I would probably consider myself a “Sleep Nazi”, meaning there is not much that I will allow my children to miss sleep over. If it is naptime, we are home so they can nap and if it is bedtime, we are home so they can go to bed on time.
While on vacation I allowed for some missed sleep for both girls here and there and oh.my.goodness. Saturday evening, we thought our kids had been abducted by aliens and replaced with two girls who were cranky, whining, and having a meltdown over seriously every.little.thing. It was NUTS! Absolutely NUTS!
In Sweet Pea’s defense, she hadn’t reached that stage…yet! Probably because I did guard her sleep a little more than Little Bug’s because she is still so young and an overtired baby is absolutely no fun.
But Little Bug? Wow. The kid was delirious by bedtime. The combination of waking up early (which she does EVERY SINGLE TIME we go on vacation) and some shorter naps and she was a complete mess on Saturday. It is simply amazing what a lack of sleep will do to a kid!!
I was beginning to see signs of being overtired in Sweet Pea, too. She was not sleeping as long for her naps, and she was waking up early in the morning – two sure signs of an overtired baby.
Saturday night we put both girls to bed before 8pm. Sweet Pea hit the sack at 7:25 and Little Bug at 7:55. I don’t think I have ever seen Little Bug so tired in her life! I laid her in bed, told her goodnight and she turned her head and said, “Okay, I’m going to go to sleep now.” No adjustments in her blanket needed. No “one more hug/kiss” needed. She just needed sleep and she knew it! I bet she was asleep before I even closed her door. Sweet Pea woke up at 7:35am and Little Bug woke up around 7:50am. So both girls FINALLY slept 12 hours and got a good night’s sleep.
Early bedtimes really are the best “cure” for being overtired. Often times the misconception is that if you put a baby (or child) to bed early, they will wake up early. And while both of my girls woke up about half an hour earlier than their normal wake up times, (since they both usually wake between 8 and 8:15am), they got 12 hours of sleep and that is what is important when a baby/child is overtired. They just need sleep because sleep begets sleep. And since babies tend to wake earlier if they stay up later, early bedtimes are the best solution to help a baby get out of being overtired because babies tend to sleep longer the earlier they go to bed.
Vacation only reiterated to me that my “Sleep Nazi” ways are not insane. Sure it is very inconvenient at times to respect our kids’ need to sleep, but in the big picture, it truly is worth the sacrifices that must be made to have well rested children. Especially after dealing with those space aliens on Saturday night!
This is just my (humble) opinion but I think so many times it is just assumed that tantrums, whining and having meltdowns over everything is just “part of being a baby/toddler/preschooler”. I am certainly not saying that my children never throw fits or whine! (In fact, they do this when they are well-rested, but that is a matter of teaching and training a baby/child the correct ways to communicate what they want/need.) But what I am saying is that behavior is not the norm for my children and I do believe it is directly correlated with the fact that 95% of the time, they are well-rested. It is only when they are not well rested that I start to see an influx of these behaviors. Like I did on that Saturday night!
I would rather deal with sticking to nap schedules than having to deal with tantrums and whininess on a daily basis. Children do not have to behave like that – if they are well rested – and it is my belief that the majority of those types of behaviors can be eliminated if the baby/child is getting the sleep that they need every day. (At least it seems to work that way for my children.)
Once we got back from vacation we stayed home for two days straight. I put both girls down for early bedtimes and early naptimes to get them rested again.
And before you think we have no fun around here, we certainly do! There is a time for everything though, and when it is time to sleep, we will be home napping so the crazies stay away from my kiddos!
Last week was exhausting!!