Plan of Attack for a High-Needs Boy and an Overwhelmed Mom. Part 4.

13 Jan

Well, folks, we’re almost done with this mini series on how Jaime is taking charge of her life.  What’s that you say?  You haven’t read parts 1, 2, or 3?  For shame!  Please take a moment to come up to speed.  Take your time.  I’ll just sit here and pick at my cuticles until you’re ready.

Today: Wake up and get involved.

What I recently walked into after one of Seabass' naps. Zoom in and witness the UNSTOPPABILITY of this cuteness!

I thank the good Lord above for giving me a baby who sleeps well.  It’s no secret how much I’ve wanted to give Seabass the best rest he can possibly get; without it, he is too miserable to bear.  So I’ve spent the past eight months irrationally, obsessively protecting his nap schedule, which has been a blessing and a curse.

The blessing, of course, is having a child who goes down pretty easily (never perfectly) in his crib for two regular naps and an early bedtime.  The curse is that I never, ever ever ever woke him, no matter what.  What’s the big deal? you inquire.  I’ll tell you what the big deal is.  We couldn’t participate in anything.  If the library hosted storytime at 11am and Seabass didn’t wake up until 11:30am, that meant no story time.  If the moms’ group got together at 3pm and Seabass slept until 4pm, that meant no moms’ group.  Church?  Nope.  It made for a pretty isolating existence, both for me and for him.

There was one week last month when Seabass suddenly started waking waaaay early from all of his naps – probably due to the emergence of his first little tooth – thereby allowing us to attend some of those activities we’d never experienced due to my Third Reich Nap Schedule.  First, it was Spanish story hour at the local children’s store.  Then it was a meeting of moms and babies to discuss nursing and sleep issues held at the lactation consultant’s office downtown.  (The moms discussed.  The babies mostly just drooled.)  In making it to these events, here’s what I discovered: SEABASS IS A LOT EASIER WHEN SURROUNDED BY OTHER KIDS.

He giggled.  He danced.  He stared with mouth agape.  It was wonderful!  Minimal fussing, squirming, back-arching or whining.  My precious little fishy has finally gotten to an age where he is interested in the world around him. 

When Jake and I saw this, we seriously considered enrolling him in some kind of part-time day care.  This, despite all my feather-ruffling about being a stay-at-home mom in posts past!  But the more I was home alone with him, the crazier we both got. 

Still, in the end, it just didn’t feel right to put Seabass in day care.  (Every time those words “day” and “care” came out of my mouth, I couldn’t help but cringe.  Say what you will: It simply isn’t the right option for us.)  But now I knew that Seabass was an extrovert – aka the exact opposite of me.  Though I love people and am usually the loudest one talking at the party, I really get my energy from alone time at home.  Jake, on the other hand, gets his energy from being out with people, although, strangely, he’s usually the quietest dude at the party.  Apparently Seabass takes after both of us equally: He gets his energy from being out with people AND he’s the loudest.

So I made up a list of all the free activities we could enjoy throughout the week and made a decision to wake Seabass up in time to get to them.  [Gulp.]

It started with Goldfish “swimming” lessons, which are really just sessions in the pool with other babies to acclimatize them to the water.  As the hour grew nearer and nearer for me to have to wake my boy up to make it to class in time, I grew more and more nervous.  What if he’s a tyrant when I wake him up?  What if he screams the entire time?  I was terrified.

But lo and behold, upon entering his room, my sweet baby awoke with a beaming smile and rosy cheeks.  We made it to class and, being a Seabass, the wee one enjoyed every second of being in the water.

Since then, I try not to make a habit of waking the boy for activities all over town, but when it happens, we haven’t regretted it yet.  Living in such a kick-butt town as San Luis Obispo, California, we have loads of FREE options, including:

  • Story time at Barnes & Noble (Weds at 11:15am, Sats at 11am)
  • 0-3 yr story hour at the library (Thurs at 10:10am)
  • Activity time at EcoBambino (Tues and Thurs at 11am)
  • Spanish music/language hour at EcoBambino (Fris at 11am)
  • Mom/baby lactation and sleep discussion at Growing With Baby (Weds at 11am)

Other activities for a minimal fee include:

Here’s the moral of the story: This is the first week that I’ve been involved in so many things with Seabass, and the extra effort it has taken to get us out and about is already paying off in spades.  He seems a little calmer and more satisfied, which is most likely a reflection of how much calmer and satisfied I am.  And yes, getting out to the pool for a long swim yesterday couldn’t have hurt.

I can’t stress enough what a surprise this is, being the home-body I am.  I generally truly hate leaving the house, not in an agoraphobic way – I just really like being home.  But getting out with Seabass has lifted my mood considerably.  And when we are at home together, playing with toys or sitting outside and watching Murphy mangle his rubber chicken toy (a favorite pastime), it is more fulfilling and relaxing than it ever was before.  [Contented sigh.]

8 Responses to “Plan of Attack for a High-Needs Boy and an Overwhelmed Mom. Part 4.”

  1. Sheri (Mommy Stuff Blogger) January 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Your little one sounds like mine. I have to take her somewhere to do something every single day, otherwise she gets bored, goes a little crazy, whingey, and hard to deal with, which in turn makes me go crazy, gives me a short fuse, an makes me not enjoy our time together. Sometimes we just go to Kmart, grab a ball, and kick it around the store (well, she does, not me). Sometimes we go to McDonalds where she plays on all the play equipment despite only being 18 months old (she still loves it and has managed to somehow climb up the whole length of the slides. Yes, the actual slides themselves. Little monkey). The best things of course are playgroups but they are not on during the school holidays so we have to be more creative.

  2. Auntie K January 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Wow two naps & early bedtime? I think the one nap your cousin K took occasionally was by the way side very early on- too much to experience I suppose- he always hated naps. I relate to the rest though. Homebody introvert here- with extremely social extrovert boy. How great to have all the fun things to enjoy with him in your town. Enjoy this precious time with him now, for it will soon be a sweet sweet memory!

  3. Valarie January 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Glad to hear you’re getting out and both of you are liking it! My girl is like that too…she (and I) lose it if we don’t get out. I have to get her out of the house EVERY day–even if just for a neighborhood stroll–or I start thinking things like, “She hates me!” or “I need a drink!” Not good. I started taking her to the park several times a week from six months old on…just to see other kids and nature.
    P.S. Check out Boo Boo Records free kids music/dance time Wednesday mornings.

    • jaimeclewis January 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

      Ack! I used to work at BooBoo Records and completely forgot about the free music/dance time with Miss Heidi. Thanks for the reminder, Val!

  4. Lorrie January 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Peyton and I went to Parent Participation in SLO last week and enjoyed it very much. Awesome teacher, wonderful moms and babies to play with. They have so many wonderful activities too!
    Thanks for the list of other fun things to do. I’m always looking for new (free) things to entertain us during the week.

    • jaimeclewis January 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

      Hey Lorrie! So glad to see you logging in here. Say hi to Kris for me. 🙂

  5. AKeo January 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Seriously, this week, you and I are just about one in the same. I was and still am the nap nazi. But found the same benefits you did in going out of the house to activities, with other moms and babies, in other places. I think they get bored, like we do at times. And they are a lot happier when they get out and about every once in a while!

  6. Katie January 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    This is what made my second baby experience so much more enjoyable. When you have a toddler in tow, the thought of watching the Today show till noon in your puffy pink robe is more of a nightmare than an option. When Annie came along we had all these activities for Judah that kept me from isolating and becoming a psycho mom. (I was an avid nap Nazi with Judah and thus felt like a prisoner in my own home). I still made a huge effort for Annie to sleep in her crib for naps and bedtime, but perfection was not the goal this time, my sanity was!

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