Friday, July 20, 2012

On sleeping

This week has been a rough one in terms of sleeping.  Rich and I are in bed by 11:00 every night and we pretty much fall asleep within 5 minutes.  I don't have to be awake until 6:00 the next morning so in theory, I should be enjoying a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night.

Not so much.

I'm a light sleeper and I don't know if this is hereditary or not but my kids are not heavy sleepers, which  means that the second they wake up, no matter what time it is, they sprint to my bedside.  Sometimes this occurs at 11:30 just as I've entered into a deeper sleep cycle.  Sometimes it happens at 5:00 in the morning and I'm unable to fall back asleep before I have to get up for work.

As with everything else, this comes and goes in cycles.  We'll have weeks of decent sleep and then weeks of horrible sleep.  It can't be explained.  Well, maybe it's the moon.  Regardless, I've had kids waking me up multiple times each night this week and I've been sleeping in 3 different beds each night.  Emily, who was our co-sleeper as a baby, has actually been sleeping in her own bed (for the most part) this week.

In addition to the middle of the night issues, Allie has been giving me a hard time at bed time, which is unusual.  After stories, we tuck the girls into their beds and I usually don't hear a peep (until they wake me up when I'm sleeping.)  If I do hear a peep, it's because someone needs to go to the bathroom (I don't know why they can't go alone) or they need more water.  Once those requests are fulfilled, there are no repeat requests.  (I mean that no one asks me 17 times for water.)

Every night this week, Allie has been clanging the stairway gate asking for me to sleep in her bed with her.  I was here by myself with the girls last night while Rich was in class and I had to go upstairs 5 times between 7:45 and 8:45.  As I type it out, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal but I wanted to eat and this eating dinner after 8:30 is getting to me.

So this is where being a parent is tough.  I love my kids more than anything in this world and I've been trying so hard to work with them and not yell at them (but I do sometimes get pissed and yell) but I'm only human.  I need sleep and they are not good sleepers.  I've accepted this fact and it's been our world for the past five years.  How am I supposed to survive with extended sleep deprivation?  I have an almost full-time job where I have to use my brain.  If I screw something up, there could be serious consequences.  How do I deal with that when I'm exhausted?  How do I try to extend my limited patience when all I want to do is take a nap?

It sucks because I know how fortunate/lucky/blessed I am to have these three beautiful babies.  They come first in my life but I still have to pay the bills.  I hate having these feelings.  I hate when I get mad in the middle of the night because I've lost over an hour of sleep, or have kids sleeping on top of me or only have a teeny tiny spot in the bed that is mine.
This too shall pass...I know.  Rich and I will both be napping this weekend and hoping for a change in the cycle.  Or the moon.


Greg + Laura + Our Little Dude said...

I only have one kid (who sleeps fairly well) so I don't claim to know what you are experiencing. Don't they sleep in separate rooms? Maybe sleeping together in one big bed (them) would give them the comfort they need when they wake up in the night? Maybe??

The Maxell's said...

Hi! New reader :) I did the tough parent thing. My son cried and came up with excuses for a few days. He never cried for long, and it's not like he doesn't know I am there if there is a real emergency... then it clicked! Now, even if I want him to cuddle with on the weekends with my hubby, he perfers his own bed to ours! I even put the snoring dog in with him, and he sleeps right through it! Stick to your guns or they walk all over us ;) Kiddo's are smart, they know... don't you remember pushing your parent's buttons..haha! Good luck, Momma! It will pass!


Paige said...

I used to be VERY frustrated as a kid because I was an awful sleeper and my dad could fall asleep so easily. I would get worked up. He tried to teach me techniques to fall asleep (ie. imagine you are swimming to the bottom of the ocean and it just keeps getting darker and darker).

I think that's a good first step, but it didn't really work for me. Eventually he just told me that everyone deserves a good night's sleep and it wasn't fair for me to ruin it for everyone else. He told me that the worst thing that could happen if I lay awake all night quietly in bed is that I would be extra tired the next day--but then falling asleep the next night would be easier.

My mom is a lawyer and she needed her sleep. My brother and I knew that going into their bed in the middle of the night was NOT allowed, but when the clock started with a 5 we were allowed in. This gave us quality time before my mom left for work while she was getting ready.

My final advice: you have to be tough now. Sometimes parents think that kids will grow out of certain behaviours, but I babysit for a Grade 6 student (this is no joke) who still needs someone to lay in the bed while he falls asleep at night!

Just the Tip said...

we have 2 bad sleepers. Yet they are both different in their levels of badness lol. M finally sleeps through the night but she will cry until she pukes most nights before she will sleep. She wakes up at the drop of a dime and then it's done for. She actually WONT sleep in bed with me/us. P will ONLY sleep with us. If she wakes and feels around and i'm not there, all hell is breaking loose. She whines and kicks and moves so much at night. We actually did a sleep study last week and are still waiting on the results. It is exhausting. No matter how super mom i'm feeling to know that my sleep is ruined makes me angry moody mom instantly. You need sleep. I think it's time to evaluate what the tough love approach is for 5 year olds? With reason. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Do you think white noise machines might help the girls sleep better? We have six people in our house and we all use one. Actually, one of our sons uses two. LOL!

Also, is there a way you could make a bed on the floor in your room for the girls? That way they can come in if they feel they need to but they have to sleep in the bed on the floor. We do that with our youngest son. He is allowed to come into our room anytime after midnight to sleep but he isn't to wake us. We've actually done that with all four of our children but he is the only one that still needs that most nights. We don't have a lot of spare room at all but we make it work. Most mornings I don't even realize he has come into our room.

One thing that worked with our oldest daughter was buying her a huge Groovy Girl doll (bigger than she was) and it slept in the bed with her. It made a world of difference and she rarely came in our room after that.

Our children have also each been given a clock for their rooms. They know that they aren't allowed up before a certain time each morning. Our youngest still doesn't know how to tell time but she does know that if there is a 7 as the first number on her clock, then she can get out of bed.

I realize that you have probably tried some if not all of these things. I just wanted to try and offer some help because I know how difficult it can be when your children can't/won't sleep. Good luck!

Beau said...

im not a mother - im only 18; but ive watched supernanny loads, maybe see if you can find it on youtube? basically what she says is when they get out of bed (this is mainly while the parents are still up but...) lead them back to their bed and say 'bedtime darling'. maybe give them a kiss as they got out in the middle of the night? the next time they get up, lead them back to bed and say 'bedtime'. (nothing but bedtime). the third time they get up lead them back to bed but dont say anything at all. just put them back in bed and walk off

Michelle said...

My 3 daughters are exactly like yours. Whatever we try works for awhile (sometimes) and then they decide they dont care about earning another barbie or getting a sticker on a chart. I have no solutions for you... Just letting you know that someone else in the world is equally exhausted as you and you arent alone!

Tracey's Life said...

Sarah, I feel for you. Going through life tired is exhausting. I would suggest in preparation for school starting, you and Rich try and find some rules that you agree on, and perhaps sit the girls down and explain. No more getting out of bed and waking Mom and Dad up unless they are really sick or scared. They should be able to go to the bathroom themselves and will have to do that in school (except for Anna). Maybe put a clock in each room with a picture of what time they are allowed to come in Mommy and Daddy's room. The white noise machines are also a good idea. You are going to have some tough spots, but if you should be able to get them to sleep all night eventually. It is going to take time just like everything does. They need a good night sleep just as much as you do. Sometimes it seems like we are being mean to our children, but in reality our choices help them develop into the best people they can be. You know yourself and your children better than anyone, so find in your heart the answers.

You are a really smart woman, and you will figure this out just like everything else. Take in the suggestions and see what feels right to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I hope u are able to get some quality sleep soon. Just wanted to say i think you are doing a great job and taking good care of those girls. I was a poor sleeper asa kid. I remember feeling lonely and sometimes scared. My mum let me sleep with them or on the floor next to them when i needed to and she would hold my hand. It really is what i needed to feel their closeness to be able to sleep. After about age 5 it happened less and less. I did out grow it on my own. It makes me happy to read about u being therr for ur girls too. They will get there soon. In the meantime they are feeling all the love u have for them. Hope u feel better soon. U are an amazing mum.

Chloe Elyse said...

I have to admit, I do think you need to start being tougher. It seems like they do it because they know they can. I agree with the whole leading them back to their beds when they wake up idea, without conversation. I think that as mean as you might feel, you do need to be stern with them and simply tell them that they are not allowed out of bed until you come into their rooms in the morning unless it's an emergency, which you can obviously define to them yourself. I was also wondering about the fact that they sleep in separate rooms. How about making a rule that if they are lonely in the night, they have permission to go into each other's rooms if their sissy says it's okay? It might just be that they want comfort and someone to sleep close to them. But that doesn't always need to be a parent, because you and Rich work and need your sleep. I think being honest and firm with them is the best thing you can do in this situation =]

Teej said...

Every time I read a post about your girls' sleep problems, I think guiltily of my own. I started sleeping on the couch when I was pregnant. Now my baby is 1, and I am still sleeping on the couch. I can't seem to fall asleep anywhere else. It aggravates my husband that I get up and leave our bedroom every night to go sleep on the couch.

So...all of that to say that I am an adult who should theoretically have the self-control and critical thinking of an adult, but I can't seem to make myself sleep well in my own bed. Thus, I am inclined to cut your girls a lot of slack. And I wish that my husband was as understanding as you are! ha

Krissy said...

I don't know if this would help your girls or not, but it totally worked (within a few days) for my twins.

Our kids can still come up if they REALLY REALLY need us, but they wake up occasionally, check their night, see that it is still blue and know that it isn't time to get up.

Anyway, hope you find a solution that works for your family!

Anonymous said...

i agree with a lot of the others, your girls don't NEED you to be with them throughout the night, they just know that you'll give in to them. my advice is to tell them they need to stay in their beds all night and not get out unless it is for a serious reason otherwise they can come into your bedroom when it's light outside. if they do come out for no reason just tell them goodnight and leave it at that. sure they'll probably be upset for a few days but then they'll start sleeping through the night. a lot of their sleep patterns are probably depending on you. just like when a breastfed baby nurses throughout the night..usually you go through a few days of them crying but then they sleep through the night.

Mary said...

What I would worry about is come Sept when they need their sleep for school 5 days a week. I would encourage a change of these habits now or you will have 3 exhausted 5 year olds getting out the door every morning or are they afternoon kindergarten? Maybe tell them since they are 5 now and they are big girls and will be going to school soon, if they have to go to the bathroom, after they are in bed they don't need to wake you or Rich up. Encourage this independence and ask them in the morning if anyone had to get up by themselves. Practice this now, and remind them they need their rest or they will get sick and miss out on school. I never gave water after they were in bed, but if it is an excuse, send them to bed with a sports bottle of water. Are the bedroom doors opened or closed? If they are closed maybe keep them open so they can see you from their room. Do they have nightlights? We always kept the hall light on in between the bedrooms and the bathroom. You and Rich are doing a great job, and you are correct it will pass...I know you are waiting for that day!

Hope's Mama said...

No advice, but I feel your pain. One almost three year old who sleeps pretty bad and an 11 month old who still feeds twice over night.
Wishing for sleepier days ahead. For us both.

Kelly and Gumbie said...

Oh I feel your pain. I have 27 month old twins and my duaghter has always been challenged in the sleep department. I can so relate to your thought of "I just want to eat my dinner." So many nights I am thinking I want to yell "Just go to sleep already!"

I love your blog and you are an amazing photographer.

Hopefully sleep will come soon.

Catherine said...

I have a 5 month old who is going through a sleep regression right now so I have no advice. I did want to tell you that I love your blog for its honesty. There are so many blogs out there that portray motherhood/life with kids as sunshine and rainbows all the time when it is clearly not. Your blog is real and that's rare. So I just wanted to say thank you.

sunshine87us said...

Your girls are adorable!! I found your blog on the Top Baby Blogs website and and think you have a great style of writing. You also take beautiful pictures

Anonymous said...

My girls used to be awful sleepers, but over time we've worked through a lot of our nighttime issues. I agree that you need to be tough and consistent.

If my girls get up at night and ask to use the bathroom I remind them they don't need to ask. Sure they'd love for me to accompany them, but it's just a ploy.

We also talk a lot about how everyone sleeps in their own bed because that's how everyone sleeps best. And also about how everyone needs sleep, including Mommy.

They may not be the best sleepers, but there are absolutely things you can do to help them (or to keep them as awful sleepers).