Last night, once all the kids were asleep, I sat down to write this post, ironically with a bit of a tiredness headache. Within 30 minutes of looking at the laptop screen my little headache had developed into a full blown migraine and there was nothing else for it but to take some painkillers and go to bed. Carl brought Ernie in to me when he woke up for milk and then went to sleep in the girls room with them. The girls normally wake up in the night and come into our bed, so this set up meant that I was only disturbed by Ernie when he needed feeding and as we cosleep with him, I barely have to wake up to sort him out, just pop a boob in his mouth and go straight back to sleep. I had a blissful 9 hours sleep so my Fitbit tells me, and I obviously needed it! Not only that but the girls stayed in their room till they woke at 6.30am and judging by their mood, they are feeling a lot more rested this morning. I don’t think they sleep very well with five of us squashed into a double bed with cot attached either. The only person who didn’t wake up refreshed this morning was poor Daddy, who had spent the night hanging off the edge of a toddler bed.
So today I’m writing this with a much clearer head, and my clear head tells me, we desperately need to do something about our sleep situation. We all need more, and better quality sleep. I know I’m not going to get anywhere with my mission to get healthy until I’m getting more sleep, I just don’t have the motivation or energy to do anything except the basics. I just don’t do well on little sleep, I need 8 hours to be at my best, 6 hours to be at half my usual self and any less than 5 hours a night for a couple of days in a row and my body throws a strop and forces me to go to sleep. Carl seems to be able to cope a bit better than me and 5-6 hours for him seems to be enough, but even so I can see the sleepless nights are taking their toll on him.
I don’t mind waking up to feed Ernie, it’s just that I’d rather not have to do it with a 3 year olds elbow pressed into my back and a 2 year old sleeping in on my feet.
First of all we need to sort out bedtime so that everyone is asleep at an acceptable time, in their own beds. That way Carl and I have a chance at some sort of an evening before we have to give up and join them in our bed, not sleeping.Divide and conquer used to be our rule, but now there’s three of them it’s a bit more tricky. If we try and do bedtime all together, the girls wind each other up until they are bouncing balls of hyperactivity and me and Carl are screaming ‘FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP JUMPING AND PUT YOUR PAJAMAS ON!’ And poor Ernie can’t fall asleep in all that racket so he ends up getting over tired to the point that once the girls are finally asleep, one of us is pacing the floors with a very unsettled little boy. If we try and stagger their bedtimes it ends up taking a really long time because each of them like a cuddle until they fall asleep.
The new bedtime routine that I’m trialing tonight is for me to put Ernie to sleep in our room while Carl baths the girls and gets them ready for bed in their room (this may or may not be a disaster), then hopefully I will be finished in time to join them for their story and to help them fall asleep. I know we need to try and withdraw from cuddling them to sleep but I’m prepared for that to be a very slow and gradual process to cause them the minimal upset. My aim is to have them in bed by 7pm and asleep by 7.30.
The other thing we need to tackle with the girls is what happens when they wake up in the night. Now my first mad thought was why don’t we just get a second double bed for the girls room, Carl can share that with them and I can share ours with Ernie. Very kind of me I think to think about Carl’s poor back! But although that would solve our problem for the short term, and I’m all for just doing whatever works when it comes to kids and sleep, I do want to start to try to teach the girls that they don’t need Mummy or Daddy next to them in order to sleep if I possibly can and you know, I would miss Carl a little bit.
So instead, I’ve put their little toddler beds back together to make a mini double. We used to have their beds like this but I pulled them apart a few months ago. I think it’s clear that this isn’t working. Mabel said that she thinks it’s a great idea and is excited about sleeping in there tonight with Greta, so we shall see. They actually used to settle each other when they woke up when they slept like this before so fingers crossed! If they wake up in the night and come looking for us, then Carl can go in their bed to settle them and it hopefully won’t be as uncomfortable for him, but the plan is for them to sleep in there on their own for as much of the night as possible.
Ernie’s sleep is actually the least of my worries, he sleeps pretty well in his cot which is attached to the side of my bed and usually goes straight back to sleep after a feed. I don’t expect him to be able to sleep on his own for a very long time and he will probably be in with us for at least his first year. The one thing I am going to try with him though is a dream feed when I go to bed, so hopefully I can get a bit of a longer chunk of undisturbed sleep until I have to feed him again.
All my children are still very young so obviously they aren’t going to sleep through the night every night and this isn’t about trying to make them. I’m just making a few changes that will hopefully mean we all sleep better and we can cope with the wake ups a bit better too.
The person who needs to make the biggest change is me! I need to prioritise my sleep, I feel like half the mum I want to be when I’m tired and I can’t go on like this. I lack patience, enthusiasm, motivation, it’s just not how I want to live. At the moment I quite often go to bed at midnight, which is ridiculous quite frankly when you know you are going to have to feed a baby a few times during the night and then your toddlers will wake you up between 6 and 7 am. And the reason for this is that I go downstairs at 8 when the children are asleep, I chat to Carl, make a cup of tea, raid the cupboards for chocolate and then I get the laptop out and sit on the sofa. I’ll then faff around half writing a post, half an eye on Facebook, half an eye on the TV, my phone in one hand scrolling through Instagram, I then stop all of that to tell Carl a funny story about the kids that I’ve just remembered. Basically I do everything I don’t get a chance to do during the day because I’m too busy being a mum. Then it will get to 11 and I’ll realise I’ve not done anything very productive and I haven’t finished my post and I’ll have to stay up late to get it done for the morning.
So, I’m getting strict with myself, from now on my bedtime is 10.30, like it or lump it. If I don’t have a post ready for the morning then tough luck. I really like to have something new to post everyday on here but honestly, it’s not the end of the world is it? Maybe a self imposed bed time will help me to focus my time a bit better anyway and I’ll stop faffing and get my posts finished a lot quicker. Maybe I’ll spring out of bed refreshed in the morning and I’ll be able to do a bit of writing before Carl goes to work. Who knows? Dream big, I say.
Laura at Dear Bear and Beany has also been struggling with sleep deprivation, and I must say I was shamefully relieved when I read her post this morning, to know that at least it’s not just us that are still struggling with sleep with a 3/4 year old.
And incase anyone is wondering, my water drinking challenge is going quite well so far. Obviously I am not the sort of person who manages to actually keep track of how much water I drink on a daily basis, but I am definitely drinking more. I can tell that from how many times I need to use the toilet!
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