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Lulabelle's sleep habits won't let me manage time efficiently.

Ordinarily I like to write a post in my Writing Journal on Mondays to talk about some stuff that's going on with whatever book(s) I'm working on at the moment.  Today I was struggling for ideas.  I'm halfway through my post-apocalyptic comedy and I just started contracting a cover for "Born Loser," my gamer/heist comedy thriller, but I've only spent a total of maybe one hour over the last two weeks working on both of those combined.

So, there's not much of an update to write about today.  Which is a problem.

My day job has been so insane this month that it has seeped into all other aspects of my life and made it virtually impossible to work on my writing.  I find that frustrating for reasons I would bitch about, except I'm sure you can guess.  You really want to read me complain about my job?  Probably not.

So I'm going to complain about my daughter instead.

Y'see, she has had this weird habit of changing her sleep patterns constantly.  I know that's not a totally unusual thing for little kids - she's at the age where her naps will shift and the amount of time she sleeps a day should be decreasing.  But when I say "patterns," I guess what I really mean is "habits."  Or maybe "quirks."

Let me explain.  Back when she was an infant, we hit the jackpot - she fell into a solid 8:00 PM to 6:00 AM solid-sleep routine very early on, maybe at only two months or so.  Steph and I were ecstatic.  We heard all the horror stories from other parents who didn't get a full night of sleep for a year - or longer.  We considered ourselves lucky and just enjoyed it.

Then Lulabelle had her first night terrors at about five or six months old.  (They were never formally diagnosed; we call them night terrors because, well, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck....)  That freaked us out, but she didn't have them too often.  Only once every couple of weeks.

Then she got her first tooth, and that disrupted her sleep for about a week.  Then her next tooth threw everything off for another week.  And then so on.  Throughout all this time, we would do what we could to comfort her, and she got in the habit of either falling asleep in our arms or in our bed or with us in the room.  We found that the more attention we gave her before / as she was going to sleep, the rarer the night terrors and other interruptions became.

But the trade-off was that we couldn't just sleep normally anymore.  So even though she had a perfectly fine sleep pattern - we put her in her crib, she goes to sleep for ten hours, we get her in the morning - the random interruptions got in the way.  Eventually, by the time she was one year old, we were finding ourselves losing sleep.  And that's when we started checking out all the advice for how to put your infants to bed.

The problem is, all that advice was written for parents who are just starting out with setting a sleep schedule, or who are transitioning to having the baby sleep in their own room.  Very little of it was written with an audience like us in mind.  (I think there's probably also a lot of resentment; I suspect not many people are going to feel sorry for parents who got good sleep when their kids were that young.)

We tried the cry-it-out method, and that... just plain sucked.  SOOOOOO much.  I don't care how many people say it doesn't hurt your kid, that sounds like garbage to me.  When your kid is crying for forty straight minutes and sounds like she can barely breathe, don't you dare tell me that it's perfectly natural and we're doing harm by going to comfort her.

So we tried a graduated method.  And it... sorta sucked less.  For a little while she got back into her three-month-old habit of going to sleep when we told her to, and it was great.  But then the toothaches came back, and then the night terrors came back, and then we decided it wasn't working.

The bottom line is this.  After trial and error, we finally found a method that works like 99% of the time.  After her bedtime ritual - which we've been doing ever since she first slept in her crib - we sit down in a chair near her bed and read, then wait until she's been asleep for about 20-30 minutes, and then leave.

It's great.  She doesn't cry.  She looks forward to going to bed.  She sleeps the whole night - no terrors in 2016 so far - and she wakes up happy and energetic.

There's just one problem... you absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, use a laptop computer during her post-reading quiet time.

I have no idea how she knows this.  But if you pull up a laptop and try to do any work, she will sit upright and stare at you.  She won't scream and she won't get upset.  But she just won't sleep.  She'll look at you like, "Are you serious?  What did I tell you about laptops?"  And I'm not even talking about the clacking of your keys.  Even if all you're doing is looking at the screen, she won't lay down.

(Ironically, she has no such problem when she goes down for her midday nap.  It is only at night that she refuses to sleep next to an open laptop.)

So what this means for me is that each night I have to reserve about 45 minutes of down-time where I'm sitting in Lulabelle's bedroom, but despite the fact that I'm overwhelmed with work, I can't do anything productive in that time.  I can watch a movie on my Kindle, I can listen to a podcast, I can mess with my phone, I can read, I can do virtually anything I want... except write.

I guess I shouldn't complain.  At least she's sleeping well again.