My New Alarm / by Leslie

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Recently, like a little alarm clock, Milo is set to go off at 7am every morning. He wakes up in a good mood and starts to make noises. He's quiet at first but quickly works up to short little yells. It's happy yells, but it's impossible to sleep through them. They are generally accompanied by his hands pumping up and down and if I'm too close I get batted at. "Wake up Mom! It's time to start the day!"

If you know me, you know I like to stay up late and sleep in. In college I would sleep until 1pm sometimes, but recently (before Milo), sleeping until 11am was lovely on the weekend. I called myself a night owl and preferred late nights watching movies to sun rises and breakfast.

For the first four months of living with Milo he was not on any particular schedule or routine and sometimes he would sleep longer or stay up late longer and I would get to indulge myself with my old habits. But now that he is not really a newborn anymore, he has naturally developed pretty consistent wake-up and go-to-sleep times of 7am and 7pm respectively, and there is no more denying that my old way of life has to change. I have to become an early bird and embrace this waking up early, otherwise I'll just be grumpy all morning.

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Along with accepting my new early morning wake up call, I've got to try to get Milo on a routine. We already have a few things that we do pretty consistently, but rather than leave things like napping and eating to chance I think it's healthier for him to know that play time comes after breakfast and nap time comes after that. Kids love routines and it helps them anticipate their day better. I hope it will also help Milo sleep better.

It seems early, and it's going to pretty much cut out any evening activities for us, but our night time routine starts at about 5:30 when Chris comes home from work. A typical night would be that Milo eats dinner, plays with Dad, has a bath twice a week, gets ready for bed with a diaper change and into pajamas, reads a few books in his dimly lit room and then we rock in the rocking chair to a lullaby CD or white noise (hair dryer, but soon to be replaced with a sound machine) until he is drifting off. Then we lay him down in the crib with his taggies blanket and his monkey to fall the rest of the way asleep by  himself, usually between 6:30 and 7:30 depending on whether he had a bath, how long play time was and how tired he is.

I'm still working on the day time routine, but it starts at 7am with him waking up, playing in bed with us for while, then a diaper change and get dressed, breakfast and then playtime in the activity center. He usually goes down for a nap 2 hours after he wakes up. After his nap I nurse him, change his diaper and then we can go out to do errands, play or go out for a walk. One of the things I am trying to do is get him to nap longer in the morning. Usually he goes down for only 45 minutes, but I would like to get him sleeping closer to 2 hours. He has another nap around 1pm and from 3pm - 5pm is more awake time.

So, we are working towards a more predictable day and with that, hopefully, better sleep! I sure do miss those long stretches of sleep I used to get. Feeling like my life is a bunch of short naps is tough and being perpetually tired is even worse. But you know, it's ok. Waking up to an alarm clock as cute as Milo is something to treasure. When I am bleary eyed and miserable, and he flashes one of those blazing smiles at me and squeals like he's never been happier, I can't help but smile back. And as soon as I smile at him, I feel that welling of love, and who can be grumpy through that?