Is what my small son says to me often. “Sleep is boring, Mummy, I don’t like going to bed”. I want to, but don’t reply, because it would be unhelpful, “I agree, I hate this bedtime thing, it’s boring, frustrating, and I would rather be elsewhere….”
Bedtime is supposed to be a calm, peaceful, happy time. Settling the children, relaxing them into bedtime, and a sound stretch of sleep. Neither of those things are currently happening in our house at the moment.
Little Man, the light of my life, but also the source of my sleep woes, currently hates going to bed, going to sleep, sleeping in his own bed, and basically turns from a normal, slightly naughty 4 year old into an anxious, clingy, needs his Mummy present all night, to sleep happily and won’t settle to sleep alone.
We have had our sleep ups and downs. I knew when we came home from the hospital and he took to breastfeeding like he had read all the books on the topic, and slept in 4 hour stretches from the get go, and was sleeping 6-8 hours a time from 6 weeks (and was gaining weight so well, that the nurse at the well baby clinic was impressed – a hard thing to achieve, if you have ever been in one of those well baby clinics) and was generally an easy baby, that I was onto a winner, and I had it all sussed. I was the envy of the other mothers of babies the same age as him, who were waking up hourly, or nursing their babies through the night, while I got big chunks of sleep.
Of course, this all stopped when his ears started to cause him problems and pain when he was nine months old, and we entered what was frankly sleep and behaviour hell for nearly 3 years until he had his grommet operation. You can read about all that here.
It’s been a year since his operation, and whilst he is doing a lot better, his sleep is still in polite terms, “stuffed up”. Some nights, he will sleep well, and will sleep all night in his own bed, and other nights, he will wake, appear to have had bad dreams or be very distressed, and then will take up residence in the middle of our fortunately super king sized bed, and will sleep next to me, in fact glued to me, if he can be. Settling him to sleep at night is a bit of a shambles too, with me having to sit with him until he falls asleep, which sometimes can take up to 45 minutes, or longer, with lots of procrastination and anxiety on his behalf, and frustration d a desire for down time, to end my day, and a large glass of wine for me. A familiar feeling for many tired parents, I am sure?
I am aware that it is normal for children to struggle with sleep, for bedtime and sleep patterns to go haywire with growth spurts and developmental stages and when I speak to families of children LM’s age, it reassures me that I am not alone, in my frustration that my little boy doesn’t want to go to sleep, and when he eventually does, it’s sweatily glued to me, in my bed, taking up most of the space, duvet kicked off, so I get cold, and cramped and with LSH and a cat or two clinging on to the other side of the bed.
I am not going to suddenly force him, brutally to sleep alone, in his own bed. We haven’t taught him, (either because we were too tired, or there didn’t seem to be much point, during the sleep hell period) to settle to sleep alone, and to be able to self soothe. He is a lot more needy than his “slept twelve hours in her own bed from toddler hood” sister and we are still working our way through some sensory issues and emotional needs he needs help to handle. He isn’t suddenly going to sleep all night, in his own bed, and need me less. I don’t want him to need me less, he is only 4, he is still my baby in many ways, but I would like for him and I to be getting better sleep and I would like my bed space back (I keep hopefully telling LSH that we won’t have to deal with him as a teenager in our bed!)
So, next week, when we get back from our much needed holiday, a new routine starts. I have, despite all of my protests before about not reading parenting books bought a book about sleep. I usually despise books written by so called “experts” on sleep, but this one was recommended to me, and I have spoken to a number of parents who have used it successfully. We will be implementing a new routine, gently teaching my little boy that sleep is not boring but much needed, that going to bed is not a thing to dread (hey, that’s almost poetical) and hope that eventually, he will be able to settle himself to sleep when he wakes, and that we will all get a much better nights sleep.
One day, I won’t be blogging about sleep, but for now, you will have to put up with me, as we work through teaching us all some better sleep habits. I once blogged “sleep is for the weak, and I am weak”, right now, I feel very weak. I could let him sleep in our bed, for as long as he likes, and part of me doesn’t have a problem with this, but running on now almost 4 years of very little sleep, I am TIRED, properly tired, and I need to make some changes for all our sakes.
Wish me luck..
The book in question is this one.
*If I have done it right, there is an affiliate link within this blog post*