I wish my daughter was one of those babies that can sleep anywhere. I wish she were a naturally good sleeper. But she is neither of those things, as she is a highly sensitive child who is always so transfixed by the world around her that she needs to be in a dark, quiet room free from stimuli (and in her own, comfy crib) in order to fall asleep and sleep well.
And I am pretty certain that this isn’t something that you can “train” a baby to do. I am a firm believer that every baby — every person — is different, and as a result, some are naturally more sensitive sleepers than others.
Take my sister and I, for instance. When we lived in Korea our house was attached to a manufacturing factory. I can’t recall exactly what they made, but I do remember that it was constantly noisy with machines running all the time.
Having grown up in such an environment I should be able to sleep through anything, right? Wrong. I have been an extremely light sleeper ever since I can remember and can’t sleep well anywhere aside from my own bed.
In contrast, my sister can sleep through natural disasters. Seriously. She almost slept through a fire in our building when we were little. She was sleeping even as the fireman carried her down the fire escape!
Before I became a mom I swore to myself that I would not be one of those parents who lugged their ill-behaved kids around everywhere, annoying patrons of restaurants, theaters, airplanes, etc with my children’s incessant crying.
Heck, even as a parent now I still refuse to fly with Claire unless it’s absolutely necessary (and if such a thing exists, I would happily pay more to fly on a child-free flight if I were traveling without my children).
And because Claire cannot sleep well outside the house — and because she becomes a cranky mess when she does not sleep well — I am, for the moment, tied to the house and to my daughter’s sleeping schedule.
I have a 2-hour window of opportunity between the moment she gets up to the time she should be sleeping next to run errands, go to the grocery store, etc. And keep in mind that I would still need to change her and feed her during this time, which usually takes about 30 minutes.
Claire also needs to be down for the night between the hours of 6 and 7pm.
So between her naps and her bedtime, there remains very little opportunity for this mommy to have a social life.
Which is perfectly fine with me. After all, I was the one who signed up to be a parent.
The problem arises when we have to cater to other people’s schedules. When there are family events. When there are birthday parties. When there are friends visiting from out of town. Because, you see, these all almost always require us to be out of the house for more than a couple of hours at a time, and/or they run past Claire’s bedtime.
Why don’t we just bring her out? Like I said, some babies are just fine out in the adult world. My daughter is not…at least not yet. Not only would I feel bad for the other people who would be exposed to a crying baby, my own stress levels would rise too and I would need to make an early exit after apologizing profusely.
Why don’t I just leave her with a babysitter? J has issues leaving our six-month-old daughter, dog, and our household in the care of people we do not know very well. And while we have family members who can watch the baby, they have lives too and can’t always be expected to drop everything to babysit.
I feel bad refusing invitations. I feel bad making people come to us, rather us to them, so that Claire’s naps and bedtime will not be ruined. And I feel bed ducking out early out of the few events that I do attend.
I’m sure some people are reading this and thinking that I’m being too neurotic. And I’m sure that some of those people include parents too. But apparently I am not alone. Reading threads like:
- “I hate going out….”, or
- “How far do you go to preserve bedtime and naptime?”, or
- “how is it that people on my birth board put their babies to bed at 10 pm and they sttn?” (sttn=sleeping through the night)
reminds me that I am not alone.
Surely at least one of my readers feel similarly?