Out of my parenting comfort zone

July 23rd, 2009 by Ruth Leave a reply »

One of the things I have found the most difficult since having Catherine is getting out of the house, particularly anything that involves long car journeys and/or staying away. This was probably brought on in the very first weeks after Catherine was born, when I tried so hard to throw myself into the “new Mum” thing – going out to NCT get-togethers, music classes, massage classes, and everything else I thought a new Mum should do. I got more and more stressed as Catherine spent more and more of her time outside of the home awake and unhappy. After one particularly unhappy NCT coffee afternoon, where I spent the whole time literally holding the dummy in Catherine’s mouth to keep her quiet, I decided something had to change, and I battened down the hatches, and got a proper daytime routine in place.

Part of the problem was that Catherine really doesn’t nap well outside of her own bedroom. She’s always slept shorter at nursery than here, and I’m lucky if I can get 30 minutes out of her in the car. And when Catherine doesn’t get enough sleep, she gets grotty.

It’s taken a long time for me to start learning how I can “flex” Catherine’s routine when needed, and as she’s grown older she’s become more willing to be “flexed”. And I’ve been really pleased that we’ve managed to start getting out and socialising again – I’ve missed everyone!

This weekend we hit two major milestones, things that I’ve thought we ought to try doing for a while. First of all, on Friday night we went over to Austin and Lynne’s new house to see it, and have a takeaway and play some board games. Originally John’s Mum was going to babysit for us, but she didn’t feel well enough, so we were stuck with either not going, or taking Catherine with us. So we stuck the travel cot in the car, packed Catherine’s travel Grobag and set out to see what would happen.

Catherine was an absolute darling. She enjoyed the cook’s tour of the house, and tried to chase Austin and Lynne’s cats. She spent ages washing her hands in the handbasin (the latest, Lady-Macbeth-type obsession!). She was later than usual going to bed, but we tried to stick to our bedtime routine as usual, and bless her – she went straight to sleep in the Pickles’ spare room!

Come midnight and time to go home – she scared us a bit by waking up very easily, as soon as we walked into the room. She was then wide awake for the whole car journey home, but when we got in and put her in her cot she rolled around a little bit, but then went back off to sleep. What a good girl.

The next challenge came on Saturday – a two-and-half hour journey to Birkhamstead and it back for a friends’ daughter’s second birthday party. Any long journey that we have done like that before has been when going on a week’s holiday, and we’ve taken slowly, trying to fill the whole day, with a good stop part-way through. Not possible in this case. One the way down we tried setting out before lunch in the hope Catherine would sleep a little first, then we could have lunch, and perhaps a full tummy would send her to sleep again for the rest of the journey. She fell asleep quite easily in the car, did her traditional 30 minutes and then woke up. Thankfully she was happy to sit quietly for a bit, so we got a good chunk of the journey under our belts before stopping at a service station for lunch. She ate well, enjoyed a little roam around the services, and only had a small whinge when we put her back in the car. She didn’t sleep again, and I had to sing with her when she started getting a bit fractious, but we managed to make it to our friends’ house.

Again Catherine slept like a dream. Again she was slightly late to bed as there were fun party things going on, and we all ate late, but she went to sleep without complaining, and slept right through. We didn’t take the baby monitor with us, as John thinks I should learn to live without it. We slept in the room directly above Catherine’s, and we would have heard her if she’d yelled, but I set my alarm for 8am to be on the safe side, as these days she tends to wake up and play in her cot until I go in to her, and I wasn’t sure I’d hear that. I slept soundly until rudely awakened by my alarm, and as I was getting dressed one of our hosts knocked on the door to day she thought Catherine was awake – there were some shuffling noises coming from her room. What a good girl.

Coming back we tried things slightly differently, and ate lunch before setting out. I wanted to see if Catherine would sleep longer than her 30 minutes with a full tummy. Sadly not, but she was tired enough to sit quietly in her seat until we stopped at the services on the M6 toll. Cups of coffee for me and John, a slice of cake for Catherine and we set out again. Again, whilst she didn’t sleep, she was good as gold, and we got home without any yelling from any of us 🙂

So that’s two new things to add to my list of stuff I know I can do. It’s liberating to think we can go somewhere for an evening and get Catherine home and back into bed. It’s great to think it is now feasible to visit some of our further afield friends and family.

My next challenge is to try all three of us sleeping in one room – I’m still nervous about that one…


1 comment

  1. Paige K says:

    I briefly scanned this. 🙂 sorry not more time.

    Wanted to share that we recently all 3 slept in the same room for a week at the Outer Banks, North Carolina. It was fine. Zyler (19m) took pretty good naps and slept great at night. His “schedule” was thrown off quite a bit but he adjusted beautifully. Most kids really seem to be mostly flexible. 🙂 I totally identify with your anxiety, though. The long car trips were a bit tricky and exhausting for all of us!

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