Posts Tagged ‘nap’

There is a great article that came out a while back the CTFD Parenting Method.  CTFD stands for Calm The F**k Down and it is simple advice that I need to take to heart.  In my quest to be the best stay at home dad I can be I have become too uptight in these areas and need to CTFD.

1.  Noise: Loud or sudden noises sometimes freak O out including sneezes and loud coughing or throat clearing.  I often hold in my sneezes or cough into a pillow as a result.  I need to CTFD and remember that I am capable of calming him down when he is upset and that he has to get used to loud noises sooner rather than later.

2.  Naps: My son’s nap time is my downtime/time to get stuff done and as such I want him to get a good nap in every day.  That being said, I stress way too much about when and under what circumstances he goes down.  I need to CTFD and realize that when he doesn’t go down right away for his nap it just means that we can go play more or do something else.  Experience tells me that he’ll just pass out in the middle of whatever we’re doing so why stress about it?

3.  Preparation: I have a pretty elaborate routine for when I exit the apartment with O.  It includes many things like adjusting windows/shades and getting together an elaborate collection of baby related equipment that would probably allow little man and I to survive for a month in a fallout shelter .  I need to CTFD and learn that all I really need when I go out into the world every day is a smile and the cutest baby ever.  And diaper, lots of diapers…



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I have been doing much of my writing these last few weeks late at night after my wife and son have gone to bed.  You would think that being a stay at home dad and getting up with the little guy would mean going to bed early but that has not been the case.  Instead my natural night owl tendencies have been strengthened because  late at night is the only time I can write in peace.  There is nothing that can derail my train of thought and I can focus on what I want to say.  He is much more consistent with his sleep at night than during the day so I don’t feel the “Holy crap he could wake up any moment so I have to get stuff done” pressure and I am much more relaxed and focused on my writing.  I have also rediscovered the joy of playing my favorite classic computer games like “Wing Commander” and “SimCity.”  I don’t get as much sleep but I can sometimes recover the lost sleep during the day.  On days like this I sleep during his morning nap which is varies these days so there are no guarantees that it will help much.  I then have less time to get my daily tasks done so I have to hustle to get all of the housework and dinner prep done during his afternoon nap which can be as short as 1.5 hours.  It’s not a perfect way to address my need for time to blog and unwind but it’s better than the alternatives.

One of the alternatives to staying up late is to blog during his naps.  I put a lot of time and thought into my posts so it is not uncommon for a single post to reflect 3 or more hours worth of writing, editing, link creation, picture selection and research.  Sometimes I have tons of time on my hands because O decides to take longer naps but lately he hasn’t been doing that.  Between dishes, cleaning and making dinner that usable nap time disappears pretty quick most days.  So I might be left with an hour or two to blog on any given day.  Doable, but it takes me much longer than that to produce a post of any length or depth.  I also have a hard time finishing a post from a partially written draft so I end up taking longer per post and producing lower quality content.  I could write quicker but I do not want to churn out a bunch of short crappy posts written quickly while I stress over how much else I have to do that day and worry when my son is going to wake up from his nap.  I did this the first couple of months after I started this blog and did not like it.

Another alternative would be to write after we eat family dinner each night.  This would address my need for uninterrupted writing time but it creates other problems. The evening is when my wife and I can talk and spend waking time together.  It’s also the only time during the work week when we can all hang out together as a family.  It would be easy to use my computer in the other room for hours on end and write but I would miss out on connecting with my wife and son everyday and that would not be worth it.

The final alternative would be to do all my blogging on the weekends.  There’s plenty of time on the weekends right?  I could write multiple posts and schedule them to drop throughout the week!  My wife could take O when I need to blog and we would still have time left as a family.  Wrong again!  Both of our families and many of our closest friends are roughly 3 hours away so we are often out and about visiting them.  Don’t forget big projects and events like road races, spring cleaning, volunteer commitments, etc.  These types of things generally take away 2 weekends a month once you consider the time commitment involved.  Still think the weekends are a good option?

And so we come back to late night blogging.  I sacrifice some sleep so that I can get posts written and play computer games to blow off steam and unwind.  Is it a perfect solution? Certainly not but I will take the occasional day making due with spaceyness and a short nap during the day over the alternatives.  Which would you choose?

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There are a few things you need to understand about my dad and his house.  He loves clocks and has collected them for years.  He easily has a dozen of them and they are carefully placed throughout the first floor to create a most glorious clock experience for anyone fortunate enough to behold them.  They are rarely wound but on special occasions he will wind a few of them up so that we may all properly enjoy the constant ticking along with the dinging and gonging that comes from them 1-4 times every hour.  His oldest brother’s arrival from this past Thursday must have been a very special occasion indeed because he wound every clock in the house.  This is a rare treat for us because they are set for slightly different times so that the various chimes/gongs seem both highly precise and totally random at the same time.  The best part of all this is that despite the fact that the clocks were wound for just this occasion, my mother and I will get to enjoy the noise for weeks until the winding springs on the clocks are spent.

Another thing to understand about my dad and his house is that he likes to keep as much of it cold as he can.  I guess 65 isn’t that cold, but consider this: his wife has poor circulation and he has an infant grandson who is there most of the day at least once a week.  Do you still think 65 isn’t that cold?  There are only two zones on the first floor.  The large zone is cold and twice as big as the smaller zone.  It includes the dining room, hallway, bathroom, living room and the den and this zone has most of the clocks in the house.  It is also the least used part of the house.  The smaller zone is the family room/country kitchen which is the one part of the house that is kept at a balmy 68.  It is also where my son and I spend most of our time when we are there.

The last thing you need to understand about my dad and his house is that he hates answering machines.  “If they want to talk to me that badly they’ll call back later.”  Now you would think that he would have a cordless phone attached to his hip at home so he wouldn’t miss any calls but not my dad!  He has one corded phone on each floor.  Each phone has its ringer turned to 11 so he can hear them both ring regardless of where he is in the house or the yard or even the road.  We had an answering machine and a cordless phones with reasonable ringers and when I lived there but it seems reason departed when I did despite the fact that I left my phones and answering machine behind.

Now that you better ¿understand? my dad and his house I can tell you the story of last Thursday.  I usually visit on Thursdays and arrive sometime between 11 and 12.  My mom is usually attending an exercise class then so normally I quickly setup the pack n play, change O’s diaper, and feed him.  Then I put him down for a much-needed nap.  He fights sleep every time so this is not an easy task.  I usually spend at least 10 minutes kneeling next to the pack n play rubbing his back and repeatedly putting the pacifier back in before he gives in to sleep.  Thursday was no different, except that he slept like crap the night before so it took and extra 5 minutes or so for him to settle and he protested more than usual.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, O can sleep through quite a lot.  He cannot, however sleep through a loud clock chiming on the hour.  There are only two clocks in the family room/country kitchen and I knew one was wound because I could see the pendulum swing and hear the ticking.  I couldn’t remember my dad ever winding the other clock and I did not realize that it chimed almost as loud as the grandfather clock in the dining room.  It chimed, O promptly stirred, and I spent the next 10 minutes kneeling and soothing him back to sleep.

Once he was asleep again I took the clock off of the mantle in the family room and moved it to the mantle in the living room.  Crisis averted.  I put some laundry in and went back to the kitchen to make myself some lunch.  I decided to make an awesome sandwich from the amazing selections of meats, cheeses and condiments that my parents regularly stock their refrigerator with.  My masterpiece was complete and ready to eat when the next sleep disaster happened.  The phone rang.

I bolted to get it but it rang loudly twice and that was more than enough to wake O up.  I hung up on the telemarketer and unplugged the phone so that I could return to my spot next to the pack n play and get my son back to the sleep he so desperately needed.  He was asleep and I had my sandwich in my hand 15 minutes later when my mom walked in and said, “Hi son!” in her loud excited voice.  *facepalm*  I spent 10 more hungry minutes on my now aching knees soothing him back to sleep.  Once he was asleep I finally got to eat my now warm sandwich and visit with my mom.

By the time O woke up I had spent 50 minutes soothing him to sleep for him to only sleep for 1 hour.  He was immediately cranky and in need of diapering/food but thankfully he was in a good for the rest of the afternoon.  My dad called my cell to tell me that my uncle would arrive at 4 and to lecture me about unplugging the phone.  Apparently it didn’t occur to him that he should call my cell while I am there with O.  Oh wait, it should since I tell him that every week and he calls the house phone anyways!  He has gotten lucky and not woken O up yet, but I have always insisted he call my cell because I keep it on vibrate when my son is asleep.

So my uncle showed up and O was super cute as usual.  By 4:30 he was looking ready for a nap so I put him down and started to soothe him.  He was almost out when my dad burst in the door banging bags around and talking loudly even though I quickly pointed out that O was almost asleep.  Then he noticed that the clock had been moved and he went ballistic yelling about how its polished brass and I better not have handled it with my bare hands.  My 15 minutes of soothing went out the window and so I turned up the thermostat in the other zone and setup the pack n play in the dining room.  Twenty minutes later he was finally asleep.  I promptly hit the scotch and counted the minutes until my wife was to arrive.

All told, O napped for 2 hours and I spent 1.5 hours kneeling and soothing him.  To put that in perspective, he normally naps for a minimum of 4 hours and I spend an hour max soothing him to sleep.  The best part of all this is that my dad didn’t seem to get why I should be the one who was annoyed.  I mean, I had moved his clock and unplugged his phone right?  Except that the phone ringer didn’t have to be all the way up to be heard and the clock in that room did not need to be wound knowing an infant slept there on a regular basis.  I know there are random noises in that house that can wake a sleeping baby, but O is used to that and I use a white noise generator to soften most noises when he sleeps there.  My dad took the second loudest clock he owned and wound it in the only room warm enough for his grandson to sleep in.  What exactly did he expect?  And how exactly is yelling at me with an infant in the room going to make anything better?   It was great to see my uncle and he did inject some much-needed humor into the situation, but just thinking about that day makes me not want to go back because all those clocks will still be going for weeks and I am sure the phone ringer volume will be back at 11 when I am set to return next week.

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I have noticed lately that being a  stay at home dad has altered my sense of time.  I often find myself surprised when it starts to get dark outside, or when O shows signs of being ready for his morning or afternoon nap.  It’s really easy to space out and have a whole day go by just taking care of O in the apartment while meeting his moment to moment needs.  This becomes a problem early in the week when I don’t have any set plans to go anywhere.  It seems lately that my son and I aren’t getting out of the apartment enough during the first few days of the week.  There are several tools that can help to combat this problem.

The itzbeen timer was a great gift and it has definitely helped me keep track of when O needs to changed, fed, etc.  However, it does not help the aforementioned SAHD time warp.  That’s why I downloaded the ibaby app for my android OS phone.  It does what the itzbeen does but you can create custom buttons to track whatever you want plus create quick reminders and make time stamped notes with pics and videos to log what has happened during the day.  The main advantage the app has over the itzbeen is that you can look back over the day and see things like how many oz of milk your baby drank or how long they slept or how long its been since they pooped.  It also comes with quick log widgets for android OS phones that you can put on your home screen to make it easier to quickly log things on the go.  I enjoy being able to look at the log before I go to bed and see all that I did to care for my infant son and it definitely helps to fight the time distortion that comes with being a stay at home dad!

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I  went to my parents’ house late afternoon today to hang out with my mom.  That house is far from baby friendly but today I came armed with a secret weapon.  I had a mini pack and play in my trunk!  A family friend gave it to my wife and I while we were in New Hampshire for the holidays and I am excited to finally have a decent place for O to sleep when he naps at my parent’s house.  I usually go over once a week to spend time with my mom and do some laundry and up until now the only option for O was to sleep on a blanket/jacket combo on the rug.  Of course since I had the pack and play all setup and ready to go he decided that he wanted to stay awake and play.  He’s since gotten in a couple of short naps to make up for it but it seems like this is how things go these days.  At least step one in getting their house ready for our weekly baby time is complete!

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Taking care of an infant as a stay at home dad humbles me daily.  For example, about a month back I was feeling confident that I could put O to sleep every time I needed to as long as he was tired and I could use our glider recliner.  All I had to do was put his head near my shoulder, put the pacifier in his mouth and rock him to sleep.  It worked great for about 3 weeks and I was so proud of myself that I started telling people that I had figured out the secret and everything would be easier from now on!  Of course lately he refuses to be held upright in the recliner and my amazing sleep technique that I was so proud of discovering has been rendered useless.  I have been trying something new that seems to work pretty well, which means now that I have said that it will not work anymore.  Such is my life as a stay at home dad in CT!  Do any dads have any tips or tricks they have used to get their child to go down for their naps?

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Yesterday I got my first big lucky break as a stay at home dad.  The night before I felt the beginnings of a cold and so I had some orange juice and tylenol and went to bed.  My preemptive efforts were futile and I woke up exhausted with a nasty cold.  I took my shower and had some toast and juice.  My son, O, had been up to nurse and was ready to play! My wife left for work while I did my best to muster enthusiasm.  After and hour or so he was hungry again and went down for his nap.  He slept for three hours!  I took care of some daily tasks like dishes and picking up around the apartment and tried to get some more sleep.  When he woke up I fed and changed him before playing.  He went down for a three hour nap after that and woke up shortly before my wife got home!  I got really lucky, but its hard to imagine how I would have handled the day if he took his usual 30-60 minute naps.  I also found myself wondering if he was aware I was sick and was giving me a break.  Whatever the reason I feel like I got very lucky.  Any dads out there have stories/tips from taking care of a baby while sick?  I am particularly looking to hear from stay at home dads in CT but anyone is welcome to comment!

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