I was going to start writing about a parenting book I’ve recently picked up. It’s called Toddler Taming – sounds like it’s a book for wild toddlers’ parents but actually it tells about milestones and different – ahem – issues you can have with a lil tot. I flicked through the ‘Sleep’ section.
Now, I’ve got a 4 year old who will not stay in his room. When it’s bedtime, he will fall asleep with one of us in the room with him – not necessarily in his bed. Then sometime in the night between 2-4 am, he will creep into our bed. Sometimes he will cry and I’ll wake up and pat him back to sleep. Mostly he creeps in very sleuth-like and I wouldn’t even realise he is in the bed until his kicks wakes me up (so fidgety even in his REM sleep) or when I realise I no longer have my space/pillow. Mostly we get on with it, sometimes it is ah-noy-ying.
I guess looking back, we have come far with him. He was so difficult to put to sleep as a baby. It involved a lot of wild rocking, singing, crying (both me and him) and a whole lot more rocking. I tried the cry-it-out when he was around 3-4 months – failed miserably and I couldnt handle it. I did get him to cry less after some reasonable -expensive- advice from a sleep consultant. Yes, you heard me right. I paid for an individualised online sleep consultant advice and book. That was how desperate I was (totally recommend it though – ‘The Baby Sleep site’ – it tells you what to expect from newborn, different age groups, why babies/kids wake up in middle of night, babies sleep physiology). I also read the ‘No cry sleep’ book – which is oookkk. It helps you have some advice you can take to get babies to sleep better.
It wasn’t until my ex-consultant went ‘YOUR 10 MONTH OLD STILL SLEEPS IN YOUR ROOM? GET HIM OUT!’ She reasoned he should no longer need night feeds but just wanted it for comfort. Now at that point, I was sleep deprived, doing my oncalls, commuting two hours a day and I have just had it. I need my sleep and space back. (He was waking up every 2 hours, crying and hard to put back to sleep unless there’s ME. And I felt guilty when I’m not there on night shifts and M has to put up with not being me.) So we did it, it was trying week but he went to sleep on his own in his own cot. We moved house a few months later, and his cot has to be dismantled for awhile. Then he started sleeping on our bed again and it was so hard to get him to sleep on his bed. I was HEAVILY pregnant with Ayman and I had to sleep in his cot – he must have been 2 year plus. I guess a lot of it is that I didn’t follow through on keeping him in his bed – I was either tired or just wanted some sleep after a long day at work. He can now sleep in his bed but the issue is him creeping on our bed. I’ve been trying to get him to creep onto Ayman’s bed instead – HAAA! It SOMETIMES work, lol.
Anyway, so I’m reading this toddler taming book. The thing I love about it is that it is old-school, which might seem uncomfortable to take for the more new-age parents. It gives advice on when to be firm and I think that’s useful, because sometimes when I see my patients’ attitudes, I just wish there’s more ‘firm’ attitude from the parents. I dont have it with me right now but I’ll copy and paste once I have it.
The other book I do recommend is ‘French Kids Don’t Throw Food’. Read here for my review on it.
The thing is with all these parenting books and websites:
- They are not be-all/end-all for parenting. We can only wish there’s one big manual that helps for all the kids. There are some things that you think – nah I can’t do that. Especially with some kids. Like with zayan, I’ve learnt he needs more reasoning when I tell him to do something. It’s best to tell him in a calm, reasonable way and when he’s in a happy place. The more I get angry, the more he wouldn’t listen to me. Ayman on the other hand (even though he is still a baby, I can see the difference in personalities) are more easygoing and alternates between being ‘scared’ – he will follow what you say- and ambivalent.
- Over time, I realise I shouldn’t put myself (and the kids) in such high expectations. I find myself in a ‘I’m a failure’ state when I read these books. Like WTH, it didnt work that easy for me.
- Take it with a pinch of salt and follow your instinct.
Recently, I’ve been trying to get Zayan to read/learn alphabets. It is so hard to get him to focus and sit down. The ‘Toddler Taming’ book says that there is no academic difference between a kid who learnt to read at 4 and at 6 years old. Most kids learn to read between 5-6 year olds. Phew. That made me feel so much better. It says that it’s better to give kids that time to play with them. Those are the times that can never be returned back. Kids that learn to ‘read’ at an earlier age may be good at ‘rote’ learning aka memorising and identifying letters through patterns, but it’s better to teach letters and numbers and reading in a contextual manner.
Sometimes I worry about all these things I’m not teaching him. Like maybe I need to sit down with him more and learning about numbers and letters and writing. And memorise dua/surah. He is not a ‘sit down’ happily kid. His attention span is like Dori. So I need more innovative ways to teach him. The thing is he picks up phrases and letters and words without me realising it. My childminder said that he is saying more italian words to her, even though she doesnt speak to him with it (she speaks to her husband and kid).
I love his imagination though. This is what he told me recently in our bedtime conversations. We were quiet and the room was dark already. He suddenly said:
‘Mama, I want a bigger house.‘
Oh really? Why? More space to play?
‘Mm, no. I want four rooms. And robot bed.’
What does robot bed do?
‘Hoover. And shoot.’
Oh no, but our house will be destroyed if robot bed shoots!
‘Robot shoot outside wall!‘ (He looks at me like I was being a noob)
‘You can have robot bed too mama, and Ayah and Ayman.’
Oh Zayan! I like how you chose a bed that hoovers too. How awesome would that be? And everyone of us can have it too!
Anyway, I think I have to remind myself from time to time – that if my kid grows up as a kind, tolerant, self-controlled child who is generous and respects people, I’ve done half my job. As Nouman Ali Khan said, it’s better to teach them the characteristics of a muslim before teaching them to read/memorise the Qur’an, for then they are already learning the contents of our book.