was up all night with the poor thing getting sick over and over. I was forcing her to get water down all night. For the next few days I gave her water in her sippy cup all day and at night to make sure she got properly re hydrated. Then the water just stuck! And eventually she just wanted to have the water next to her bed, in case she woke up thirsty. I wonder what would have happened if she didn't get sick lol.

Now the TV is tricky. I don't plan to turn the TV off in the day. She doesn't spend all of her time staring at the screen, it is just something we have in the background. She likes the songs and occasionally stops and has a watch. Our actual TV problem is in the bedroom. Last year, after a 3 hour long tantrum filled fight to get her to go to sleep, Steve finally got fed up and took the TV and DVD player from our room, put it in hers with a movie, and she fell asleep in minutes. I was too excited to protest. After that it became a very quick habit. I justified it by saying "well, I can't sleep without the TV on, and I am fine."

So we carried on like that for a while. It worked well, she fell asleep quickly and peacefully every night. When we moved last August, our cable provider said we could have up to 4 cable boxes in our house free for a year. So I thought, why not put one in Hannah's room? That way we don't have to worry about putting in a movie every night, we could just put on the kids channel. So things were still good, she still fell asleep well. And in the morning it was great because she was able to play quietly while watching TV, letting us get a little extra sleep.

The last 4 months or so though have been awful. It started with the TV keeping her up for hours. Then, it turned into a fight. She would be running around her room, crying out for us to come upstairs. We would have to go up and talk to her maybe 4 or 5 times a night before she would finally calm down and go to sleep. The only thing that would work was the threat to take away the TV.

If she was sleeping at my mom's, or my dad's or Steve's mom's, she would sleep AMAZINGLY with no TV. Falls asleep right away, sleeps through the night, and in some cases, sleeps in late! And she doesn't bat an eye that there is no TV. So it was my plan to ditch the TV when we move, and she wouldn't know the difference (that was my thought).

Well yesterday was the last straw with that stupid idiot box! I was trying to get some packing done while she napped. Max was content, cooing away in his crib while I packed up his room. Hannah was running around and being a pain in her room. I had to go in there and tell her to get back into her bed like every 20 minutes. I was losing it. I eventually went into my room to feed Max and put him down for his nap. She was still being noisy. I went in and gave my usual threat of taking away the TV. She threw the loudest tantrum I had seen in a long time, waking up Max. I was DONE. I went right into that room and yanked the TV right the hell out of there. I was not going to be controlled by a 3 year old any longer. She cried and cried. But what did it matter? Max was already woken up!

This was a long novel of a post and if you read it I appreciate it. With Max I was determined not to take any easy routes. I refused to sleep with him in the bed. I may have had more nights with zero sleep, but it wasn't going to happen. And now he sleeps no problem in his bed. I am practising putting him to bed awake, which I NEVER did with Hannah, and it's working.. sometimes.

What bad habits have you formed to make like a little easier?

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