Dear Sleep Experts,
I have read so many books, blogs and websites over the years written by your good selves, and have dutifully taken advice on-board, and tried to implement good sleeping habits for my kids. Unfortunately though, we seem to be absolutely jinxed in my house when it comes to getting some kip.
It all started four years ago, just after our eldest turned two. We’d recently moved her into a big girl bed and also had noisy neighbour issues (oh the irony, for now we are most certainly the noisy ones). She went from sleeping 7-7 most nights to causing merry hell every single night, often waking up ten times plus, and taking hours to settle. As this played out I was expecting our second daughter, and things got so bad that I had to start maternity leave early.
Our new addition (now 3½) was a dream baby. She slept through the night without any training at ten weeks old, and continued to sleep just beautifully until very recently. My husband and I never got to catch up on our lost zzzzz’s though, because our eldest had become a nightmare by then. Full scale meltdowns in the middle of the night had become par for the course, and our coffee intake went through the roof.
Fast forward to today: we’ve had another baby (our son who is 20mo), as well as an ASD diagnosis. It goes some way to explain why our girl finds it so difficult to get back to sleep when she wakes, but it doesn’t feel particularly comforting right now.
Although he slept well as a new baby, our son’s sleep took a nose dive towards the end of last year and drastic action was taken just last month to break the milk/sleep association. Even though it felt like I was going against mother nature all the way, we completely weaned him off the breast in a desperate attempt to get him sleeping better.
It hasn’t worked, and our sleep situation has never been as bad as it now, because all three of them have been triple teaming us. No sooner does one stop balling, one or two of the others pick up the baton and continue the sleep thievery relay!
I’ve come to the conclusion that for our eldest to have half a chance of sleeping she has to have a stress free day, which is impossible to orchestrate when she has been to school. Although she enjoys learning, and likes to see her friends, she struggles in the classroom environment, and this is a breeding ground for stress. Which leads to her not being able to switch her thoughts off when it comes to going to sleep (or going back to sleep in the middle of the night).
As they share a bedroom, our middle girl has had to put up with a lot of disturbance. Figuring there would never be a good time, two weekends ago we moved her into a new bed, and since then she has hardly slept through the night at all. Being a child that is used to sleeping solidly, it’s really affecting her and we’re seeing more tantrums than ever before.
As for our youngest, who knows what’s going on with him, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern. It doesn’t matter how much he eats, whether he naps during the day or for how long, whether it’s a full moon. He is up on average five times a night, and often ends up in the marital bed, because trying to settle him back to sleep causes such a racket that it wakes the girls up.
This is how things panned out last night, which is fairly standard at the moment
6-6:30pm: Hubby did littlest’s bedtime, which sounded challenging and involved a lot of tears, while I read the girls a story
6:30-7:15pm: after a bit of messing around, the girls settled and fell asleep
10pm-midnight: littlest up three times, becoming noisier and noisier. Hoping it would pacify him and not wake the girls up I got him in bed with us
shortly after this: middle up for the first time, screaming because she couldn’t find her night light, even though it was in the bed next to her, she woke eldest up in the process
midnight – 2:30am: Eldest up and down five or six times with hubby, in the end demanded me, I went in to her three times before she finally went back to sleep
4am: middle up again screaming because it was too dark in the bedroom, again ignoring the night light in her bed
in the mean time: littlest had stolen my place and I ended up at the foot of the bed like the family pet
All kids up for the day at 6am
Can you help us?
I’m pretty sure that being the experts you will have lots of advice for us, so hit me with it. I’m all ears! If you fancy staying at our house for a few days to help turn our sleep situation around, I would gladly write about it here on the blog, and sing your praises all over social media in return.
Waiting with baited breath,