The plan was for a family trip to Disney World. Our son has been a few times and is getting to enjoy it more and more with each visit. We had fairly high, but tempered, expectations for the weekend.
This weekend, however, we bit off a bit more than we could chew. In addition to the three of us, we also brought our two dogs (no one was around to watch them). Turned out that the dogs were actual the least of our problems. Our son does not like cars but we planned the trip around his breakfast and nap schedule so he would be entertained and then (hopefully) get some rest. He ate. He napped for about 20 minutes. The duration of the car ride was screaming and yelling and trying to climb out of his car seat (new one for us). Not a good start.
We arrived and had lunch, then it was nap time. He was not in the mood for that either. Screamed bloody murder for what seemed like an eternity. Took him to the children's play area where he had a blast tearing the place apart. Then to dinner and bedtime for him. We were in need of him to go to sleep as much as he needed the rest himself. He fights a bit but then goes down. Until he decides at 2:00 am that he is no longer interested in sleeping. We thought maybe something scared him or he had a code brown in his diaper. An hour plus later and the result is our son sleeping on me for the remainder of the evening. 6:00 am rolls around and, like clockwork, he is up and ready to go. We made it to breakfast, somehow, then got our act in gear and off to the park. Where he promptly falls asleep for 2.5 hours. Clearly he was exhausted and in need of rest.
The reason I recounted some of our trip, was to reinforce my message - your day/week/life should revolve around your child's sleep schedule. It may not always work the way you hope (like in our case), but it is important to try and maintain the schedule and the structure. Our son was back in his routine when we came home (morning nap, afternoon nap) and he slept through the night for the most part. He woke up happy and smiling.
A lot of parents tell my wife and I to just wake him up. We refuse. If he sleeps through an event or an appointment, so be it. We can make it up or sort out the issue. It may not always work the way we hope, but we will continue keeping his structured schedule. Obviously this will be modified as he grows and gets older, but its importance will not. .
"You look tired." "You could use some sleep." "Late night?" I hear these phrases and ones like it on a regular basis. It drives me nuts when people say it and takes it all of my restraint not to respond in a tirade.
The answer is "yes," I am tired. We have a young son in the house. He does not like to nap. He does not like to sleep in. (A good day for us is 6:30 am). When he is out of his crib (or out of his high chair) he is a nonstop ball of energy (which is great until you have to chase after him all day). Many of the people who tell me that I look tired are well aware that we have a son at home. I do not understand why them seem so confused when I say that I am tired. It should not be a mystery.
Whether I am tired or not, is not the relevant point of my diatribe. If I am tired, I know I am tired. Someone asking me or pointing it out only makes me more aware of it and begs the question of "do I look that bad today?" To me it is a lack of respect and common courtesy to point out someone's flaw, as in a case like mine when I probably have huge bags under my eyes and my eyes are half shut.
My request is a humble one. To all those folks who see people who look tired, keep it to yourselves. Yes, we are tired. We work hard during the day to support our families. We work hard to raise our children and support our families. Say something positive. Or if for some reason you cannot say something positive, stick to the rule "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing."
It is going to happen. Your child is going to get sick, it is inevitable. When your child gets sick it throws your entire world into a tizzy. Everything about your day to day life is impacted.
Your child may not want to eat. We can tell that our son is not feeling well when he does not want to eat. He is generally a good eater. But when he does not feel well, he may only eat a little soup as opposed to a full meal. We do make sure he keeps drinking lots and lots of water to prevent dehydration and to flush out his system.
Your child may not want to play. Our son generally runs around the house like a tornado going from toy to toy and room to room playing. And he is happy and smiley the whole way through. But when he is not feeling well, he tends to stay in one area and play with only one or two toys. We are actually okay with this part because it is easier for us as parents and less to clean up. (I know, I know...)
Your child may not want to sleep. This is the most difficult thing for us as parents to deal with. As I have said before, a child's sleep is the most important thing. Our son wakes up constantly throughout the night when he does not feel well and barely naps if at all. It makes him more tired and cranky and he becomes far more difficult to deal with. He was never a great sleeper. He does not want to sleep and when he does, he is quite sensitive to every noise in the house. This is worsened when he does not feel well. And when he does not sleep, no one in the house sleeps. So not only is he tired, but so are we.
The best thing we have learned to do is try and make him feel better (obviously) and be very very very patient. This can be trying at times, but we have to try and remember he does not feel well and he is normally not a difficult child. Once he gets better, our house returns to its normal order of mild chaos and happiness.