Wednesday, 26 December 2007

My home is my fortress

Our Xmess holiday came and went as we came back to Melbourne on the evening of Xmess day to find a very weird looking city: It's only the second time we're in Melbourne itself during Xmess day itself, and the desolation seems awfully weird. It felt like those apocalyptic films where Charlton Heston is the last person alive.
Today, Muhammad Ali day (otherwise known as Boxing Day) is the day in which I am going to tell you about the main lesson from our holiday's adventures, namely - how is it like to go out for a few days with a 5.5 month old baby?
Funny you're asking.

Well, lesson #1 in going out with a baby is to do with the room arrangements. Simply put, it's a problem to share your room with the baby. Honestly, as a parent who has had the baby in the baby's room as of day 1, I can't understand parents who have their babies with them in their bedroom. It's bad enough with the baby monitor, but how can you sleep with every slight nudge or moan coming from the baby?
It gets worse. Our routine dictates putting Dylan to bed at around 19:30. Which is great, because it gives you the night for yourself, but is also severely limiting when you're in the same room with Dylan. For a start, he kept looking at us, thus staying awake instead of sleeping. Then we had to lower the volume on the TV or even turn it off altogether, because the sound/light attracted too much of his attention. Then we had to lower the lights. The result? Dylan finds it hard to fall asleep and we can't do much at night: reading in the dark is pretty tough! I was thus forced to play the Nintendo DS (set to a low volume).
As the days went by we became more clever, turning Dylan's cot so that the blind side faces us or so that he can't see the TV. Eventually, we placed the cot as far away from us as possible - right next to the room's door, the closest thing to a separate room we could muster. But that's my entire point:
If you travel with your baby, try and arrange for separate rooms. And if you're sharing rooms at home, please go to your nearest psychiatrist and have your mental health assessed.

Lesson #2 is to do with sticking to routine.
On day one we didn't do much after arriving at the resort we stayed in, which was fine with everybody. On day two we had a tour of wineries in the area we stayed at, so we kept on taking Dylan in and out of the car. He didn't like it; it really seems as if there is a very finite number of times he would take being taken out of the car before going berserk. Worse, this ritual meant he couldn't sleep his usual number of sleep cycles during the day.
The result is that by afternoon time he became an intolerable zombie: so tired he couldn't even fall asleep, and we had a crying/yelling baby on our hands. That's one tough thing to handle! We're lucky that overall Dylan is a very good baby: come the evening routine of bath/feed he was alright again. One thing is very clear, though: if you're keeping your baby awake during the day so they would sleep better during the night you're doing the wrong thing; we find that Dylan sleeps better if he gets the sleep he needs when he needs it. A sleepy day guarantees a sleepy night.
On the subsequent days we adjusted accordingly. Instead of taking Dylan in and out of the car, we went on long drives that guaranteed good sleeps and only took him out to major events. Given Australian scale for distances, that is not hard to achieve. At some places we took turns getting out of the car to check the local attraction, so that the other can keep an eye on a sleepy Dylan in the car. That's bad for touring, but good for the baby; a bit of a worrying thought, though, given our near future Tasmanian tour.
Thus lesson #2 is: plan your trip around the baby, not the baby around the trip.

We came back home as relaxed as a Sicilian waking up to find the head of a horse next to him in bed. It was nice to escape routine, but it was hard, too.
The pinnacle was watching a Christmas movie at night, back at home, relaxing on the sofa with Dylan asleep in his own cot. The latest Die Hard sure fit the occasion!

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