At least we hoped.
We have accepted that our child, for now at least, is a ‘waker’.
Cid was sleeping well, perfectly actually, up until about 5 months, and then things started to change. I put this down to growth spurts, teething (though he didn’t get his first tooth until 11 months!), new skills etc. This never used to be an issue as I always had the idea that when he was ready, the night waking would stop. However; progressing past 12 months; Cid still liked to get cuddles at least once but more often it was becoming four times a night. Part of this was due to not being refused a breastfeed at night, and a strong will demanding it.
A couple of months ago, while having a walk ashore with a spontaneous trip to the second hand book store; I came across Robyn Barker’s The Mighty Toddler for $2 and didn’t hesitate to buy it. I was given a copy of her book Baby Love when I was pregnant and referred to this regularly as Cid moved through the stages of development in his first year. I’m not saying these are awesome amazing books that a parent can’t live without however; I have found them helpful at times, particularly around issues such as sleeping. Some of the techniques discussed in the book and the causal way in which the author writes, gave us the confidence to do what we needed to do. We had to do some sleep training with Cid as the night waking was affecting our ability to function.
You may remember my post on values and how your individual/family values influence the decisions you make and the attitudes you hold to different ideas/situations etc. Living on a boat is not for everyone. Obviously it’s a smaller living space and our boat does not provide us with individual cabins/bedrooms. Cid had always slept in our room before we moved onto the boat; and for the very reason that we were going to be moving onto the boat, we did not bother moving him into another space and also, it’s not something that bothers us, as we enjoy the smaller, minimalist living space.
The book suggested being in a separate space for a least week so Damon and I came up with a plan of attack for the night time activities. While we were sleep training/night weaning Cid, I slept in the Port bunk. Damon spent the first couple of nights sleeping in the starboard hull with Cid to be there to settle him and offer water, then moved over to the other side for the rest of the training time.
The first night, it is safe to say, was horrendous. We were anchored at Cid Harbour (of all places), Whitsunday Island; and it was a pretty full anchorage. A charter boat had anchored exceptionally close to us right on dusk, which stressed me out a little. I said my apologies to the anchorage, like a prayer, before going to bed; but we needed to do this. Cid woke around 11pm and did not settle for approximately 4 hours; by ” not settled”, I mean he was screaming. He then fell back asleep and woke again around 5 am for about 5 minutes, then woke around 7am to start his days as normal.
The second night. We were dreading it; we thought this was going to be a repeat of the night before. The anchorage had thinned out, particularly around us (go figure). Cid woke twice for about 5 minutes each time, had a drink of water then collapsed back asleep. The third night, he woke once, again only for a few minutes then fell back sound asleep. A far as we were concerned, we had succeeded! We continued in this fashion for the rest of the week (just in case), and have not looked back since.
To tell you the truth, Cid has only slept the entire night (from 7pm to 7am) once and still continues to wake at least once for a small sip of water or a cuddle to then collapse back asleep. But this is o.k. We accept this as all children wake at some point during the night for various reasons; I’m sure all parents can relate to this. I found this blog post by Jodi at Practicing Simplicity, helped to ease my mind on this issue.
I am no expert on parenting, after all this is my first attempt at it, and it is still very new. With Cid moving into toddlerhood I feel the ‘parenting’ bit is really only just beginning. Even though in my professional life I have completed several lengthy trainings on parenting and behaviour management and assisted countless families build strategies to manage and overcome particular issues… nothing really prepares you for being a parent.
Damon and I discuss our values on parenting and raising a human being in general and work through the challenges together. Living in a smaller environment does not offer the opportunity to engage in counter-productive techniques… such as not communicating with each other. Although, to be honest there are times where we are challenged by this, we are after all human.
There are days where we say “this is really hard”; having a toddler on board. Ocelot can be single handed by Damon, no worries; and when it was just the two of us, it did not matter if we sailed overnight or in strong winds and swelly seas, but with a 14month old on board, this is virtually impossible; made more so by the fact that I, at times get sea sick. This post by Windtraveler really says it all about having young children on a boat. We have to respect Cid’s needs while we are traveling, and plan our sails around this.
We have a few “bigger” days ahead of us which we hope to not do very often as Cid is at an age where he is more interested in practicing his new skills such as walking, climbing, reaching and throwing and often this is not easy to do on a boat underway for a number of reasons, weather dependent. But, it is manageable, more so now that we are all getting a good nights sleep (generally).
We have just spent a few nights off Bowen, which has given Cid the chance to spend some quality time with his big cousins which has been great fun! The next leg of our journey will take us to Townsville and Magnetic Island and we will perhaps feel our journey has truly begun.