Friday, June 12, 2009

Sleep math

Math, as practiced in this house, is a mix of addition, subtraction and playing the odds. Since every clock in the house is off from the other by about 10 minutes, I do a ridiculous amount of adding and subtracting in my travels through the house. When Danny goes to sleep at 1:30 in his room, it's 1:20 in the baby's bedroom, 1:40 in our bedroom and 2:00 downstairs. Consequently, my estimate of the duration of the kids' naps could be off by as much as a half hour.

And since I've yet to find a method to my children's sleep madness, I do a good bit of mathematical fortune telling. To predict the number of hours I can expect to sleep in a 24 hour period, I subtract how long the kids have been up and exerting themselves from the total number of hours they slept in the past 24 hours, add five (the longest stretch my daughter has slept lately) and divide by a number from one to five representing my desperation level. Fortunately, that number hasn't ever reached zero ... yet.

Of course, despite the mental gymnastics, reality often deals me something altogether different. The equation differs from day to day, but it usually goes something like this:

If the baby goes to sleep at 8 and sleeps three to four hours, how long can mommy sleep before the baby wakes up? (My answer: Three hours. Real answer: about two minutes. The baby will wake up as soon as mommy finally drifts off to sleep after tossing and turning for an hour and tending to the toddler's night screaming.)

If the baby sleeps for two three-hour stretches and a one-hour stretch and cries on and off for two hours, how many hours after "waking up" should one expect the baby to sleep? And for how long? (My answer: Two hours after waking up for at least an hour. Real answer: Two hours after waking up for 10 minutes on the way to PMO.)

If the toddler plays all morning at church, how long do I have to get him home and fed before he conks out? (My answer: about an hour. Real answer: Factoring mommy's desperation level into the equation, there will likely be NO nap.)

How many years will it take mommy to catch up on all the sleep she's lost in the past two and a half years? (My answer: Five years, conservatively, of a Rip Van Winkle-type sleep. Real answer: I'll probably learn to live without sleep and die early. Have you read the news lately about the optimum amount of sleep? Too few or too many hours and you'll die sooner. I wonder if they factored mothers of young children into these studies??)

Since putting Fiona to sleep in her crib instead of her car seat, the longest she's slept is maybe five hours. She used to sleep up to eight hours. Most nights this week, a week during which Jim and I have both been sick, I've slept three good hours and then snatched a half hour to an hour here and there in the early morning hours while my kids sent mind waves between their bedrooms deciding which one will scream next. And we're going on vacation starting Saturday, which always screws with their sleep schedules. I fear that it's just going to be more work only with a better view.

At least I have dinner to look forward to ... I met a new dish the other day with a new-to-me variety of pasta, guessed the ingredients (and I was right!! I found the recipe on the Internet.) and will make it for dinner tonight with fresh spinach from the garden. It's orcchiette with sausage, spinach and grape tomatoes. Can't wait. Hopefully, I can eat it without getting up 10 times or having to eat left handed with a baby on my lap. Determining the likelihood of that happening is a whole other equation.

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