Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Aha Moment

I'm not sure I'm using the phrase "aha moment" quite the way Oprah does (and that's where I first heard it), but it seemed to fit the realization I had the other day.

You see, I'd been worried for awhile now that I was sleeping a lot more than I used to, and that my days were getting shorter because I'm often sleeping until 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. on weekdays when I used to sleep until 11 a.m. or noon most days.

But then I realized our family schedule has changed since Ellie left Kindercare and started at Touchstone Preschool back in June. And that's why my sleep schedule has changed.

When Ellie attended Kindercare, Scott and Ellie would get up at 6 a.m. and usually be out the door by 6:20 a.m. (It's a huge time saver that Ellie dresses for the next day before bed, sleeping in her clothes rather than pajamas and thus avoiding lengthy discussions about what to wear to go to school in the morning time crunch. We have them at bedtime instead, which is a little less anxiety-producing because it's not making Scott late for work if Ellie tries on five outfits before settling on the "perfect" one.) Ellie would get to Kindercare about 6:45 a.m., and eat breakfast there.

But Touchstone doesn't open until 7:15 a.m. and they don't serve the kids breakfast. In fact, the first snack isn't offered until 10:30 a.m. so it's pretty important that Ellie have something to eat before she gets there. (They do serve the kids lunch, which is a huge benefit since I can't imagine having to pack Ellie lunch every day.)

So now mornings are more complicated because we have the whole breakfast dilemma. At school, Ellie pretty much eats whatever they serve. Every teacher she's had has raved about what a "good eater" Ellie is. I'm convinced it's part of the peer pressure thing, just like with naps -- if everyone is doing/eating it, then that's what Ellie does too. And she learned pretty quickly that there weren't alternatives at school if she wasn't in the mood for what they were serving.

But at home, it's a different story! It doesn't help matters that Scott and I eat radically differently for breakfast. For other meals at home, it's easy to say, "Well, this is what we're serving. If you don't want to eat this, you can wait for the next meal." We make sure that there's something on the table that we know Ellie likes and eats, and it's a very rare occasion that we will get her something different to eat if she doesn't want what we're serving.

But at breakfast, Scott usually eats a Costco muffin. I generally have toast of some sort -- bread, bagel, English muffin. There's also often fruit on the breakfast table, especially over the summer when we've had tons of fresh berries of all kinds from the farmer's markets. But because Scott and I choose what we're going to eat for breakfast, we end up letting Ellie choose too. And anyone who's spent much time around preschoolers knows how indecisive they can be, changing their minds sixteen times in 10 minutes. :)

So not only do I end up being awake for a longer period to get Ellie and Scott off to school and work, but it requires a higher level of alertness and involvement than when they pretty much rolled out of bed and headed out the door during the Kindercare days.

It used to be that I'd go back to bed by 7 a.m. and sleep four to five more hours, usually getting up by noon. Now even though I'm just as tired, it takes a little more winding down and I'm not getting back to bed until 8 or 8:30 a.m. and usually waking up somewhere between 1 and 2 p.m.

And that pretty much explains why I'm sleeping later on weekdays than I used to. It's good to realize that I'm not really sleeping (much) more than I had been doing. It's more that my sleep is in more of a split shift than it had been. And that's a relief.

Of course, it's a little bit embarrassing that it's taken me so long to figure this out since Ellie (and I) have been on this schedule for three months now ...

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