Tuesday, 25 July 2017

My Kids Won't Sleep

If somebody asked you how you'd rate your skills as a parent, what would you say?

My answer would probably vary greatly depending on the moment.

Sometimes I'd put myself at a 4 - when the biggest two are bickering and I'm counting down the hours until bedtime, or my middle son is screeching in the supermarket because I won't let him open the Barnys right that second.

Sometimes I'd put myself at a 9 - on those rare but oh so precious days when it all goes to plan, the ones where everybody gets along and tantrums are few and fleeting.

Most of the time though, I'd say I'm a solid 7 - call me cocky but I think 4 years and 3 kids in I've found my confidence in most aspects of parenting these little boys, I know how to take the rough with the smooth. I know how to ride the tantrums out.

But ask me in the dead of the night...in the wee small hours when all the other parents and their offspring are sleeping soundly in their beds (or at least that's how it feels...) ... and my answer would be very different.

When the sun goes down and bedtime rolls around, I feel as though I must be the crappiest mother in the world.

Because no matter what I try, no matter how many books I read on the subject, no matter how much effort I put in - my kids just will not sleep.

Sleep has been an issue for us from the get go - our eldest son Tyne was never a good sleeper as a baby, infact he absolutely refused to sleep in his moses basket at all. After weeks of no sleep, we started to co sleep with him and at last - we finally got some shut eye! Our prayers were answered....or so we thought.

While I'm reluctant to say that co-sleeping was a mistake, because it was the right thing for all of us at that time, I do wonder if its contributed to Tyne's ongoing need to be comforted to sleep.

Even now at 4, there's rarely a night that he doesn't end up in our bed and he cries every night to be "cuddled" to sleep...and usually we do it because who wants to see their kids crying themselves to sleep?

And although that in itself makes me feel like a below-par parent, because I don't hear about anybody elses four year olds sleeping in their parents beds night after night!, it's not the real problem - we can deal with the bed invader, infact it's something we're all quite used to.

The bedtime battle is another thing that I can make peace with - it's far from enjoyable when the mere mention of the word "bedtime" incites shouts of rage and fits of tears, begging and bartering for "just five more minutes"  - but I know it's just one of those things. I doubt there are that many children who want to go to bed when they're told to - I know I certainly didn't as a child!

Then come the hostage negotiations . I offer one bedtime story, they demand 3. We meet in the middle at 2 but then I usually end up giving in to the whining and reading the third one anyway.

And then it's time for lights out

....and this is where it all goes wrong.

They're in and out of their beds every few seconds.


Asking for cuddles.

Asking for fresh drinks.

Needing just one more wee.

Demanding a different cuddly toy.

Wanting the light on.

Wanting the light off.

On and on and on it goes.

Then there's the Domino effect - Usually started by the baby who wakes up crying....which is fair enough...that's what babies do.

But this then wakes up the eldest - who starts crying too and demanding that one of us stays with him to cuddle him until he goes back to sleep.

Meanwhile, the baby is still crying.

Then the middle one gets woken up by all the noise...now he's crying too.

He also wants you to stay with him...but the eldest now wants to get into your bed RIGHT THIS MINUTE...he's screaming for you to take him through into your bedroom, but the middle child is screaming for you to stay put.....and the baby? Oh he's still crying...waiting for someone to come to him!

Bedtime starts in our house at 7.30 pm, but I cannot remember the last time that anybody other than the baby was asleep before 9.30.

And maybe that 2 hour battle wouldn't be so bad if once they fell asleep they stayed asleep, but they don't.

All night long, they wake up - one after the other - crying out for cuddles, demanding to come into Mummys bed, etc etc.

Tonight, as I write this at 2.30 am, all 3 have only just gone back to sleep after an hour and a half of waking each other up - tag teaming us.

There's no such thing as time together for us of an evening, quality time has become a shared eye roll as we pass each other on the stairs while we each see to one of the kids.

And when there are three of them all awake at once the real fun and games begin - you're outnumbered! How do you handle it? Who do you go to first when they're all too little to really understand the need to be patient?

It's in the dead of the night, when it feels like every other family is fast asleep and we're trying to find a way to soothe 3 children in different rooms back to sleep all at once, that I feel like an epic failure as a parent.

Ask me at 2 am what I'd mark my parenting skills, and it would be a big fat zero.

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