I knew things with myself and Adam weren't great. I knew it but I wasn't sure what to do about it for the longest time. As always, it wasn't a clear black and white issue. Even if I knew what I needed to do, I often didn't have the energy to do anything because of how bad nights had become. He was that baby that slept through by the time he was two months old. We enjoyed that for about three months, then when he reached five months, it all began to fall apart. We put it down to development, but then it kept getting worse and we weren't too sure it was just that any longer. It had become a bad, bad habit. He would wake up just to be held, and he wanted us to stand up while we held him. There were a scary amount of desperate hours of no sleep. And I felt hopeless and useless. I couldn't crack it, I needed to get to the bottom of it - for all our sakes - and I just couldn't work out what was wrong.
This was the point at which we began some sleep training. Now before any of you out there very anti sleep-training pounce on me, I do it very humanely. There's no Crying It Out in this house. No way. But there is an element of Controlled Crying. But take the recommended time gaps, and shrink them drastically. What we needed to make clear to Adam was that we were there, we loved him, but we wouldn't be picking him up and walking around with him for hours on end every night. It was about being firm and consistent.
It took a week, and he got it. We had full nights of sleep again and we were ALL the happier for it.
It was at this point that I suddenly saw the light: I needed to give more time to him. Now that any resentment was out of the way (judge me if you wish to, I'm no saint and yes I resented him for the endless nights of unrest), it was easier to enjoy him. It was easier to make the effort to play with him, entertain him. As a result of his better sleep, his daytime naps also fell into a better pattern so I was more able to work with and around them for outings.
So after I wrote that blogpost that day, about how I needed to do things for him, and not just have him tag along, I didn't sit on it. It was very basic, almost laughable, but our first outing was to the supermarket. I'd taken him with me before, but he was usually in the ergo, and I'd get on with whatever stuff I needed to do, and carry on, quickly, to my next task.
I realised that I never stop to show him anything, point things out to him, explain, tell him the names of things around him - as I used to do with Emily. And then I realised that the key isn't actually doing things for him, it's just about slowing down, living the moment. If I'm at the supermarket, why not point out the colours in the veggie section? (He loved that). Why not tell him what I'm doing, what I'm buying, why I'm buying it? I did this on a daily basis when Emily was young (I never stopped talking to her!), and yet with him, he just seems to be caught in a whirlwind of never enough time.
So I've slowed down. And I'm happier, he's happier, Emily is happier! I'm funnier (apparently). They laugh more. We do silly things, we dance, we make animal noises for no particular reason, we have random puppet shows from behind the sofa, we learn about things that are around us. And we breathe.
But on top of that, there have also been outings just for him. We now don't only go to the park when Emily is around. We go for walks, we run errands together still, but we stop to take in our surroundings.
A friend of mine posted a quote that same day I wrote that blogpost, which really hit home:
It is not enough that you love them, they must know they are loved. (Don Bosco)
And that's what it's all about.
We've met cousins and friends and he's enjoyed roaming around on the grass.
We've even been out for cafe dates together :)