Just Add Sleep

I’ve been writing this blog for a whole year now (thanks for sticking with me!) and much of that time has been spent moaning about lack of sleep, for which I can only apologise. Well, I am hoping that particular subject may be something I can move on from soon. You see, we have had a bit of a breakthrough.

Sleep here has been a painful topic of late (see Scream O’Clock). Well, it has been painful for about 8 years actually. However, over the last month or so, we’ve actually been sleeping. I mean all three kids going to bed at a reasonable hour and rising at 7am or later. Yes, even our sleep resistant, early-rising Baby T has started to tow the line.

imageI don’t know exactly what triggered the change as we’ve tried a lot of things but I suspect it is simply that he has reached an age where waking up alone in bed is no longer scary and he finally really understands what his sleep training clock is all about.

It is also down to the fact that something snapped in me a few weeks back, after yet another 5am start and exhausting day. I decided some serious action was needed and it was time to be Nails Mummy. Don’t laugh. I can do that when I have to. I decreed a major early-rising crack-down for all three of them. It was a few weeks before Christmas, always a good time for bribery, so I said that they could all open one Christmas present on Christmas Eve, on the condition that they didn’t get out of bed before 7am at all for the next few weeks. Even one early start would be a fail. See? Nails.

To be honest, this crack-down was aimed entirely at my eldest, H. T had no clue what I was going on about and M rarely wakes before 7am anyway. H, however, has been getting up at 6am or earlier for as long as I can remember. He noisily goes for a wee, turning on the bathroom light and whirring extractor-fan, banging a few doors, before he trundles up and down stairs a couple of times to get things he has forgotten and then switches on the TV or tablet and entertains himself. So if our early-rising two-year-old wasn’t already awake and downstairs with one of us, he sure as hell was after all that.

Now I don’t know why I never considered this before but it finally occurred to me that if I stopped H getting up so early, he might not wake his little brother up. So I cracked down hard on H and, guess what? Things changed. Almost overnight. No more toddler screaming at 5am. T now gets out of bed when his clock changes at 7am and politely knocks on his bedroom door until we come and open it for him. The change could not be more dramatic.

As I said, I think some of this is down to T being a bit more grown up, but making H stay in bed has definitely helped a lot. And an added bonus is that H, who almost never wants to sit and read a book by himself, is waking up at 6 or 6:30 and quietly reading until 7am. Double-bloody-whammy of utter brilliance.

imageOK, so I know it sounds really bleedin’ obvious that stopping H’s early rising will help the baby sleep in, but there is something about prolonged sleep deprivation that simply saps all common sense out of your brain. It may be obvious to you but I was wading through the hell of it and had literally no idea what to try next. If one of those hideous Super Nanny types came into my house with her camera crew, she would have come up with that solution in five minutes and you would have all been sitting in front of your TVs nodding and agreeing with her, wondering why I had been so daft as to not consider that myself. Well, I was in the shit up to my eyeballs, and I couldn’t see over it. I was beyond being able to see solutions.

But we do have a solution at long last, it seems. I’m not going to be stupid enough to claim to have nailed it. We all know that things can change. But I am quietly hopeful. It is, after all, about time we had a break in the sleep department.

And oh, what a change it has made! My husband and I feel like we have rediscovered our inner kid. We found ourselves giggling and getting on like a house on fire this Christmas, like we did before we had kids, before lack of sleep turned us into zombies. Our relationship has become a little more fun again. We’ve feel like proper mates, partners in the crazy world of childrearing, rather than feeling like shift workers, taking it in turns to deal with horrible o’clock starts and moany, tired kids. It is so much easier to laugh off kid misdemeanours when you are not so tired that you want to cry.

So, after nearly 8 years, we are finally getting some sleep. And while it has done some amazing things to our world, I still seem to feel more tired than I’d hoped, which is a bit disappointing. I still have bags under my eyes and I still feel like I’ve been run over by a bus when T starts his morning knocking to drag me out of my cocoon. What is that all about? I’m getting more sleep than I have done in years but I’m still tired? Seriously? I really don’t get it. Maybe my body is still catching up on all the years of going without and I’ll wake up one day next month as fresh as a daisy and raring to go. I can but hope. Or maybe I just got old over the last 8 years and can’t take the pace of life any more. Maybe all that exhaustion has taken it’s toll permanently and this is just the new normal for me. Only time will tell.

The only downside of T sleeping better is that afternoon naps are well and truly a thing of the past. He clearly isn’t really ready to drop them entirely and he does a lot of falling asleep in random places at really inconvenient times, often waking up in a terrible mood. And no nap means no afternoon hour off, of course, but I’ll take it. It is worth it.

So, hopefully this is going to be the last update from me about sleep or lack thereof. At least for now. I intend to enjoy our new family sleep pattern for as long as it lasts. The world is a slightly brighter place. And considerably less blurry.

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