Category Archives: Sleeping

I moved bedtime earlier because I can.

So we’ve always enforced an 8pm bedtime. Firstly because children need to be getting enough sleep at night to function optimally during the day and secondly (and most importantly) I am of the firm belief that life goes on after the kids go down. The husband and I can do what we like, eat what we like, watch what we like on TV, hang out without having to mind our P’s and Q’s – basically it’s the only time we have alone without the kids. Granted I am like a kid myself and hardly ever see the other side of 9pm, but we still need that time to regroup. When they were babies, we needed that time to get ready for the next shift… washing bottles, making bottles, fixing lunches for the next day, tidying up their mess, etc, but as they have gotten older, this time has become more leisurely for us. I love it, I wouldn’t swop it out for anything. I have worked through my guilt issues of only spending X amount of awake hours with my kids as a working mother and I have come to enjoy the downtime when they go to bed. Win-win situation.

So two weeks ago, I decided to bring bedtime even earlier. To 7pm.

I had noticed that although we were in bed at 7h30pm, reading / praying / settling down for the night, the kids were still awake past 8pm. Between asking for 25 sips of water, yelling good night to each other about 27 times, singing loudly, complaining about being too hot, too cold, too itchy, too tired to sleep (yes, we’ve had that complaint) , these kids were not in La-La Land by 8pm. Hannah still naps at school so I wasn’t too concerned about her, but Liam doesn’t (they do have rest hour though) and when I calculated the hours of sleep he was getting in a 24 hour stretch, it just wasn’t enough. They wake up at 5h45 on a week day. They have busy days at school. They need their rest. They need between 10 – 13 hours of sleep per 24 hours! I figure that the earlier I get them into bed and settled, the earlier they actually fall asleep.

So I just moved bed time. I had to have a very long talk with Liam who knows exactly what time bed time SHOULD be – 8pm. Big hand on the 12, small hand on the 8. He wasn’t very impressed that I was trying to get him into bed earlier. So we struck a deal. In bed at 7pm – this means fed, bathed, teeth brushed, prayers said, night time activity completed, lullabies sung – everything done by 7pm. Our deal was that he could read to himself for a further 10 minutes and switch off the lamp himself at 7h10pm. They both agreed that this was a fair deal. Well Hannah doesn’t agree with anything we say, she just whines and finds loopholes and is at the age where everything is a problem – and she still has a million requests after lights out.

Otherwise, it’s been successful and that half an hour has made a big difference. They are usually fast asleep just after 7h30pm. They wake up happier, well they both still  DETEST waking up but snap out of it quickly and I attribute this to the extra bit of sleep they’re getting. And even with the earlier bed time, they still get up after 8 on the weekend – thank the stars.

We got them these cute little bookshelf headboard type thingies which they love because it’s easy access to their books and they get to switch the lamp off themselves without getting out of bed and they put their special little things out during the night… you know just in case they neeeeed it during the night. You won’t believe some of the things Hannah neeeeeeds during the night. Wow. This kid.

What time do your kids go to bed? Are they getting the recommended hours of sleep a night?

han room


Our first sleepover

On Saturday, Tyler and Liam had their first sleepover at our place. Tyler and Liam have been friends pretty much since birth. We are good friends with Tyler’s parents – my husband and Tyler’s daddy grew up together and Tyler’s mommy and I have been friends ever since we met – so my rough calculation is about eight or so years. So understandably so, Tyler and Liam have grown up in each other’s back pockets. Luckily, they genuinely like it each other (even though you wouldn’t think so if you had to hear how they argue at times) so it’s been great to see their little friendship form and develop.

So Tyler’s mom dropped him off on Saturday and immediately they dashed off to Liam’s room to tear it up into a million little pieces – well that’s what it looked like when I walked in there later. They are still happily oblivious to the fact that Hannah is a girl, so the three of them play very nicely together. My heart breaks for the day when they turn to her and say “hey, no girls allowed.” Let’s be honest, as  much as Liam loves Hannah, of course there will come a day when his sister is no longer cool to hang with when his friends are around. *note to self, find Hannah more little girl friends stat.*

I digress.

Here are a few things I discovered about sleepovers from this experience:

  1. When you think they can’t get any noisier, you best believe that they can. The more excited small children get, the louder and squeakier they become. And this was before the introduction of any sweets or stimulants.
  2. Small children are the biggest moaners. He pinched me, she hit me, he stole my pencil, she looked at me funny, he is breathing too loudly. Oh my poor bleeding ears.
  3. They are also the biggest forgivers. No sooner have they complained and cried about all the atrocities inflicted by their playmate, then they are back to playing happily and lovingly.
  4. Sleeping on a blow up mattress is indeed as fun as it looks. When you are 4 years old. And weigh under 20 kgs.
  5. Crowd mentality. It’s real. I think this is how pre-school teachers actually survive the day. One child whines about the supper that has been prepared, or complains when it’s time to brush teeth – but get the other kids on board and you have yourself a winner!
  6. Small kids don’t care about ugly crying in front of their friends. Now, I know I try and hold back my ugly cry in front of my friends, because I don’t want to be ridiculed for the rest of my life (you know how your good friends take the mickey at every chance they get). But 4 year olds are still pretty ok with going nuts in front of ANYBODY. No amount of “Tyler is going to laugh at you if you behave that way” worked. (yes, I know that’s not good parenting right there, but when your kid is going nuts, you try everything to shut them up, ok).
  7. Every little boy still needs his mommy at night  – even though he makes like he is a big shot in the day.
  8. Giving small children chores is not advisable on a sleepover. Everyone wants to outdo the other, and not in a good way. The results are often messy and you’re left with more work than you had to begin with. For example: setting the table turns into a game of who can throw the place mats the highest and who can run around the dining room table the fastest. Making up the bed turns into who can wrap themselves up in the sheets the tightest and then everyone gets to pummel the poor person wrapped in the sheet. Cleaning up the toys takes hours, they discover new games with every toy they pick up, and that turns into another game, and the toys never get put away, until I realise that it will actually be quicker if I just pick the toys up myself.
  9. Small children have NO idea how to whisper. 6am on Sunday morning, I could hear them “whispering” in Liam’s room.  They were very aware that they needed to be quiet, judging by the conversation I could audibly hear along the lines of “shhhh, we must be quiet cos mommy is still sleeping.” Yeh right.
  10. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Rule number 1 when dealing with three small children. Make sure their bellies are full, make sure the walls are padded and then leave the room. They can quite happily keep each other occupied for hours. I watched a movie, read my book and kipped on the couch uninterrupted. Pretty awesome.

The one about a crazy two year old and a mother’s love

Ok, I completely understand that Hannah is going through some serious changes. She started school, gave up her dummy and went off diapers all in a very short space of time. Challenging and scary for any two year old, I totally get that. I get that she is also at an age where the tantrums are at an Oscar award winning level, and that’s completely normal. I even understand her need to show off her newfound independence with everything from dressing herself, feeding herself, drinking out of a glass to a million other things she now thinks she can do – and I try, tryyyyyy, to be as patient as possible with her as she navigates her looooooong way around all these tasks.

So when she acts up, I get that too. I mean there’s a lot going on here, even for me, so for her and her little mind it must be like X 10000000. But this last week has been rough. The crying… OH THE CRYING… for everything! I can’t reach my toothbrush, let’s cry! I can’t find my shoe, let’s cry! I don’t like that t –shirt, even though I chose it myself last night, let’s cry! I can’t find that crumb of bread that fell off my sandwhich, let’s cry! I can’t stand watching Telly Tubbies anymore, let’s cry! Liam is bigger and stronger and has more capabilities than I do, let’s cry! This colouring pencil is the wrong shade of pink, let’s cry! I just feel like crying even though I can’t find a reason to, let’s CRY! OH MY SHATTERED NERVES!!!

Again, this is normal. Liam went through the crying phase. Totally normal. But boy, it’s doing my head in. We take her to her room, deposit her there and tell her she can come out when she is done crying. This worked for a little while. Then she realized, hey wait, I can open the door myself, I do not need to sit her by myself and cry, I can go out there and torture those suckers with my crying, yay! So out she comes and we ignore her and scream loud above her cries in order to be heard. It must look like a scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest… a child going ballistic in one corner while the rest of the family eat their dinner, exchanging rather LOUD pleasantries above the screams.

She has also decided that she doesn’t want to put herself to sleep, someone needs to lay with her. Now if you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll remember that Hannah decided she wanted to put herself to bed in September last year and we have not had this issue ever since. I’d say good night, switch off the light and off she’d drift to dreamland. No problem. Last few nights she has yelled for someone to come and lay with her. Marched out of her room a few dozen times crying and insisting that someone pat the baby to bed. First day or two, I did it without a problem… I mean the kid had just started school, and maybe she was experiencing a bit of separation anxiety. But now I just feel like we are creating a bad habit and regressing on the sleep thing. And besides, I have gotten used to my whole evening being free to do the things I like doing – playing on my phone, watching mindless TV, eating junk food, you know… I do not want to go back to laying in the dark, and hiding my phone almost under my boob so that it doesn’t distract the sleepy princess. I know, I know, she is only going to be this young for so long, but I also know how quickly bad habits are formed because we feel sorry for our little angels. Last night Sharon and I were chatting on Twitter, and it’s true what she said.. little people can be big manipulators. Now I am not saying that Hannah’s behaviour is not warranted, given the changes she has and is experiencing, but I do know that she has us wrapped so tightly around her little finger that I wouldn’t even notice if my little angel was deliberately trying to take my precious free evening away from me just because she knew she could.

Anyway, last night it was boiling hot and she was laying practically on top of me all sticky from the Peaceful Sleep lotion and I grudgingly put my arm around her and couldn’t help that warm and gushy feeling as the oxytocin pumped from my adrenal glands. You see, this is the problem! How can you not love this crying yelling whining lump, when the very fibre of your being betrays you when she comes near. I want to be mad but the minute she has me under her spell – even though I KNOW I’m under her spell – I can’t break free of that little finger that I’m wound so tightly around. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. If you don’t believe there is a God who especially wired us this way, then I just don’t know.

Just sleep and stop crying so much, child! You are driving your mother completely batty. I adore you, am completely in love and besotted with you, but you don’t need to flex your baby finger to get my attention, I am now and forever will be at your service, so give me a break ok?

And just like that, it was over.

Up until last week, we were still putting Hannah to bed. By this I mean that we would lay with her on the bed, humming songs and patting her bottom, until she fell asleep. Then we’d slowly lift our big Heffalump bodies off the bed, hoping that the springs wouldn’t creak and wake the sleeping baby. We’d pry her cup out of her hand and remove Tigger from her grip and tiptoe out of her room. I hadn’t even given the idea much thought, or considered that she was getting big and no longer needed us to “put her to bed.” We were both happy to go with it and we just hadn’t had “that” discussion (like “that” discussion about giving up the night time bottle, or “that” discussion about potty training, or “that” discussion about sleep training – you know all the hard discussions that you know you need to have but just don’t have the energy to follow through on. Yeh that.)

So on our first night in our new house and anticipating the worst sort of night, what with a new environment for the kids, I tucked Liam in as usual and toddled over with Hannah to her room. My first thought was that I would not fit on her single bed which was against the wall on one side and half way against the compactum on the other, lest she fell off during the night. She was sleeping on a double bed prior to this, so we could fit comfortably then. My second thought was that I was just so exhausted from moving house that day, that I just wanted to shower and go to bed and I thought that if I laid my head on her pillow, I would never get up. So with that in mind, I tucked her in and excitedly confirmed how wonderful her new room was and how she was a big girl and how she was going to go to sleep in her new pretty bed. Then I switched the light off and left. I stood outside the door for about 30 seconds, and she was quiet. I bbm’d the husband to say he needed to keep an ear open for her and I got into the shower. When I got out, she was fast asleep. I was amazed. I put it down to exhaustion; they too had had a long day with the move.

The next two nights, we had visitors so she fell asleep on her dad’s lap the first night and on her gran’s lap the next. So last night, I tried it again, and voila she put herself to bed! Not even a moan or groan. In fact, it’s turned out to be so simple that I am suspicious! When we started this with Liam, it wasn’t exactly easy. He would call us back to tell us about his friend at school, or how he needed to make a wee, or how he was thirsty/hungry/scared – you name it, he had it. He would do ANYTHING to stall going to bed on his own. But this with Hannah? Too simple and too good to be true. I am waiting for her to jump out of bed and yell “SURPRISE – GOTCHA! Now come over here and lay your head on my pillow and pat my bum until my breathing regulates and I drift off to lala-land.”

Could it be that we’ve just successfully reached a milestone without one ounce of baby-drama? Come on, comes with some drama, doesn’t it? That this transition has happened so smoothly, and without me even initiating it, has me totally befuddled. I had to laugh, I’ve become so wary of my kids and how difficult everyday with them can be, that when it’s easy I immediately think there’s something fishy going on.

Anyway, one minute she was a baby, and then just like that it was over and she is a big girl. I now have an additional half and hour or so a day to do whatever I like. Alone. Do you know what I can do in half an hour? I can paint 20 nails, I can watch a show on TV, I can blog, I can lay in the bath. An extra 30 minutes in my day is like a gift, a special present that Hannah gave to me this week! Hooray! Long may the princess put herself to sleep, long may it last!

My most favorite time of the day

All is quiet, not even the tv is on. Kids are asleep, hubby is pottering around downstairs and I am laying in my bed, made toasty by the electric blanket. This is my most favorite time of the day.

I use this hour or so to read, watch mindless tv, stalk people on Facebook, or chat to friends on BBM. Some days I just spend this time laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. This is my time, my hour to unwind, usually with a cup of Milo or tea and occasionally a biscuit or leftovers from a party pack. By the time my human blanket comes to bed, I’m usually ready for a cuddle and a goodnight kiss, and while he enjoys HIS hour of downtime, I drift off into a content and peaceful sleep. I don’t mind the tv buzzing quietly in the background, or his sidelight on if he chooses to read or surf, I’m just happy that all my chicks are accounted for.

Although I am not a grouchy so-and-so in the mornings, I’d have to admit that I’m at my best just before bedtime, so if you need to tell me something important and require my full and utter attention, this is probably the best time to do it. But don’t wait too long, my family will laugh and say that at a certain time each night, I become like a zombie who starts to nod off until my head is hanging back and I’m catching flies with my open mouth, and this is true! I can’t do late nights anymore and much prefer my usual bedtime routine as detailed above.

Ah Yes, this is my most favorite time of the day. Xxx

Sleep Walker

Remember this post about Hannah moving into a big girl’s bed? Right. Everything was going swimmingly well until about two weeks ago when it dawned on her that this new found freedom, meant she could come and go as she pleased. At any time of the night. Why should she sleep in her own bed, alone and miserable, when she can silently creep in between mom and dad and then force them each into a corner while she takes up the whole bed and all the covers? I’m not sure what to do to solve this problem, I don’t want to lock her in her room, I want her to have the freedom to get on and off her bed, but I sure don’t want to regress to having a kid in the bed, when I’ve worked so hard from day one to keep the marital bed sacred (I sound like Danielle Steel).

I’ll be in a deep sleep, dreaming about Lindt chocolate bunnies, and I’ll feel this warm breath right on my cheek. I’ll open my eyes and find two big eye balls staring back at me. Once I’ve recovered from the shock,  I mean how would you like to be death stared awake, I’ll let her into the bed and we’ll sleep. Let’s be honest, there is something wonderfully scrumptious about spooning with a small little body. Until the small little body star fishes on the bed and manages to wrap herself in the entire duvet, while her parents freeze on the outskirts. So then I started to walk her back to her room when I found her breathing down my neck. This worked for a little while, until she started to insist on me climbing in with her. She has a double bed, so it wasn’t an uncomfortable arrangement, but that’s not the point. I have my own bed, I sleep with Daddy and you are supposed to sleep by yourself in your bed. This seems to have become a regular night time game and I need to break the cycle. At first when it was an occasional thing it was all cute and stuff, NOW it’s happening every night and I need to take the bull by the horns and stop it.

I was hoping that the cold would put her off and she’d stay put in her warm bed, clearly the cold doesn’t bother her. I have tried taking her back to bed and leaving her there, but half an hour later, she’s back with her heavy breathing. The minute her head hits the pillow, either in our or her bed and I’m next to her, she is lights out, but I don’t want her to get into the habit of having me next to her in order to fall asleep.

Now I’ve always advocated doing what works at the time, because they’ll grow up soon enough and all these baby problems  will be a thing of the past, but after two years to NOW start with sleeping shenanigans is crazy and unfair on mommy who has gotten used to an eight hour night. Anyone else experiencing this? Does anyone have any bright ideas on how to stop this sleep walker in her tracks? I do love to feel her little chubby hand search for mine under the covers, and I do love to be woken up with wet sloppy kisses, and I do love that she feels safe and secure when she is snuggled up close to me, but I do love uninterrupted sleep too!

Operation: Bye Bye Cot

I’d like to compare the taking down of Hannah’s cot, to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, but I do believe that that would be insensitive for many reasons. So I won’t. But what I will say is that the emotion we I felt as I disassembled her cot, was almost the same. Not quite, but that’s the comparison I’m using so humour me please.

We had been talking about it for a while. Hannah had been sleeping in the double bed in her room for the last two months or so, so it wasn’t like her cot had any use or that she needed to be “weaned” from it. Zoleka would still put her down in her cot for her day time naps but that too was more due to habit than necessity. I also felt that Hannah was restricted in her cot; she is a wild sleeper, and I wanted to give her room to thrash out in her sleep if she wanted to.

The reason we didn’t do it sooner, is because it’s a BIG deal and I wanted to give the ceremony all the pomp and glory it deserved. Taking down the cot – for mother and child – is a momentous occasion. Any mother will tell you that. Any mother can attest to the fact that the coming down of the cot, is a major milestone in the life of her little bunny. The move from cot to bed almost always signals the move from baby to big girl or boy. We even speak to our children in that vein: “wow, you’re a big girl now! you sleep in a big girl’s bed!” I know my hesitation was because I knew this was probably, and most likely, and almost definitely, the last cot I would take down. Ever. There are no more babies. I won’t have to fight with my husband, as I tower over him with a huge belly, shaking the directions in his face as he battles to put it together (and we have camp cots, they aren’t that difficult to assemble), I won’t ever stare in wonder at the empty cot, all decked out in new fresh linen, with cuddly toys planted in the corner, as I wait for the pink squishy baby to be born. Or stand over my baby’s cot, winding a mobile to shush her to sleep. For me, that cot symbolises my pregnancy, my birth experience, MY BRAND NEW LITTLE PUDDING who used to look lost in that big open space of frilly linen; it represents sleepless nights when the cot stood empty because I paced with a restless baby in my arms sometimes from dusk until dawn. The cot reminds me of how HARD it all was, but also how quickly it has all come to an end and how rewarding it all was and how accomplished I feel for making it through ALIVE, and the kids are still alive too (!!) … the baby-baby days are over. I kick myself every time I use this corny sentence but it’s true: they grow so fast!

So for me, it was more a case of saying good bye to one of the best things I’ve done in my life: raise babies into toddlers. It may seem small, insignificant and silly – I mean it’s only been three years – I can hardly call myself an accomplished mother, I’m still new at this actually, but I do believe that these three years have probably being the most difficult, the most heart wrenching, the most rewarding, the most AMAZING years of my life. To conceive in itself, is a miracle, people brush off too easily how intricate and complex and remarkable it is to actually conceive a baby. To carry this baby in your womb for 9 months and to bring him or her to birth. To watch this pink ball of love-mush grow and develop into a walking, talking being with a personality to boot, and, as a mother, to be super instrumental in that WHOLE process – come on, that’s bloody miraculous! I think the move from babyhood to toddlerhood, is as significant, if not more so, than any other stage in development. To think that in two short years your ball of mush learns to eat, walk, talk, feels emotions like love, sadness, hurt and pain, knows faces and voices – there’s not that level of growth in such a short time span, for the rest of their lives. The growth which takes place in these two years (two being the general age that your child will be labelled as a toddler and no longer a baby) is astounding. So when they reach this age and you look back and marvel at how far they and you have come, it does make one emotional! And for me, the cot is symbolical of ALL of this! So I trust you now understand just how big a deal the taking down of my last born’s cot was for me. Not so much for her, but definitely for me.

Hannah has handled the move from cot to bed, with such ease; she really is a super star. She giggles when I ask her where her cot is and tells me “cot gone” and swipes her chubby arms from side to side to indicate “no more.” She loves that she is able to get off the bed and waddle over to us in the mornings, without having to yell for someone to take her out of the cot. She loves to jump-jump-sugar-lump on the big bed, and most importantly she loves that she is one step closer to being more like her brother. Big girl and boy! The room looks a bit bare without the cot, so I’ll have to find something cute to fill that spot – because less is never more with me. In fact, Hannah’s room doesn’t look anything like a little girl’s room because it also serves as a guest room when we have visitors. So perhaps I’ll use this as an opportunity to girly-up her room a bit – but not too much because we have to be out of this house by August, remember.

So that’s a wrap folks! Cots, prams, feeding chairs, walking rings, Bumbos, bouncy chairs – ALL GONE. My toddlers are toddling along, and my baby checklist is fast reaching completion. Next stop: Operation bye-bye botty. Watch this space.


Liam in his cot
Hannah in her cot
Get me out of here!

Placing a pillow over anyone’s face is wrong.

My kids have been sleeping through the night for some time now, and I find every possible moment to gloat about it because it’s been a long hard journey… like my colleague will ask me if I’d like to pop down to the canteen with her for a cup of coffee and I spend the whole trip and cup of coffee talking about what good sleepers I have (she isn’t even a mother, she really doesn’t give a damn) or my boss asks me how my weekend was and I use this as the perfect opportunity to tell him how well we all slept. Or the tea lady asks me for bus fare and I tell HER how well I slept – she is 60 years old, I don’t think she cares, really. Anyway, the Law of Murphy dictates, gloating and showing off can only end badly for you.

Last night was rough. Everyone went to bed quite happily as usual, I even watched a movie – something I never do during the week because I’m usually too busy and besides, DSTV is usually regurgitating something that I have already watched for the 496th time. We went to bed at about 10pm, and I was blissfully dreaming about Lindt chocolate bunnies, when I heard the first squeal from Hannah’s room. 

I look at my phone, it’s only 11pm. Darn! I lay quietly, staring at the ceiling, willing her back to sleep, but the next squeal is louder and angrier. Off I traipse, while Daddy Dearest continues to snore peacefully. She is awake, standing in her cot and quite pissed off. I hand over the bottle, avoiding eye contact and any form of communication and edge towards the door, expecting her to lay down and drink herself into a sleepy milk induced coma. No such luck. She yells out “MUMMY” and I knew I was doomed. I sit on the bed opposite her cot and give her my most defeated sigh, she responds with a chirpy “hello mummy!” We lay on the bed together as she counts each family member by name: where’s Dudee? Where’s Leelee? Where’s Gogo? SLEEPING like normal people do in the middle of the night, I respond. Eventually I dose off; I can feel her tossing and turning as she mumbles softly to herself. I wake up and look at my phone, it’s 1.15am. She is asleep so I suck in my stomach and hold my breath as I slide off the bed which, by the way, creaks like something from a horror movie. I make it safely back to the marital bed, husband still snoring peacefully. I plump up my pillow and start to think chocolate bunny thoughts. What feels like five minutes later, I hear Hannah calling out to me – why is it that the never call out for their “Dudees” in the still of the night? My phone registers 2am, you cannot be serious. She is sitting “pen reg op” on the bed and greets me with a bounce and a smile “hello mummy.” I ask her in my most sternest voice why she isn’t sleeping and she says “bokky”… her milk is finished and she wants more. I seriously thought these days were behind me. I go downstairs and refill the bottle, I put her back in her cot and I leave the room, but she yells out to me. We lay on the bed again. She is stroking my face, and patting my head. She is like a flea: she jumps on top of me, then in the crook of my arm, then she spoons me, then she pulls me so that I can spoon her – serious. I fall asleep and the next time I open my eyes, her feet are almost in my mouth and her face is somewhere alongside my kneecaps. It’s 3am. I try to extricate myself from this sticky situation, but she stirs and I immediately play dead. It works. I am counting the hours until my alarm goes off, and if you are anything like me, you know how hard it is to go back to sleep when you know that you have to be up soon. That’s another one of Murphy’s Laws.. Thou shalt not be able to sleep if you are watching the alarm clock. When I sense that her breathing has regulated, I do a move that could have been used in The Matrix, with Keanu Reeves as my co star. When I stand up, I realise that I may have pulled a muscle in my back. But the baby is still asleep and I hobble back to the marital bed. I make a pit stop at the toilet, my wee hasn’t even run cold and I hear Hannah calling. It is at this point that I start to wonder who I should smother with a pillow first: Hannah because she is totally annoying me at this point or the Husband who hasn’t gotten up ONCE during this whole palaver. I trudge over to Hannah, it’s close to 4am, I have to be up at 5:30am. I resign myself to the fact that I will look like the walking dead in the morning and hope there is something left in my tube of Garnier Caffeine Eye roll-on. So we sleep side by side until my alarm goes off at 5:30am. She doesn’t even stir as a grapple to find my phone to turn the alarm off. She doesn’t move a muscle as I noisily complain about being exhausted and now it’s time to get up and how I just want to put a pillow over her father’s face because I am so mad that he is so well rested and I am so tired. She sleeps through our morning noise of showers going, Liam yelling, toast popping, kettle boiling, Jungle Junction blasting. I cough loudly as I pass her door, I clang heavily in my high heels as I walk past again, I purposely scream right outside her door for Liam to come and get his school bag. She sleeps. We leave for work and school and she is still asleep. 

Zoleka reports that she woke up after 7am, refreshed and happy. I look like death. This had better be a once off. I wish someone would put a pillow over my face.

Wakey Wakey

We have gone from one extreme to the other in our household. Liam, non-sleeper numero uno, has gone from not sleeping for the better part of his life, to sleeping like a teenager. I honestly did not think that I’d see the day when I’d have to rip the curtains open… and then shut them again… and then open them again REALLY enthusiastically to stir him out of his slumber, all the while singing “Good morning, good morning, good morning to the whole wide world” in my best Barney voice. I wouldn’t mind this ritual – if it worked. But it doesn’t. Here’s how it usually goes…. 

I bounce into his room, singing Barney wakey wakey songs – nothing, I do my curtain pulling trick – nothing, I take his clothes out of the wardrobe very noisily (still singing) – nothing. I do incy wincy spider on his back, I tickle his toes, this usually elicits a few unhappy groans but his eyes remain closed and his thumb remains in his mouth. My patience starts to wane at this point because I hear the hubby yelling from downstairs that we are going to be late if I sing one more stupid Barney song instead of just yanking the kid awake. This from a man who isn’t a morning person either, can you tell? I wouldn’t like to be yanked out of my sleep, so I do try and make the transition from sleeping to waking as pleasant as possible for Liam, but he really makes it difficult. So with hubby on my back, I pump up the jam and start undressing Liam while he is still asleep. His automatic response is to curl up into the foetal position, so I have to stretch him out and THAT is when the real drama actually unfolds. Out come the waterworks, along with some kicking and screaming for my theatrical pleasure. Then HE pumps up the jam and goes into a full blown tantrum, and quite honestly, the last thing a person wants first thing in the morning, is to deal with a tantrum. So I get worked up and annoyed, I threaten him with all sorts of things, I try and dress him while belting out threats and dodging flailing arms and kicking legs. All this commotion wakes Hannah, who IS a morning person generally, but her chirpiness soon turns to irritation because Liam is just being so darn noisy and irritating that we are all thrown into an unpleasant mood. I manage to get his bottoms on, but the top is a bit more difficult because he won’t sit up and he does that floppy break-dance-man move AND he won’t take his thumb out of his mouth (yes, my wonder boy can scream and throw a tantrum with his thumb in his mouth – beat that!) and well I have to basically straddle him to make it work. Once he is dressed, he sort of settles down because now he is fully awake – awake but still grumpy. He drags himself to the bathroom where I first have to let him brush his own teeth which is time consuming but necessary unless I want another tantrum. He has one of those toothbrushes that light up and sing for the duration of the time you are supposed to brush your teeth, I think it’s two minutes. I thought this was quite nifty and I spent a lot of time explaining to Liam that we needed to brush for that long to make sure that our teeth were sparkly clean and that we got rid of all the germs so that our teeth wouldn’t fall out. Worked like a charm. But of course the things you tell your children always come back to bite you in the gum… He insists that I let him brush for the WHOLE song time, just like I told him too, even though I go over his brushing myself. It’s hard to go back on my word and tell him that we are late and that his teeth won’t rot if we brush for less than two minutes for just one darn day! THE.LONGEST.TWO.MINUTES.OF.MY.LIFE. Oh, and the toothbrush doesn’t have a battery, I have checked. 

So I touch up his teeth, we wash face and hands, brush hair and apply sun block. And it’s at this point that I finally see my real son – the happy go lucky talkative Liam – emerge from under that sleepy veil. By the time the real Liam emerges, I am tired and fed up, my makeup is already melting due to the fine sweat I have worked up while trying to wake my son up and I feel like how Liam probably felt when he was woken from his slumber. 

This whole saga is partly our fault. On the weekends, Liam sleeps until about 7h30am and wakes up smiling and happy. During the week, because we live so far from school and where we work, he has to wake up at 5h45am. I do feel bad for him and we are in the process of finding a home closer to work and school, but for now this is our lot. Unfortunately there are many people who have to wake up early and get going in the mornings because we are not all fortunate to live a stone’s throw away from where we need to be everyday, other people have to use public transport and this means they too have to be up at sparrow’s fart. That’s life. But you can’t exactly explain that to a toddler, so almost every morning (because there are days when he surprises us and plays his part) our day starts like this. Most people who see me first thing in the morning at work, look at me sadly and ask if I had a bad night with the babies… they look taken aback when I explain that every morning my toddler morphs into a teenager who loves his sleep. And I’m too tired to bother explaining further than that.

You gotta love those old wives… when they said you should never wake a sleeping baby, they were not telling tales.

The Power of Association

When Hannah was born, I was amazed that she fit my initial pie in the sky idea that babies are supposed to be pink and wrinkled and quiet and angelic. This because, my idyllic ideas were shattered when Liam was born; he was everything a baby was NOT supposed to be. He was born awake, and he stayed awake A LOT. As a newborn, if he napped for 40 minutes at a time, it was cause for celebration. Night times were worse, we couldn’t make an hour without him stirring and yelling for something to eat. He was a boob baby, and a formula supplemented baby, and he ate porridge at 3 months, all in an effort to make him SLEEEP. How he remained a cute, happy little boy on such sleep deprivation is beyond me. We soon realised that Liam was born ready – for EVERYTHING. He started teething at 3 months, walked at 11 months, started baby talking at about 4 months and real talking at about a year and oh my giggling granny, hasn’t stopped since. He is a real rough and tumble boy’s boy, does everything with gusto and dramatics, he is a ball of energy and I think he is destined to be a leader and not a follower. So when Hannah was born, all prim and proper, quiet as a mouse, a four to five hour schedule baby, and slept a full eight hours from about 3 months, we were a bit taken aback. She was a very calm baby, happy to just sit in her pram and watch the world pass her by. She hardly cried, she didn’t require much attention, other than watering and feeding here and there, and she was a total breeze to deal with. I used to say that Liam was blessed enough to get my antsy pantsy genes and Hannah got her Dad’s more laid back kinda genes.

Boy, was that short lived.

I read an interesting blog post, which supports my theory on the Power of Association. “The power of association and surrounding yourself with other successful people is a sure fire way to reach your goals and dreams much faster. The plain and simple truth is that if you are not spending time with other action takers on the same path to bigger things in life, then you hinder your own success.” It goes on to say: “…the outcome of who you are, the goals you achieve, the dreams you accomplish, the destiny you fulfill, all has its roots either as a result of associations you keep or maybe you personally. Let’s look for a good association, because it will determine your accomplishments.”

So now my theory.. since Hannah has been hanging around with her big brother, she has evolved into a little tigress. If I can use a simple example.. she evolved from one of those cute cuddly things in Waybaloo into that pirate chick in Jake and the Neverland Pirates, almost overnight (still cute and cuddly though). It seems even her physical milestones are being reached quicker, as a result of being around Liam. She only cut her first tooth at 10 months, but everything else has come at whirlwind speed.. she walked before her first birthday, she went from a quiet, introverted toddler who really only spoke when she was spoken to, into a word-a-second finger wagging, rule breaking toddler. I stand back and watch how she admires Liam, how she tries to imitate everything he does, how she tries to pronounce words like he does, how she tries these Evil Knievel tricks that get my heart racing. While potty training Liam, we used to let him wee in the garden – something that he hasn’t quite gotten over, even though he is fully potty trained. The other day I found Miss Hannah trying to wee in the garden with her brother, except she couldn’t get out of her press-studded vest so she was kinda leaning hip forward, legs apart, mimicking her brother who was creating a yellow stream across the yard. WHERE was my camera. She wants to be just like him, she wants to eat the same food as he does, and even though I know she doesn’t have an affinity for mushy foods – she won’t even eat mushy breakfast cereal or mashed butternut – if Liam is eating it, she will force herself to swallow it down with a sick look on her face.

I think it’s great that she has a mentor of sorts, that she endeavours to be just like her smart big brother, and I have no doubt that she will learn faster; that her mental and physical capabilities will develop quicker because she spends every waking moment with her mentor. But my concern is that she is also picking up on the not-so-admirable qualities of a strong willed two year old boy.. like the tantrums, the crying just because I feel like it, the naughtiness (and no, I don’t believe that children can’t be naughty). I know this phase will come regardless of who your child is, or who they spend time with, that’s just raising babies for you… but Hannah, at the tender age of 17 months, wags her finger in my face and says no no no no no, when I raise my voice and make big eyes at her to show my disapproval at something she’s done. She looks at me with that just-you-dare-try-it look when I reprimand her for touching something she knows is off limits, and runs away in a fit of giggles when I make as if I am coming to catch her to discipline her. She isn’t afraid of a smack on the fingers because she knows that Liam gets lots of those and he seems fine – she finds it all quite amusing actually. She looks to Liam when Dad raises his voice, to gauge how he reacts, so that she can do the same, because you don’t mess with Dad when he raises his voice, you see. She is a two and a half year old Liam in a 17 month old body – except her English is still pretty sucky.

My idea is to train Liam to be the perfect little well behaved, well mannered boy, so that she will pick up these great qualities from her brother.. but training Liam is like training a yappy little puppy who is just too excitable to listen or learn and just wees his pants when you shout and goes back to chew on that same piece of furniture no matter how many times you tell him not to.. its HARD!

So now that my hopes for a little princess in a pink organza tutu have been dashed, I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that Hannah will most likely be a tom boy, who only wants to wear camouflage and dig in the sand (boy, she loves digging in the sand!). And I’m cool with that, I just hope that Liam will grow out of his Terrible Twos phase quickly so that Hannah at least learns how to be a well behaved little tom boy.

No matter what, my kids are living proof that the Power of Association is real. Who are you associating with, and what does it say about you?

Also from the blog post I mentioned above, a thought provoking article by Gen. Colin Powell, which stirred my heart..

  • Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere, with some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it
  • Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life
  • Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships
  • If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl but, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights
  • The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve
  • Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity
  • An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people
  • As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on; they will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl
  • Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you