Sinterklaas and the dentist

It may seem a bit late to write about Sinterklaas, as this happened a month ago, but I still want to share this special story about how Sinterklaas helped the dentist and only have some time now.

(Just some info first for those who do not know about the Sinterklaas tradition: Sinterklaas visits the Netherlands and Belgium (and some parts of France and Germany) on the 5th of December. He is similar to Santa Claus. He arrives with a steamboat from Spain and brings many presents. Children are allowed to put their shoe by the fireplace some evenings and sing songs about him, to get rewarded with some extra presents before the big day arrives.)

This year was a bit different. Not just because our boys were older and it got more intense and exciting for them. No, there was another reason. In September we visited the dentist with the boys and the dentist then said to them they had to get rid of their pacifier for the benefit of their teeth. She was very friendly and said they did not have to do it now, but that it was a good plan if they could give it to Sinterklaas later this year, so he could give it to a baby that needed it. The boys agreed with her and promised they would do it. So every other week for the past months we would remind them that soon they would not have their pacifiers anymore.

When Sinterklaas finally arrived they still agreed, but we of course dreaded it actually happening. They still really needed their dummy’s at night to fall asleep and we were not looking forward to the possibility of many bad nights.  But we brought up the issue daily now and said they could let us know what present they wanted in return. We discussed this often and by the 5th of December we finally worked up the courage to make them do it… The boys were brave, sang their songs and then put their pacifiers in their shoes. Then they went to bed without any issue! And slept!

The next morning they were still okay and happy with their presents. The week went fine without any sleeping issues. Here and there they asked for us, but nothing major. After a week one of them started to ask about his dummy, he wanted it back. But we talked about it, reminded him of the dentist and eventually he fell asleep. This repeated regurlarly but in the end, it went really well. We are now a month later and they never ask about it anymore.

Honestly, we were so surprised about this because they were really attached to their dummy. But I guess all the preparing really helped and they were ready for it. So this is why I had to share this story, because it worked. Finally no more pacifiers in the house.

In the middle of the night…

Some parents are lucky. They have children that are perfect sleepers. Or they only had ‘nightshifts’ in those first months after birth to do nightly feedings.

Not everybody is that lucky. Our boys are nearly 3.5 years old and they still wake us up very regularly so we still suffer from disturbed sleep.
You don’t believe me?  Well, let me make a list of the things that happen here in the middle of the night…

  • A bad dream
  • A lost teddybear
  • A lost pacifier
  • The blankets are on the floor
  • They have fallen out of bed
  • They need to pee
  • They peed next to the potty by accident
  • They forgot they needed to pee and wet the bed
  • They want water
  • They want milk
  • They want something to eat
  • They suddenly decide they want to play
  • They want to ask if it’s morning yet
  • They want to sleep in your bed
  • They want you to sleep in their bed
  • They want to sleep on the sofa
  • They want a different blanket
  • “There is a dog in the bed.” (Just to be clear, we don’t have dogs)
  • Growing pains

This list keeps growing. It seems there are endless reasons for them to wake us up. And so the black circles around our eyes remain…

Pyjamas

What do you wear when you sleep? … Okay, and now think back to the time before you had children. Is there a difference? No? Wow, I am not sure how you managed that.

See, before I had I my boys, my mood decided what I wore at night. If I wore anything at all. But there was definitely the possibility that I wore something that looked a little sexy. But those sexy negligees have been at the bottom of my wardrobe for some years now. It all changed when I was pregnant. I suddenly realised that I would be in the hospital for a while and might need something that covered everything if I had to roam the hallways. So I bought my first full pyjama since I was a kid: a pair of long soft baggy pants and a vest with buttons, so I would have easy access for breastfeeding.

Once the boys arrived I realised that one of ‘those pyjamas’ was not enough. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person that wants to walk around in pyjamas all day. But when you have to get up at night to tend to your children and you’re wearing only a short negligee, you’ll get cold very quickly. So then you have to put on socks, slippers, a bathrobe and/or pants, depending on the season. All this takes time and effort, and you are seriously sleep deprived. And now imagine doing that six times per night. You have to prepare for the worst every time, as you never know how long it takes to get your child back to sleep. So, very soon I had more soft and cosy but very not sexy pyjama pants in my possession than I had ever had in my life. Because really, the only thing you want when you are woken up in the middle of the night is to be back in your bed as soon as possible, preferably while you and your bed are still warm.

As the weeks and months go by, and you are still doing this 3 to 6 times per night, the negligees end up at the bottom of the pile. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it still has not changed. My children were born more than 3 years ago and I still have to get out of bed at night regularly to comfort them.

I don’t care about negligees anymore. All I care about is sleep.

Parent hack: record your songs!

One of the things that helps to calm down our boys when they are crying, is singing to them. I actually love doing that and it was especially nice when the boys were babies.
But honestly, I did get fed up with singing the same songs so often. So one day I decided to record myself on my smartphone.  I recorded an audio file of nearly 5 minutes of different ‘things’ that happen on that bus. The cat on the bus says meow meow meow. The bird on the bus says tweet tweet tweet. The pizza on the bus is yummy yummy yummy… whatever I could think of.

And wow, what a life saver that recording was! After we put the boys to bed I would play the song outside their door. I could clean up while they thought I was still there. It also worked great when I was home alone, had one of the boys out of bed for a feeding and the other one felt lonely. Or when I was so exhausted I could not remember the words to the song anymore.
And in the car, when they needed entertainment, I would just put my phone in the back playing my song. So much easier than singing loud enough to be heard over the combined sound of the engine and the wheels going over the crappy Belgian roads.
It worked so well I made a few more recordings so I could vary the repertoire J (row row row your boat, twinkle twinkle little star…)

Now that the twins are a bit older they like to sing along and they actually ask me to play the songs sometimes, while they are busy drawing or making puzzles. And when they are in ‘a mood’ I get a loud ‘noooo, not that song’, because they want to decide.
But the recorded songs still work at bedtime, when they are completely exhausted but don’t really want to admit that. Listening to my voice ‘usually’ calms them down. (not always of course…)

© Carien Touwen 2017