Friday, April 27, 2012


This past few months, I've gotten into a certain rhythm with my schedule. I teach on two days of the week, and I have two and a half days of research, and I have an afternoon that is either for running errands or as what I like to call 'mommy time,' which usually means a trip for ice cream and a pedicure.

That 'mommy day' is usually Friday.

This morning at 6am, I got a text from our daycare provider. One of the risks of using an in-home daycare is this: my childcare is really reliable and somewhat flexible except when there is an illness in the sitter's family. Apparently, she was up all night with food poisoning and so the Bug had to stay home today.

On the surface, this doesn't look like that big a deal. After all, I didn't have a single appointment or formal obligation today. I had two planned tasks: retrive Teddy the Very Important and Irreplaceable Lovey from Mother's Day Out and pick up a postal money order to try to get out of a traffic ticket. Beyond that, my plan was to write my weekday quotient of 500 words and then get a pedicure. So my disappointment at discovering that I could not have the day I had intended would seem a bit selfish.

But. My research is a job, even if I'm the only person I know who really thinks so. It is job number two.

The pedicure? Honestly I need it to remind myself that I'm more than a sociology-reading, gibberish-writing, paper-grading machine.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some Thoughts on Toddler Sleep

Children's sleep is different than adult's. As adults, we cultivate sleep, we seek it out, we seek out optimal conditions for it. Or we put it off, trick our bodies, and attempt to control it. After we've slept, we evaluate it, categorize it and discuss it. When it isn't going right, we see doctors who specialize in it to help us fix it. In other words, sleep is something we do.

Children, particularly toddlers, don't view sleep in this active sense. For them, sleep is something that happens to them. It sneaks up and gets them Indeed, the average two-year-old doesn't even get that the bad mood and difficulty completing simple tasks is a result of needing to sleep.

I'm sure this has to do with brain development or something. I suspect that a milestone we never talk about us when the wee little people can recognize physical causes to their unhappiness.

Think about it, you never hear a toddler say 'please may I go to bed' and with a few exceptions, you never see an adult slumped over their dinner plate snoring.

But until the Bug reaches the developmental stage wherein she recognizes her own need for sleep, what is there to do? As best as I can figure, the wise course of action is to create optimal conditions for sleep to overtake the Bug. My goal with this is to make going to sleep not scary, and waking up somewhat pleasant. I try to make sure she's warm and clean and has a full belly, that she's calm and knows she's loved.

This is why I'm suspicious of the entire concept of sleep training. If their little brain isn't ready to actively go to sleep, then all the training does is alter the conditions in which sleep happens to the child. I think if she's warm and happy and not totally alone, sleep will develop comforting, happy associations. If she's alone and crying, it will become a scary thing that sneaks up on her.

So, while parenting her to sleep is time-consuming in the short run, I'm hoping it makes for a happier sleeper in the future, when I can say 'go to sleep,' and it will have some meaning for her.