Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Escape Artist

We have a problem. He’s figured out how to break free from his prison, aka the crib.

It all started innocently enough, or so it seemed. My son, soon to be two years old, has never been a great sleeper. Despite reading every book on the subject, despite trying numerous methods of sleep training (including letting him cry it out), he almost inevitably wakes up at least once during the night, sometimes more often. And he often, maybe 80% of the time, ends up sleeping in our bed.

For the past two years, I have gone through various phases of sleep deprivation, where I have gone from being determined to get him to sleep through the night in his crib at any cost…to resigning myself to sharing our bed with him. Anytime we would make some kind of progress, something would happen to set us back…vacation, sickness, etc… For awhile, my husband had some kind of magic touch, but my son soon decided he preferred to make mommy crazy than tolerate having daddy deal with him during the night.

Last week, I went in to his room for the now routine middle-of-the-night putting him back to bed. He tossed and turned in my arms for about 30 minutes until he looked at me, pointed at my bedroom door and proclaimed “Dodo mama bed” before squirming out of my arms, running into my bedroom and climbing into my bed. This happened twice last week.

On the weekend, I found myself feeling completely crazed from weeks of interrupted nights and after angrily tossing my son into my bed with the snoring and oblivious husband, I went to the basement and spent the next hour tossing and turning on the couch while I stewed. I vowed then and there that it was time to let my son cry it out the next night no matter what.

So I did.

But clearly I am no match for my son. At almost two years of age, he has the size and brute strength of a three-year-old. It only took about 10 minutes of hysterical crying and screaming for him to decide that it was time to jump the proverbial fence. Just as I was coming back into his room to check on him, I heard a huge bump. There he was, on the floor.

Once I determined that he was generally unharmed, aside from his bruised ego, I couldn’t help but laugh. He had outsmarted me once again.

I thought that maybe the fall would have been too scary for him to repeat the experience, but the little guy is persistent. He did it again last night. This time, I had padded the floor with extra blankets just in case, so the landing was softer but clearly his technique has improved and he is now officially a crib jumper.

So what the heck am I supposed to do now? I don’t think I can let him cry it out again. If I put a gate on his bedroom door, will I reinforce that his room is a prison? The only thing I think I can do is convert his crib into a daybed. Then he will no doubt escape on a nightly basis, but at least I won’t fear for his safety anymore.

Maybe it’s time I just resign myself to never sleeping again… However, I would appreciate any tips from parents out there who have similar “prison break” issues!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Living in an ‘on demand’ world

Source: via Christina on Pinterest

Happy New Year! Hope your holidays were as fun as mine. I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that the word “vacation” will not be synonymous with the word “restful” for a very long time. I took two weeks off from work, and between lots of family activities for Christmas and New Year’s, we kept our vacation pretty busy with play dates and social activities.

In our down time, we tried to enjoy the winter weather and play outside with our son, but it’s not terribly easy for an almost two-year old to navigate through piles of snow with a snowsuit on and all that other gear. So I will admit that we often plopped down in front of the TV just to keep him entertained when nothing else interested him. And I have to say that he’s getting pretty hooked.

I know, I know, you’re not supposed to let kids watch TV under the age of two. But I’ve never felt like that was realistic in today’s day and age. Sometimes, you need to let your kid veg in front of the TV for a short while so you can get things done without being interrupted. Let’s be honest – we’ve all done it. Also, since starting daycare, he has been sick a lot (as chronicled extensively in my last several blog posts). When your child is sick, TV becomes your best friend.

As such, my son has developed an obsession with two big celebs in the toddler world: Elmo and Mickey Mouse. I thank my lucky stars every day that Barney is no longer popular, or I would probably have lost my mind long ago. That being said, I’ve realized that it’s easy to feed this obsession. My son is a child of the PVR generation. Between watching videos on You Tube, on our iPad, DVDs, PVR’d and “on demand” episodes of his favourite shows, it’s all Elmo and Mickey, all the time.

When I hear those pleading whines for “Mickey, mickey, mickey!” or “Elmo, Elmo, Elmo!” it’s too easy for me to find my nearest device, call up an episode or clip of his choosing and his demand is satisfied. Tantrum averted.

In my day, we had to walk five miles in the snow to get to school! No, wait, that’s not right. Let me try that again. In my day, we had to wait until Saturday morning to watch cartoons! True, Sesame Street was on every day, but you had to wait to watch it on PBS at 10 am. My parents were not exactly the kind of tech geniuses who knew how to program the VCR to tape our shows. Even if they were, I’m pretty sure they would have laughed in my face if I had made that request.

Times sure have changed, folks. That crazy interweb has made it so easy to satisfy our demands instantly. When we want to know something, we just Google it. We have an iPad, we have WiFi… ta-da… instant gratification! Now my son just has to see our iPad and he automatically whines “Mickey iPad!”

So I can’t help but wonder – am I teaching my kid that he can have what he wants, when he wants it? Is that the way the world really works? I guess it is these days… What a change from our own upbringing when we only had a fraction of the toys and entertainment and had to find ways to entertain ourselves using our imaginations.

With every new app, website or technological advancement, we as adults are enchanted and captivated by all the really cool things we can now do. I mean, sometimes I think Songza must have been designed with exactly me in mind. And I’m not just talking about widgets and social networking – the most important thing on my tablet is my online banking app. It has simplified my life to no end.

I guess I feel like mixing children with technology is a bit of a double-edged sword. In some ways, I don’t see any value in keeping them from using it as it is a part of our daily lives. On the other hand, I hope that my son will always have a part of him that will be fuelled by his imagination. That he will always see two laundry baskets lined up in a row and automatically play with them as they’re a choo-choo train. His daycare educator assures me that he’s very creative and makes up all kinds of games to play with his friends, which I love. I just have to make sure that he never loses that creativity and that I don’t one day lose him to the TV / web / video games (or whatever else is invented in the not-too-distant future).

What do you think? Do our kids have it too easy, living in an “on demand” world? Do you limit how your children watch television or use technology?