Sheryl Jesin


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4 month update

I can hardly believe that my baby girl is 4 months old already. How has time gone by so quickly? The newborn days are behind us now, and each day she gets more fun and more interactive.

I won’t lie, these past 4 months have been challenging. For the first 8 weeks, I barely slept because she barely slept. At night, she would be often up crying, and nothing would soothe her other than intense bouncing and rocking. This was no easy feat in the middle of the night. She would sleep during the day, but only if I was holding her or wearing her in a carrier. Thank goodness for babywearing or we would have been hungry with no clean clothes to wear.

At around 8 weeks, I took Alex to see my chiropractor. She specializes in pregnant women, babies and kids. She is extremely gentle. I took Alex three times, and at each visit Alex was crying when we got there for whatever reason. Hungry, tired, or both? I’m not sure. As soon as my chiropractor started her adjustment, Alex quieted down immediately and fell asleep. Coincidence? Or not? All I know is that after 3 adjustments, Alex started sleeping better. I am so thankful for that. At around the 8 week mark I also fully cut out dairy from my diet. I believe that has been helping too.

Now we happily co-sleep together, with no bouncing or rocking needed. When she wakes up at night, I hear her before she has a chance to cry. I latch her on lying down, and we both drift off to sleep. There is nothing better than that! As long as I am diligent about getting into bed early enough, I do not feel tired the next morning.

Juggling all three kids and maintaining some semblance of order in our house is no easy feat. Just the laundry alone is never-ending. I give a lot of thanks to my wonderful husband and my helpful mother and mother in law. My husband has been invaluable in his assistance with the older two boys and both grandmothers have been available at all times for sleepovers with the boys and pick ups from school. I am also so grateful that both boys are in school full-time – it gives me time to rest during the day and keeps them happy and occupied. It truly takes a village!

Even though things have been hard, I want time to slow down. I want to savour ever cuddle and snuggle and laugh with each of my kids. As Dylan has said often: “We will never have this day again.” How wise he is at only 6 years old.

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Dropping a nap

How do you know when your child is ready to drop a nap?  It’s a common question, and there is no easy answer.  Here’s a quick recap of my experience with naps with my 2 kids.

Months 0-6 – during these early months, my children napped whenever they were tired.   They nursed and slept “on demand’.  I generally nursed them to sleep either on a bed (if we were home) or in a carrier if we were on the go.  I kept an eye out for signs of sleepiness and always tried to nurse when they seemed sleepy, and if they were tired, they would usually fall asleep easily when nursing.  If they seemed tired but didn’t fall asleep nursing, I would hold them and bounce on a yoga ball (if at home) or bounce in a carrier if out, and they’d usually pass out within minutes!

Months 6-9 – with both kids, a fairly predictable nap pattern began to emerge.  They napped three times a day – usually 2-3  hours after waking either in the morning, or from a previous nap.   The last nap was usually a cat nap around dinner time.  During this stage, naps were mostly at home and sometimes on the go in a carrier or the stroller if we were out and about.  Kids were nursed to sleep.

Months 9-12 (or a bit longer) – at this point, both kids napped twice a day – usually once around 9 am and then again around 2 pm.  I still followed sleepy cues and would nap them a bit earlier or a bit later if necessary.  At this point, naps were almost always at home, and kids were nursed to sleep.

Months 12 – approx 2.5 years – naps dropped down to once a day, at around 12pm.  At this point, naps were almost exclusively at home, as I found they slept better in the quiet of our house, and I used the downtime to do things around the house.  Kids were nursed to sleep.

It’s always hard to know when a child is ready to drop a nap.  I found that there were two predictable signs – either the child wouldn’t nurse to sleep easily at naptime, or bedtime was getting really late.  When I noticed these signs, I would try to drop a nap and observe what happened.

There are also signs that a child is not ready for dropping a nap.  If you’ve tried dropping a nap, and the child is falling asleep at an old nap time either in the car or the stroller, or the child is super cranky around dinner time, it is possible that he or she was not ready to drop a nap, in which case I’d recommend reverting to the previous nap schedule.

Also, it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”.  Some kids benefit from a transition period – where they nap some days, and then don’t nap other days.   This can be hard as you really have to pay attention to your child’s sleeping cues, and you have to be really flexible with your schedule and be ready to nap your child when they need to sleep!

I should add that I personally have never been a big fan of carseat naps – I prefer my kids to nap at home so I can either get things done around the house, or nap with them!!

Also, as you can see from the above, the main sleep cue I use for my kids is nursing to sleep.  We don’t have a long, drawn out naptime routine.  If we are home, we go into a quiet room, turn on a sound machine, lie down, nurse, and usually the child is asleep within minutes.    An added bonus is that I get a few minutes of rest when I lie down with them.  When they fall asleep, I can sneak away. When I hear them waking from a nap, I always go to them quickly and try nursing again.  Quite often, they will fall back asleep and the nap is extended.  (I should add that my kids can nap without me, even though nursing to sleep is their main sleep cue.  Dylan was the star napper at his daycare and Jake can easily get Ben to nap by cuddling together.)

I’ve mentioned before that nursing to sleep has always been a wonderful experience for us.  I know it goes against all the advice that traditional “sleep experts” espouse.   I stopped listening to those experts a long time ago, and I’ve never looked back!

How have you been able to tell that your child needs to drop a nap?  Do you have a nap time routine?


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Half Marathon Training Weeks 5 and 6

Week 6 of my half marathon training is now over…meaning that I am half way there with just a short 6 weeks to go until the big day.

My runs for weeks 5 and 6 were as follows:

Week 5 – 3 miles, 7 miles, 2 miles and 3 miles

Week 6 – 2 miles, 8 miles, 2 miles and 3.5 miles (one of those 2s was supposed to be a 3 but somehow I got confused…oh well!)

I’m not going to lie – the long runs felt LONG.  7 miles was hard, and 8 was even harder.  Before I go on a long run, I am always excited about the challenge, but it can also seem really daunting.   More than a few times during the long runs the negative talk in my head was a bit out of control.  It went something like this:  Why did I think I could run a half marathon?  This was a terrible idea.  Anything more than 10k is just stupid.  My legs are tired.  I’m hot.  I’m thirsty.  I can’t do this.  Why did I think that I could do this with two little kids at home?  I am the world’s slowest runner.  I’m not a real runner.

However, as the miles passed, I tried to silence the negative talk.   I also tried to break  the run down into manageable chunks.  I just concentrated on completing one mile at a time, because I know I can run one mile easily!   After mile 7 of my 8 miler I was very hot and very tired (summer arrived very early this week in Toronto), but I know I only had 1 mile left and 1 mile is easy peasy!  I pushed through that last mile and was thrilled and very proud of myself when I was done.

Signs of spring, as seen on my run

Life’s daily tasks, just like running, can seem very overwhelming with so many things to do!  Sometimes just getting myself and the kids up and ready in the morning so we can take Dylan to school seems nearly impossible!  There are so many little things to do – make the beds, throw in a load of laundry, get Benjamin dressed, make breakfast, clean up, get the kids in the car etc.  Each task on itself isn’t that hard, but all of them together can seem like too much.  So I try to conquer each distinct task at a time, and that helps me get through the morning rush.   So, lessons learned running also apply to my life – just like I tackle long runs one mile at a time, I know I also have to complete things at home one task at time, and eventually everything will get done!


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Co-Sleeping with Two Kids

When Dylan was born over 3 years ago I just assumed he would sleep in a crib.  Every baby I knew slept in a crib (or so said their parents).  Dylan, however, had other plans for us.   He wanted nothing to do with the lovely crib in his room with the beautiful bed skirt I agonized over at Pottery Barn Kids!  He also wasn’t a fan of sleeping in the brand new pack ‘n play that we set up in our room.  Dylan was happiest sleeping snuggled right next to me in our bed.  I struggled with this the first few months and wasted many hours trying to get him to sleep on his own.  After doing a lot of reading and research online, I discovered that many parents co-sleep with their kids, here in North America and especially around the world.  By the time Dylan was 6 months old, we gave up on the crib and began to happily accept our sleeping companion.  At a year, we dismantled the crib and put a double bed in Dylan’s room, and haven’t looked back since!

When we found out I was pregnant with Benjamin, there was no doubt in my mind and Jake’s mind that we would co-sleep with him.  In fact, we didn’t even set up the crib this time – it remains in storage.  It has been so easy this time without the sleeping struggles.   Benjamin’s sleep has really been a non-issue since day 1.

During the first few months after Ben was born, I’d put Dylan to sleep in his own room.   Then, Ben would sleep in the swing downstairs for a few hours each evening.   When I was ready to go to sleep, I’d bring Ben upstairs into bed with me.   Dylan would usually wake up at some point in the night and climb into bed with us.   And Jake would join us too!  I was always sure to keep Ben near me and away from covers, pillows and everyone else.   We have a king bed and we found the four of us fit quite easily.

Ben and Dylan in bed together back in May...my spot is between the two of them!

We kept up this sleeping arrangement for probably 5 or 6 months.  Everyone slept quite well!  During the summer, we were up at the cottage and the sleeping arrangements changed a bit.    At the cottage, we had one room with a queen bed and one with a double.  I didn’t think it would be comfortable or safe to have four of us in a queen bed.  So, I’d put Dylan to sleep in the room with a double, and Jake joined him when he was ready for bed.  The two of them slept in that room all night.   Ben and I shared the queen in the other room.   When it was just me and the kids at the cottage without Jake, Dylan would start out in the double and then join Ben and me in the queen at some point.

We kept this arrangement when we came back home in September.   Dylan and Jake sleep in a double in Dylan’s room, and Ben and I sleep in the king bed in my room.  This way, each child has an adult to snuggle with!  Ben wakes a few times a night to nurse, but always goes right back to sleep.   Dylan sometimes wakes up to pee, but otherwise sleeps well.  I should add that I now put Ben to sleep in our bed and sneak away once he is sleeping.  He doesn’t move much when he sleeps and I listen carefully on the monitor – if I hear him stirring I quickly go to him.  He also naps in our bed – I nurse him to sleep and then sneak away.

Today I told Dylan that when Benjamin gets older, the two of them will share a room and a bed.   Dylan was really excited!  I’m not sure when this will happen – perhaps when Ben is 2?  Then Jake and I will have our comfy and spacious king to ourselves again.   But for now, our sleeping arrangement maximizes everyone’s sleep, and meets the needs of both the kids and the adults in our family.  I wouldn’t change it for anything!


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Wordless Friday

Yes, I know bloggers typically post a picture on Wednesday, and call it “Wordless Wednesday”.   However, I feel like posting a picture today.   Since this is my blog, I can do whatever I want.  So here it is:

Cutest little sleeping face ever

I really adore pictures of sleeping children.   Their faces are so sweet, so innocent and so pure!  I love this picture of Benjamin, and I’m so thankful that I get to snuggle with him all night long.

Happy Friday everyone!


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A Quick Hello

Hello readers…are any of you still out there?  I’ve been a bit neglectful on the blog front lately…two kids are keeping me busy these days!

Things have been mostly wonderful and sometimes crazy!  The crazy times are when two kids want me at the same time…like when Dylan wants me lying beside him to fall asleep but Benjamin needs to be walked around the room and rocked to sleep.   Jake’s been infinitely helpful at times like these…he’s perfected his own way of getting Ben to sleep, that involves classical music, white noise and the swing.

The wonderful times include all four of us lying in bed together.   There is nothing cozier than being in the middle of Ben and Dylan while they are both sleeping.  I love listening to them breathe at night and snuggling with both of them.   Co-sleeping with two kids is really quite fun and is a great way to get lots of sleep while still meeting the needs of both boys.

I hope to write lots more about the ups and downs of being a mommy of two in the next few months.   Stay tuned!


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Lessons my children have taught me

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When my first son Dylan was born almost three years ago, my life changed profoundly.   While my husband Jake and I were so excited to have a baby and felt ready, nothing could truly prepare us for becoming parents.

As soon as he was born, there were so many things we needed to know – how to change diapers, how to give a baby a bath, how to feed a baby, how to get a baby to sleep.   And of course how to take care of ourselves while taking care of a baby too!

I like to think that Dylan taught us how to be parents.   His personality and his needs made us into the parents that we are today.   We came to practice attachment parenting because it was the best way of meeting Dylan’s needs while also meeting our own.  For example, co-sleeping allowed us to get lots of sleep at night while at the same time meeting Dylan’s need of feeding often at night.   Wearing Dylan in a carrier allowed me to get things done around the house while meeting Dylan’s need of not wanting to nap alone.

Dylan’s strong need during the early months to breastfeed often and to have me close to him at all times really made me question the “mainstream” way of taking care of kids, where babies and children’s needs are often seen as a nuisance that must be managed.  I couldn’t believe that my sweet baby boy was manipulating me with his demands.  Instead, Dylan showed me that a baby’s needs are real – they aren’t just wants – they are necessities!  Dylan taught me that a baby’s cry shouldn’t be ignored just because they have a clean diaper and have been fed.   His cry often meant he needed another snuggle or just wanted to hear my voice or needed to be nursed one more time, perhaps for comfort.   I wouldn’t ignore my husband or mother if they were calling out for me – and I certainly wouldn’t ignore my helpless baby!  The quote from Dr. Seuss’s book Horton Hears a Who rang true to me after I became Dylan’s mom: ” A person’s a person no matter how small!”  And in my book any person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I have the privilege of being a mom again now to a second wonderful son.  It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I feel so zen this time around.  I have Dylan to thank for my calmness and my sense of awe and appreciation.   He taught me that the newborn days are fleeting and that every precious moment has to be savored.  He taught me that I won’t in fact spoil my baby by holding him all the time.  So this time around I’m enjoying my sweet newborn son.  I hold him or sleep right beside him pretty much 24 hours a day.  I’m feeding him on and off all day and all night long and I’m not resenting it!    I know now that you can’t feed a breastfed baby too often and that breastfeeding is a wonderfully convenient mothering tool.

So I thank Dylan, my first born son, for having the persistent, strong personality from day one that taught me to parent him as an attachment parent.   And I thank my sweet innocent second born son, Benjamin, for letting me parent him as an attachment parent right from the first minute of his life – it is so wonderful to be able to enjoy it right from the beginning this time around!!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)