I haven’t been watching Spielberg lately, but I swear some extraterrestrial has come in the night and taken away the Griner (my groan-meets-whining toddler) and replaced him with the most delightful almost-three-year-old you’re likely to meet. Or not. Or maybe his mom finally got a clue. Yes, that’s probably it. Finally.
And the surprising part is that the transformation pretty much boiled down to one thing: sleep — by reinstating the afternoon nap we thought he didn’t need, and by bringing it forward and curtailing it to an hour (so he doesn’t mistake 10pm for Happy Hour). As for the early morning wakings, I told Mr G to try getting ready for work downstairs as part of a weekly trial. The theory being that the combination of our squeaky old hardwood floors and adjacent family bathroom meant that LGO was perpetually waking up before his body clock was really ready, with resultant grouchiness to rival the green garbage can monster.
And what a revelation this week has been! Each morning without fail he woke up after 7a.m., and was so agreeable I had to pinch myself. Like his mom, it seems lack of sleep turns LGO into an ogre (and not the charming Shrek variety, either). Don’t get me wrong, he still melts down with the worst of them. But it’s not every five minutes. And it doesn’t even feel like every five minutes. So when he does kick off, I’m more equipped to deal with it without baring fangs.
There’s been no hitting or screaming (ok, so minimal hitting and screaming), and my son has been wooing me like you wouldn’t believe — I can’t get enough of his cutesy singing when he launches into C is for Cooking in a gravelly, pseudo monster voice. And every time he calls out, ‘Mommy’, I get a little buttery inside. Heck, I don’t even get offended when he tells me that my legs feel ‘picky’ or that he wants me to ‘shampoop’ his hair.
Motherhood may still be a job built on a series of tedious routines, but increasingly I feel like Jimmy Stewart, poised and ready to lasso the moon and yank it down the second my little one asks me to. So THIS is what it’s all about.
Part of my epiphany came from reading about intense or ‘spirited’ kids as they are known in polite circles: about how much of what’s dubbed misbehaviour can actually be nipped in the bud simply by safeguarding a child’s sleep. Sound like an overly simplistic tweak? Consider this mom converted. R.I.P. Griner…
Julie M Green (aka Little Green Mom) is a novelist and freelance writer who rants and raves about all things mommy at Little Green One. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two-year-old son, Jackson. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.
How long should 2 year old sleep and nap? Once your child turns two his/her afternoon nap will shorten just slightly to about 1 to 1.5 hours and nighttime sleep will slim down to 10-11 hours. Most 2-year-olds need just 10 – 12 hours of sleep in total a day.
How long should 3 year old sleep? A three to five year old usually sleeps between 10 and 12 hours every night.