We’re travelling tomorrow, but before I go and ruin everyone’s (read, Mabel’s) new good habits by dragging her across the ocean to a continent five hours ahead, I thought I should document them. For posterity, and because by the time we get back I’ll no doubt have more things to say.
Two Fridays ago, there I was moaning to a friend about the terrible night Mabel – and therefore I – had had, when I realised that I was now undeniably one of those annoying people who complains about a situation but never makes a move to change it. Which is fine if it’s on my blog – right? Right. – but not fair to people standing in front of me who are too polite to just throttle me for not getting on with it.
Later that morning, Mabel and I had a little conversation.
“Oh, Mabel, when are you ever going to stop having mumeet?” I sighed, and she replied, “When I’m four.” She may have said this before, and I never took her up on it because it sounded so far in the future that I was hoping for something a little better, but now suddenly, it sounded like an acheivable goal.
“Okay then,” I told her, “we’ll stop when you’re four. But we’ll have to start having a bit less, so that we don’t just stop all at once. So from now on, we’ll only have mumeet in the morning and at naptime if you take a nap, and at bedtime.” And all night, which was implied and understood, if not actually said.
“So now you’re just nursing her three times a day and all night, and that’s good?” you ask, shaking your head to get the buzzing sound out.
Yes, because she’s finally learning that there are other ways to be happy without just grabbing a boob at the merest hint of personal grumpiness. Even though there have been days when she’s gone a long time without – from before school all the way to naptime, or even beyond if she didn’t nap and we were busy – those were probably the exceptions, and she was pretty used to having a little sumpin’ sumpin’ before lunch, or after nap, or around 5pm, or just to keep her going till bedtime.
But I made some wonderful discoveries:
- I can say no, and if I keep saying it she will eventually go away and do something else.
- She will accept a cuddle instead of nursing, if I stand firm.
- She’s quite willing to take a chocolate chip and a mini marshmallow as a post-nap treat instead of nursing (this is a short-term thing that will be phased out, honest).
Of course, once she figured things out, she realised that it was to her advantage to nap, or at least try to nap, because then she gets a hit in the middle of the day. I’m happy to do this, so long as she naps reasonably early, and to take the resultant fallout of later, more long-drawn-out bedtimes for a while, as it’s all in a good cause, and really, who’s to look a gift-nap in the mouth? But if she tells me at 3pm that she wants a nap, it’s no way Jose and she has to make do with a cuddle on the sofa. And she does.
So. It doesn’t solve my night-time problem, and the wearing of the underwear has once again receded into the dim and distant, most of the time, but I think it’s a good step forward. When she’s used to it, and when we’re back from our trip, I’ll make some other change, like moving bedtime mumeet to the sofa and letting Daddy do bedtime, on days when she’s really tired because she hasn’t napped.
The other thing we’ve been doing lately is having B go into her the first time she wakes, the time that’s a paltry two hours or less since she went to bed in the first place. It’s usually around 10pm. The first night we did this, despite having been warned in advance, she cried hysterically, with the heaving and the gulping and the pushing him away and then taking an hour to calm down once I did go in. But we’ve done it most nights since and now she just grouses at him until he goes away, cries for me, and nurses to sleep pretty quickly. Once, just once*, she fell back to sleep without any further intervention, and I did a happy Snoopy dance. But even without that, since she’s accepting his presence more readily, I see progress, even if I’m not sure what exactly the progress is moving towards.
Eventually, it will all fall into place. Won’t it?
*Update: Well, stop the presses, she just did it again! Or he did. I don’t care, so long as they can do it without me.