Sunday, July 15, 2007

Taking the plunge

(Warning - mega post!)

We did it! We finally did it!

We took the plunge of going out for the evening and leaving Elijah in the hands of a babysitter.

Our fourth wedding anniversary coincided with the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix so we decided to treat ourselves to a night as a couple.

It wasn't without apprehension, though. When we originally made the decision to celebrate our anniversary, Elijah was sleeping solidly through the night. So the original plan was to have dinner, put him down for the night and leave, with the sitter only present just in case he wakes and also because it's not good form to leave your baby alone in your house for the night. We booked one of my students for the night, assuming that she'd be in for a pretty easy time.

However, about a week ago, he began waking several times between his bedtime and ours as Daddy recently blogged. We started wondering if we'd made the right decision. Would the sitter be able to resettle Elijah? Would he cope with having someone other than Mummy and Daddy looking after him? After asking around for some advice, we came up with the following contingency plan.

  1. Sitter to arrive early to interact with Elijah before commencement of the bedtime routine
  2. Elijah to be informed of the situation and made to understand that the sitter was going to look after him
  3. Sitter to be part of the bedtime routine by reading stories to Elijah
  4. Sitter to be informed that Elijah was very likely to wake and given explicit step-by-step instructions as to how to resettle him
    1. pat and rub his back with soothing tones
    2. if that doesn't work, take him out of the cot and rock him in the glider chair
    3. if that doesn't work, walk him around the dimly lit house
    4. if that doesn't work, try giving him a drink of water
    5. if all else fails, read him a book
    6. if he still won't settle, lie down with him on the couch and fall asleep together
  5. Mummy to breastfeed Elijah to sleep as normal
  6. Parents depart.
As soon as the sitter arrived, Elijah started showing off for her. It helped that she was somebody he knew and liked. They played together for a little while the the bedtime routine began. All went well. Daddy gave him his bath and dressed him for bed. We explained to him that the sitter was going to look after him tonight. She read to Elijah and he happily sat on her lap with her and squealed with delight as she read the books. He breastfed as I explained again that we were going out but that the sitter was there in case he woke up and that we'd see him in the morning. He didn't fall asleep, so I asked if Daddy and the sitter would like to come and say goodnight to Elijah.

"Good!" said Elijah.

There were goodnight kisses and then I gave Elijah another cuddle, reassuring him that we would see him in the morning and put him to bed, where he lay quietly, with eyes open. I left him there and finished getting ready to leave.

Leaving was very strange. It also felt weird and a little bit wrong to be driving off in the car together, knowing he wasn't in his car seat. It was like we'd forgotten something.

During the movie, we tried to not think about him. Daddy intermittently check his phone (which was put on silent) for messages but we did manage to not let our parental concerns interfere with our enjoyment of the film.

Driving home, we both expected to see the two of them curled up on the couch together. Not so. Elijah was still in his cot. The sitter was chilling out in front of the TV. Apparently, he'd only woken once and she was able to resettle him with just the first step of the plan!

Elijah must have understood what was going on and sensed our trust in the sitter.

The "parents' night out" was a resounding success! We are reassured now that Elijah can cope with us not being there and if we ever need some time out again, we know who to call to watch him.

Oh, and the movie was worth it!


dave said...

huuuuuuuuuuuuuge congratulations to you both :) both on the big step and on your anniversary.

two milestones in one night, how's that for your 'achievements' list Dad ?

anastasia_wolf said...

Oh jealous much!! I don't think I'm going to see it on the big screen our FDCer is on hols for two weeks and the way I am feeling this morning this bub might not wait that long!! Right now I miss my mum LOL!!