This week with Tilly has been a corker. We’ve done little out of the ordinary but for a variety of reasons it’s been one of the easiest and most enjoyable since she was born, very nearly two years ago. It’s made me realise just how far both she’s come and we’ve come as a family. While it’s common to mark the big achievements such as walking and talking, countless smaller but significant milestones pass by uncelebrated, such as the end of crying at certain times of day or the myriad other steps that transform a baby into a proper little person. This post is dedicated to remembering those smaller moments.
Before I sound like an annoying parent from one of those forums boasting about their unfeasibly glorious child, I should state that it hasn’t been a perfect week. Tilly is going through a phase of asserting ownership over everything and has been getting grumpy when not constantly topped up with food BUT overall she’s slept and napped well, been playful, content, extremely communicative and more responsive to reason than ever before. She’s taking more of a lead in what she wants to do and it’s making for a happier time.
Sleep makes or breaks a day. This week Tilly has largely slept well and waited for her Gro Clock in the morning, while napping for at least an hour and a half, often without needing to be resettled.
This is all a far cry from where we were just a months ago when Tilly was regularly waking at 5am and demanding to rise and napped only for 45 minutes before needing to be resettled. Rest was scarce and it took its toll.
Aside from introducing the Gro Clock, which has reliably moved Tilly’s waking time to 6am or later, I don’t really recall when things improved. While we don’t have an abundance of sleep – I hear other parents at playgroups moaning when their children don’t sleep in until 8 or 9am – that bit extra goes a long way.
There’s a psychological benefit too. As someone whose brain buzzes with everything going on when I’m trying to rest, knowing there’s a good chance of an uninterrupted night’s sleep greatly aids the switch-off process. The need to listen out for tell take waking noises is diminished and the permanently on-call parent can rest a little more easily.
It can be intensely stress-inducing for parents and while we’re still some way off seeing the back of crying, it’s appearance in our day is for the most part a shadow of what it once was. Last week saw several good days that were pretty much crying free.
Again, the benefit has got to be psychological. Parents are instinctively tuned into their child’s cries. It can be debilitating when it’s a constant through day and night. Bit by bit those chains are being loosened.
A biggie for us has been the morning where cries have now normally been replaced with calls of “Mummy! Daddy! Up!” (unless the service is too slow in which case it may still turn into some cries). By and large, though, not being woken by crying every morning has been a great progression.
Crying is largely used in the absence of language and when communication comes along, as it has with Tilly in a big way now, word take over. Even in the past couple of weeks Tilly has learnt how to explain if something hurts or even if her nappy is giving discomfort. It does wonders for diagnosis.
Rejection of food is still common but Tilly’s extensive food-based vocabulary has taken both the guesswork and frustration out of mealtimes. In need of more rice, fish or yoghurt? She’ll ask. Want to watch something cooking? Likewise. Changed her mind? Not a problem, now we know.
Although this opens new avenues of pickiness such as wanting a specifically coloured bowl or cup, it also allows influence, such as showing her an episode of I Can Cook on CBeebies making something I want her to eat. The success rate is remarkably high.
Lugging a heavy infant everywhere is hard work. As a late walker pretty much everyone was complaining of a bad back when in the autumn Tilly finally took to her feet. Although she can now demand to be carried, by and large she’s glad of her independence, as are our backs.
All in all, being able to be (very) clear about what she wants combined with full mobility has completely transformed Tilly’s life in just the past six months and by extension ours too. There’s long been a desire to be able to do more than her infant body will allow but through being able to reach much of what she wants and asking for the rest, Tilly is that much nearer her goals and farther away from frustration.
Getting to where we are now has been hard work. There have been no end of challenging ‘stages’ but we’ve survived (just). More is to come – we’re on the cusp of the terrible twos – but for now let’s pause to celebrate hard times behind us and enjoy a few good days.
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