Monday, January 27, 2014

Differences in parenting (during a sleep regression)

(Our lil angel!)

On our journey in becoming parents, there are so many different parenting styles that we are faced with (co-sleep or crib? Baby led-weaning or spoon-feed? Free play or structured play?) And don't even get me started on the tricky area of SLEEP!

Not only does the average couple have differences in parenting - but the intercultural couple usually has more of the differences (mainly due to cultural differences in child-rearing). We have been pretty good about our parenting styles, and we've actually clashed less that I thought we would.

But...over the holidays we clashed a bit over a sleep issue. Parents - have you ever heard of a sleep regression? Well, let me tell you...it's a bitch! Your child is sleeping perfectly through the night for months, and then...BAM! All of a sudden, she's up....all the time. We totally turned from happy, normal parents into schizophrenic, bickering zombies!

Sleep regressions can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It is a natural occurrence in a child's growth, and it is very common. They usually occur during a child's growth spurt, and can be intensified by teething. A sleep regression can also mean that your child's sleep patterns are changing. Oh, parents...we are so flexible!

Babies may have sleep regressions at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years. They may have all of these sleep regressions, or just a few of them. I remember Maya had hers at 4 months, 9 months, 12 months, and now at 17-19 months.

This recent sleep regression was by far, THE WORST. The other ones lasted for 3-4 weeks...and this one lasted for TWO MONTHS! We thought our little angel would never return back to normal! But alas, she did....as if nothing ever happened!

During this time, we clashed on how to handle this sleep regression. Husband-ji used to comfort her by going into her room and holding her in the rocking chair for up to SIX hours - and then he would be a mess the next day because he had got no sleep. My idea was that she needs to be put down to sleep horizontally - so she needs to sleep either in the crib, or with us. Of course, husband-ji did not want to listen to me.... and then he finally admitted that he secretly liked to hold her, since he misses her when he is at work all day. I thought that was sweet - but then I said, "What good will all that do if you're not sleeping? It's not healthy!" So then he finally gave in, and we brought her to sleep in our bed for a week or two. And then soon enough, her sleep regression was over, and we put her back in the crib at night.

Another thing we clashed over is what TIME to put her to sleep (I know - sleep issue AGAIN!) Husband-ji wanted to "put her to bed whenever she's tired", except the bedtime kept pushing later and later...and all of a sudden, Maya was sleeping at 11pm! It was almost as if she was jet-lagged. So, then, (ever the mother) I had to put my foot down. I consulted my other mom friends who have children slightly older, or the same age - and they all said that they have a strict bedtime at 8pm. And then I remembered how at my grandmother's house, she always had dinner on the table at 6pm, and bedtime was at 8pm. Kids do thrive on routines!

The only thing, was that I had to convince husband-ji of this. He thought I was being "really strict", because apparently "there is no baby schedule in India" - but even my MIL agreed with me that "children should eat in a timely manner, and sleep in a timely manner". I told him that I was not being strict - that I merely knew by my mother's instinct what time she was ready for bed, and as MIL had said - it was more about "timely good habits". Of course, I had to word it in a very sensitive way, with the help of dear MIL on my side...

Husband-ji was off work during the holidays, my inlaws were visiting, and Maya didn't have any of her baby classes going on. So, I let it go for a little while, but I did warn husband-ji that these late-night sleep habits were only temporary - because her swimming classes were starting again in January. And he agreed to that, thank god! So it all worked itself out, in the end...

In terms of parenting, I haven't been right about everything (although I'd like to think I am!) but sleep seems to be my area of expertise in our parenting relationship. Husband-ji has been right about the issue of feeding - often times I used to be scared that Maya was not eating enough, so I'd overfeed her until she'd vomit...and husband-ji said "she will eat when she's hungry", and now I go by his advice.

Luckily we haven't had too many clashes - we both have the same idea of neat-eating, ideas of discipline, potty-training, and we are both on point about her naps. And we have different "play" styles - but of course, in that, it is good to be different.

Clashes in parenting styles are kind of like a tango dance - you take a step, I take a step...I let you lead, you let me lead. It's definitely a compromise. Sometimes husband-ji has to compromise to me, and I to him. But whatever the style - you have to do what works best for your family. What matters is that we are a team. And if it isn't working, then there are endless methods to choose from! 

As fellow parents say, whatever works!!!

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What do you think, dear readers? As parents, have you ever dealt with a sleep regression? What things do you clash about as parents - sleep, feeding, discipline, etc?


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6 comments

  1. My husband was not used to schedules and rules for kids, but he saw that there was some great merit in them when I insisted on a no later than 8pm bedtime, because that meant more time for us to talk without distraction. Recently he was also amazed at another western concept and support it 10000% despite all those around us thinking it is weird: not giving in to a child's every whims and desires. Ishi has started wanting to buy a lot of things, all the time, so now she is through a system where she actually has to earn the thing, right now she is dead set on a doll stroller, but while she is too little to understand the concept of allowances, she is not so for the concept of earning points to go toward something. So now her stroller will cost her 50 stars, she can earn two a day for good behaviour and helping around cleaning her room and such, if she is really good she gets a bonus star. On most days she earns one though because I don't give them if I had to repeat the same thing 10 times and had her refusing to pick up her toys, or eat her meals, or keep her things neat. What we are hoping to teach her with that is a sense that things have a value, and that what you do in life has consequences.

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    1. That is an excellent idea!!!!!! One of my friends does something similar with her two kids, she said it helps with their behaviour. What age did you start doing that?
      I agree, kids going to bed early = more time for adults to relax! Win-win!

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  2. Hey Alexandra,

    Your post really struck a chord with me. Our daughter is five years old but I still remember the nightmare that is sleep regression. Never again!! (Can you tell I don't do well with lack of sleep?)

    The husband is American and I am Indian and the cultural differences did pop up when it came to child rearing, but a lot less than I thought it would. One area in which we are quite different is when it comes to food. When our daughter was 3, the husband was quite content with plopping a plate of food in front of her and letting her eat. I, on the other hand, would feed our daughter. We agreed to disagree on the feeding issue because my husband was brought up on the former and me on the latter and we turned out just fine :-).

    The husband is also all about independence and letting our daughter put on her own shoes and clothes. I am still all about dressing her myself (again, this is how we were brought up). I think that in the end what matters is that both parents should agree on what will be done, even if it is a case of agree to disagree, you do it your way and I will do it my way.

    One thing we are both very consistent about is sleep time- 8:00 PM is sleep time no matter what. Even if she is not sleepy our daughter entertains herself and goes to sleep by herself.

    Raina.

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    1. OMG lack of sleep is the most difficult part of parenthood, I used to sleep for 10+ hours before kids!
      The cultural differences are less than I thought I would be too...
      I am slightly more Indian in the sense that I still spoon-feed my daughter and I hate messy eaters. Lots of my friends and family do the baby-led weaning which just looks like a big mess to me, I could never do it!
      I like to dress our daughter too, it is just more fun for me ;)
      I encourage independence in other ways, like just letting her run around more, but I always keep a watchful eye. My hubby prefers to carry her ALL THE TIME, when she is walking now.... I also like to take her out all the time to play areas, while hubby likes to stay home with her. He has gotten better though, now he realizes I specifically take her out to get her really tired for a nice nap! :D
      The only thing is the sleep thing....!

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  3. @Alexandra

    Children need discipline eating and sleeping habits. Easier said than done. Parents have long working hours. Even if you leave on time, it takes good one or two hours to reach home through traffic/metro. Indian traffic has increased but Indian roads are still not ready except in cities like Delhi where the British made fantastic wide roads. I reach my home at between 7.00 and 8.00 PM. Then there is child home work for one or two hours. It takes a child half an hour or fortyfive minutes to just settle down and study naughty as they are. In between you have to dash the weekly vegetable market twice a week for vegetables, as they are cheaper there. Imagine coming home with body pain and then driving your scooter to the market. The dinner time then pushes to 10.00 PM. I get up every morning with aches and niggles from the previous day's travel in metro. My wife is fatigued from the running the household. You have to stand as no seats are available. In India, you need enormous amounts of strength to survive metro/bus ride or traffic jams. We are like marathon athletes trying to test our physical strength to the maximum each day.

    Some Indian families do eat early and sleep early traditionally. It also depends upon communities. Some of them have simple one or two dishes dinner others need a more elaborate dinner. We are all used to our mothers cooking and, therefore, expect and elaborate meals which is not always possible in these busy times. Indians meals typically are made from scratch which takes time. Now a days, TV has become our constant unavoidable companion. Saturday and Sunday are more busy because you have to finish work which you missed our on weekdays. Crazy life.

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    1. Yes, my SIL who lived in Bangalore had similar problems, it took her THREE HOURS per day to commute only a short distance with her baby, then she had to come home and cook etc.
      It is also harder if both are working - with the time crunch.
      I can't imagine dealing with such terrible traffic commute....we live a 7min walk from my husband's work place, thank god. It makes life sooooo easier.

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