The 3 things I knew before I became Mama

Before becoming a Mama I knew a few rules my littles would definitely live by, like no screens before 2, no sweets until preschool, and no cosleeping. Lol I love how I thought this would a realistic, it shows how young and naive I really was about this whole parenting gig.

The first rule, no screens stems from the barrage of Facebook parenting experts posting articles stating the screens are the root of all evil. That if your child even glances at a screen before the age of 2 you will be battling the screen issue for all eternity. These articles were not all anecdotal some of these sources were pretty credible like the American Association of Paediatricians, so with experts like that making the recommendations they must be followed right? Righ?!?

I have to say that this was a rule we were really good at for about 10 months, but for this Mama who was fortunate enough to have a full year of maternity, but lives 20 minutes out of town and doesn’t function well when the isolation starts to make her feel like a recluse, she needed a little more than the sounds of talk radio during breakfast. So the breaking of this rule was completely selfish, I needed Monkey to give me just 10 more minutes to think straight in the morning, and get just a little more tea in me before facing the day. This is when Studio K, and more specifically Scout came into our lives.


Scout is a purely Canadian show that will make any banjo loving, biodynamic eating, Hunter wearing millennial’s heart swell. The program is about 7 minutes in length and focus on the subject of mindful living and critical thinking through solving a daily mystery with 3 clues. The first time I watch it I cried and wanted Monkey to be a Gumboot Kids too. This was then end of no screens for Monkey. 

Now his screen time is still extremely limited, but he can have a little screen time to catch up with Scout in the mornings with a sprinkling of Paw Patrol and Beat Bugs from time to time when Mama needs a little more time. 

My second thought on parenting was no sweets before preschool, because in all reality no one needs chocolate, or ice cream or cake or cookies right? They are just refined sugar and have no health benefit whatsoever so why would I feed that to my little…. Ummm because if you only did things in life that had a physical, intellectual, financial benefits we would never have fun, or learn from our mistakes. 

For close to a year Monkey thought plain full fat Greek yogurt was ice cream. He ate is every day for dessert. Then one day, about a week before is first birthday when he was eating his dinner and I was eating a Blizzard I had picked up on our way home from a play date. Because vanilla ice cream looks like plain Greek yogurt he wanted some. This was the end of rule number 2. And how could you deny a little something that is this cute

And lastly the rule that we broke the fastest. Absolutely no cosleeping. We were not even really open to room sharing before Monkey was born. We wanted him to go from hospital to nursery. We thought why have more transitions than necessary, plus wouldn’t everyone sleep better if they were in their own spaces? 

Although I believe this is very true and if we are blessed with another monkey we will most likely not cosleep, there are so many benefits to doing so as well which is how we fell down the rabbit hole. When Monkey was discharged from hospital part of his discharge plan was that he room share. So we went out, bought a pack n play for him to sleep in. 


In the beginning we kept Monkey awake and when he woke up both Michael and I were both awake leaving no one rested for the day time. But eventually we all got used to one another and everyone was sleeping better. Then when Michael left to work out of town the cosleeping began, because it was just me and Monkey, all day for weeks at a time; and it was so much easier to just cosleep. 

And even though I believe there are wonderful things that can come from cosleeping, this is not for us. It caused far too many bumps in the sleep training road, but I am glad I tried it. 

After just over a year of Mommying I have come the conclusion that I was definitely a much better parent before Monkey came along! There are so many ins and outs and ups and downs that arise once your little comes you can’t even imagine how your points of view change. So for all you Mama’s to be out there, write your rules in pencil so you can adjust accordingly. And for all those Mamas out there adjusting their plan every day you are not alone… we are all making this up as we go along.

What was your biggest parenting misconception pre baby? Let me know in the comments below!

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The well rested baby


One of the best parts of navigating this parenting thing is having someone who is a little ahead to guide you, and someone who is a little behind you to impart your wisdom on. For me these were a great work colleague living just down the alley and the other is my sister in law, and after talking for hours with both of them we have all come to the same conclusion…

A well resrted baby sleeps best!

Now I know this goes against all the advice you were probably given when your baby first came home… At least it did for us. We had a ton of the “just keep them awake for as long as you can and then they will sleep through the night”, “don’t let them nurse to sleep you will never be able to transition them to day care”, “when my little first came home…..”. Thankfully Michael and I always responded to these comments with “Monkey was premature and has different needs than your child, but thank you for the thoughts”. 

And boy am I thankful we listen to our instincts on that one! At nearly 15 months old our little Monkey still sleeps about 4.5 hours during the day and 11 at night, and what I have discovered is when those naps in the day time don’t go so well, we find ourselves up a few times through the night and it can be a week or so to get us back on track. Leaving this Mama exhausted by the end of the turn around and usually a new tooth on its way to throw a wrench in the routine.

The key to our success was consulting with a sleep trainer in our area and choosing a plan that worked for us, because Monkey was not always a great sleeper. In the beginning he was a I will sleep well if we co sleep kind of sleeper, and this was not conducive to our family unit! In consultation with this amazing support we chose our method and stick to nap routine: 

  • Up at 6:30am
  • Nap 8:30am-11am (max)
  • Nap at 1pm until at least 2:30 but as late as he wants

Rules:

  1. Never wake baby unless it’s past 11am 
  2. Never vary from the routine during the training time

And I’ll tell you after about a week of this we were napping amazingly and only getting up once for a feed at night. Now that night feeds are no longer necessary we have a little who sleeps all night, the majority of nights!

In the beginning all this time sleeping had me worried that something was not quite right but my doctor reassured me that he is fine and to be thankful I have such a wonderful sleeper. What really made me confident about the well rested baby is when we get all our naps and uninterrupted nighttime sleep in we have a little who is happy the majority of the day (no high chair or car seat tantrums), who eats his meals and seams to learn so much so quickly. 

I know every parent needs to do what’s best for their family, but I challenge you to give it a try. Good long naps in the day time, for a few days and hopefully your little will be sleeping through the night too. I know the rule around our house is “never mess with the nap schedule” for a reason… a well rested Monkey means a well rested Mama! 


What are your tricks for a well rested baby? How did you get your little to sleep through the night? Let me know in the comments below!

Mommy Moment: Getting Some Zzz’s

When Monkey first came home we were so worried about sleep, not so much about our lack of sleep, but about whether or not he had enough sleep, would he wake himself to feed, would he stop breathing… and all the other things you think when you are suddenly entrusted with a life. In the beginning (except for the first night) Monkey was an amazing sleeper. He slept great in his pack and play in our room, he transitioned flawlessly to his crib, and as of the night of his 4 month immunizations he slept through the night 12-13 hours! Those first few nights I thought there was something wrong with him he was so good at sleeping through the night.

At 6 months Monkey had another litany of doctors and public health appointments, I think that week he had at least one appointment every day. At each of the appointments I was asked how he slept. I said “I think he is doing really well with night sleep, but he doesn’t nap… like AT ALL”. When I explained that he went down at 7pm and would wake between 7am and 8am most days I was told that, that was great and not to worry about him not napping. Which sounded reasonable, everything I had read so far talked about how babies his age needed about 15 hours of sleep a day, which if you included sleeping in the car and stroller was pretty darn close. But what these articles and professionals fail to notice is that MOMMY NEEDS A NAP! 

The majority of Monkey’s first 8 months Michael was working out of town on a 2 weeks away 1 week home rotation, which meant that I would be solo parenting as I like to call it. This was unbelievably difficult, especially around month 6-7 when Monkey went through a week where he refused to sleep unless he was held or we co-slept. A night or two like that with no one to hand off to in the day time for an hour or so just to catch up was a struggle. I was so exhausted, and there was very little I could do to remedy the situation, I didn’t sleep soundly when co-sleeping, and if I didn’t do that he just screamed. 

Thankfully I have a mommy friend, Deanna who’s little went through many of the same struggles as Monkey so she understand very well where I am coming from. After a visit to the park with the kids and explaining what Monkey’s sleep schedule looked like she recommended an occupational therapist who had helped her with sleep training. This was probably the best piece of parenting advice I have been given so far. 

I got in contact with the therapist but was hesitant because Monkey has an amazing strong will, and neither Michael nor I was open to cry it out. Thankfully we had learned how to stand our ground with what we thought was best while he was in the NICU, because cry it out is the fastest and most readily prescribed method of training.During our initial consult we were shown 4 methods of sleep training and decided to go with the “pick up put down” method as it was the softest approach with the least amount of crying. What I can tell you is that this method is HARD, but it was so worth the effort. 

It took about 10 days for Monkey to really get what was going on and that he would be sleeping in his crib but once he got it things have been amazing! He has continued to sleep for 12 hours a night, and then two naps during the day about 90 minutes to 2 hours a peice. At first I really missed him during his naps because I was so used of playing with him all day, but as time went on I got used to the nap schedule and it has made a world of difference. We have only been on the routine for about a month now and I can tell you I get so much more done, I actually eat 3 meals a day again and I am energized when he wakes up because I either napped or watched a little trashy tv to relax. Not only did I feel better Monkey imidiatly became in amazing eater and his skills started to develop so quickly. Everyone always said that he’s so happy, and now he just glows.

After such a positive experience with sleep training and having been given such awesome advice I need to pass this along to any parents and parents to be out there. If you are expecting, read as many sleep training books as you can now so you can have an idea about what you are comfortable with. You may not know you have a problem sleeper until you are too exhausted to read anything. If your little is new and sleeping great, take some time to do some research about routines. 

You always hear about the horrors of babies screaming all night when they first come home from the hospital but from our experience except for that first night new born sleep is great. It falls in 3 hour cycles and they love sleep. It’s when they get a little older and decide that they would rather be with you playing and snuggling or have developed a sleep crutch that you could notice that bedtime is not such an easy thing. And if you were like us and find yourself too exhausted to read the research, talk to your family doctor or paediatrician and they will be able to connect you with resources in your area that will help you. And don’t feel like you have to choose the first method that is suggested, there are so many sleep training theories out there because there are so many different families and they have all worked for some of them. Some are more work than others, but choose what’s right for you and baby. Trust me you will be forever thankful.

The things I have noticed about myself with this change is that I am more relaxed, and confident. I know that if he has one bad sleep we can always make it up with he next one. I know that if we sleep in or have a special event that comes up how to adjust his naps, and which naps NEVER to adjust. I know that I will get the sleep I need or at least a power nap to get me to bedtime if needed and that Monkey will be in a better mood because of it. I am able to read books again, that was something I naively looked forward to when I was pregnant… I even considered starting my Masters because I would have so much time LOL!!! Oh if pre-mommy me only knew the truth. I can cook healthy meals from scratch again and I can relax and take a shower without having to peek around the shower curtain to make sure Monkey was still ok and not crying. 

I will say it again, sleep training has been a blessing, and I am forever thankful to Deanna for having the courage to point out that I might need a little support. As a side note, if for nothing else sleep training allows for so many more pictures like these:

(He always sleeps with at least 1 leg in the air!)


Mommy Moment is a weekly post that covers my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a mom. Come by every Monday to read about what it’s like to be a once career focused mom of a premature baby, who sometimes solo parents, loves cloth diapering and often bites of more than she can chew.