Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

In case you are not bored of listening to me complain about my children’s sleep habits…

on December 7, 2012

I think I’ve not posted about sleep in a while.  Rest assured, this is not because I’m getting any.  I just got bored of the sound of my own whining.  I try not to talk to new parents about sleep any more because I remember how I felt when, sleep-deprived with Big Girl, someone told me things got better around 4 months.  I’m not sure how I would have felt if someone told me their 18-month-old still didn’t really sleep.  Possibly I would have killed them as an act of mercy.

And tonight I did think I’d rather die than face another bedtime with my children.  It has been all kinds of painful recently. I have tried everything.  Well, nearly everything.  Small Girl won’t go to sleep.  Big Girl mucks about.  Small Girl gets out of bed. I put her back in.  She gets out again. I put her back in.  She stands up.  I lie her down.  She stands up. I lie her down.  She says “Again! Again!”.  I feel like crying.  She hits me in the face repeatedly. Big Girl asks for a drink.  I hiss “Don’t say that!” at her (as if ‘water’ is some kind of banned word in our house) and then, of course, Small Girl starts crying for a drink too. Big Girl does a poo.  Small Girl cries when I leave the room to change Big Girl’s nappy.  Small Girl does tire herself out crying.  She climbs back into bed and I pat her bottom.  She is drifting off to sleep.  Please God, let me finally be able to leave the room…

Inexplicably Small Girl sits up.  I plead with her to lie down and go back to sleep.  I really start crying. I feel bad for crying in front of Big Girl.  I leave the room and hide under my duvet for a few minutes.  I hear Big Girl and Small Girl playing.  They are laughing; I leave them to it.  Then Big Girl cries because Small Girl is pinching her.  I ask her if she is in bed, as if being in bed would somehow protect her from a pinchy toddler.  Is it wrong to suggest that your daughter is to blame for being pinched by her little sister because she’s not in bed? I think so.  I go back into the bedroom and tell them to get into bed.  Small Girl cries.  I go and hang some washing up.  I go back in, resume patting.  And finally, finally, at 10.30 pm, Small Girl goes to sleep.  So then Big Girl can also go to sleep.  And I can go to bed.

I love my bed.  And I love having Small Girl in it when she wakes up at 1.30 am.  I just don’t love the way she wakes me up throughout the night.  I love my children.  But this sleep thing is just not working.  So I called in the Health Visitors.

I had to call a few times and write a cross letter to get someone to come out. It’s tricky with Health Visitors.  They’re very busy, understaffed and in high demand.  They have to deal with child protection issues.  So you have to try to sound desperate enough that someone will come and see you, but not so desperate that they come and take your children away (don’t worry – I know they won’t come and take my children away.  It doesn’t actually stop me worrying about it though).  A lovely nursery nurse came to see me.  We talked about Small Girl’s sleep.  We talked about my family set-up. We talked about everything I’ve tried.  And then we talked about what we could try.

And here’s what I’m trying: separate bedtimes.  Big Girl can stay up a little bit later while I put Small Girl to bed.  And then put her back in bed.  And then back in bed again. And again. And again.  And then, eventually, when Small Girl goes to sleep, Big Girl can have some cuddles and some stories and her own quiet bedtime.  This seems like a good plan except it has taken two hours or so of returning Small Girl to her bed before she eventually succumbs to sleep – too long for Big Girl.

So I’m persevering, for a little while, and seeing if things improve, and hoping Small Girl, Big Girl and I can all survive.  It has to get better soon, surely?


7 responses to “In case you are not bored of listening to me complain about my children’s sleep habits…

  1. Keep trying. Eventually they will get into a better sleep routine.

  2. lth1877 says:

    try starting bedtime an hr earlier no matter what time u usually start, also, threaten to leave the room if she wont lay down. iv started reading longer books for teenagers so no interesting pictures, my back facing her, no eye contact, just sound of my voice, half hr reading & walking out for 5 mins each time she messes around, bit of crying doesnt hurt anyone! 🙂 if when half hr over, she not sleeping, say u will read again tomo & its time to sleep, goodnight, sweetdreams u love her etc then leave, let her cry, she’ll be fine, u will hr tone in crying, very tired cry, different to fallen over need comfort cry. good luck

    • Thanks for your comment. I have tried starting earlier – it seems to take the same amount of time but at least Big Girl gets to bed a bit earlier. I really don’t like to leave her to cry – I don’t really think it’s good for her – but I think I need to try a few different things to see if anything helps her to sleep. We’ve had mixed success so far…

  3. seaswift says:

    You could try getting a referral to a sleep psychiatrist/psychologist. That’s what I did when I got so desperate because I felt I was existing in a weird, parallel universe. It was invaluable.

    • What did they suggest? I have said I’d like to be referred for some expert help – I just need things to improve. I hope that if the situation doesn’t change soon they will refer me. One of my friends is a child psychologist and has said I can ring her to talk about things, which I’m planning to do soon.

  4. We went through a long phase of my 3year old constantly getting out of bed after being put to bed, and getting up rediculously early every morning. I bought him a gro-clock (aka big boy clock) as a final attempt at getting any sleep. I didn’t have very high hopes but it worked a treat right from day one and continues to do so.

    • I think Small Girl is a bit young to understand the concept of a gro-clock, but I have heard many good things about them. Actually, the one thing I do consider myself very lucky with is that neither of my children have ever been early risers. I am sometimes woken before 7 by Small Girl, but almost always around the 6.45 am mark, and they will both sleep til 8 sometimes. I don’t think I could survive regular 5.30 am wakings!

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