Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Finally, my children are developing essential skills

on August 12, 2013

Something unexpected has happened.  I find myself putting my children to bed at night, and *walking out of their room*.  Yes, I leave my children in their bedroom awake and expect them to go to sleep.  And they do.

Some parents have children who sleep.  They put the baby in its cot and leave it, waving and gurgling to itself, to drift off to sleep happily.   This has not been my experience.  If you have never experienced looking after children with long-term sleep difficulties, it may be hard to imagine the feelings of rage and frustration it causes.  The feeling that you may never leave your child’s bedroom again.  The guilt at feeling so very angry at your child.  The fear that you are failing them by not helping them to get enough sleep.  The ongoing exhaustion.  The bleary-eyed trek down the hallway, again, at 3am.  The desperate terror that there may never be an end to it. And did I mention the exhaustion?

During the recent hot weather, my children turned into siesta-girls.  They’d fall asleep, wherever they were, in a pushchair, carried in a sling, around 4pm and sleep until we got to our destination.  The little nap meant they were impossible to get to bed, and then they’d wake in the middle of the night ready for a party, and then wake early.  One Tuesday night, after hours of trying to convince them to go to sleep, needing to get ready for work the next day, I walked out of their room and left them to it, employing the ‘go back in and shout at them every ten minutes’ approach to parenting, of which I am not proud.

But they did go to sleep (of course, I wanted to wake them up and apologise for being Shouty Cross Mummy) and I realised I *could* leave the room without Small Girl crying.  So the next night, I tried doing the bedtime routine, putting them into bed and leaving them to settle themselves, going back as necessary. And it worked, even without the shouting.

Bedtime still takes almost forever. It’s still tiring.  Big Girl comes to the stairgate and shouts that Small Girl is hitting her (“Are you in bed, Big Girl? She can’t hit you if you’re both in bed”) or laughing (“She’s allowed to laugh as long as she’s in bed”) or talking to herself (“She’s reading to herself. She’s allowed to read to herself in bed”).  Big Girl and Small Girl ask for a drink repeatedly.  Big Girl has started going to sleep wrapped up in her duvet on the floor, which is allowed as long as there’s NO MESSING.  Big Girl asks to be with me.  It’s not perfect. But a year ago this would have been unimaginable.

Of course, Small Girl does still wake in the night sometimes.  And they occasionally both wake up around 5 and come in bed with me, and *mostly* go back to sleep.  Though when I say ‘occasionally’, they were in bed with me four nights on the run last week.   But a change is as good as a rest, right?



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