Monday, August 22, 2011

Stop. Press.

Okay- lets talk about sleep.

I love it. I need it. I don't get enough of it.

At the moment we are averaging about 3 wake ups a night with 2 of those coming form the Young Man. Throw in a 5 am start from the Lady Baby and Dave and I are b.l.o.o.d.y e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d.

I'm okay with a quick feed for the little lady, especially when she goes back to sleep without an issue.
It's when the Young Man wakes and tantrums that I have a hard time being patient. Especially when it would appear that he just wants to play. Seriously, he screams and bangs on his door until one of us goes in, then its game on. 'I want to play mummy' or 'lets read a story'.

Occasionally he will wake and say he is scared. Once he told me that a possum came and tapped on his window. When I asked if if he was frightened he responded with 'no mummy, because possums hunt beetles and bees eat honey'. Right then.

 So, tell me wise ones, what should I do with a 2 (and 4 month) year old when they have returned to night waking for no obvious reason?

 Should I just leave him to cry it out (I don't think I could actually do this)? Should I pat his head until he falls back to sleep, should I play with him and read him a story (please say no)? Should there be consequences for throwing a tantrum in the middle of the night? if so, what should they be?  Share with me your experiences.

I'm so out of my depth here. 

Oh, he is also dropping his day sleep and becoming a total terror to get to bed in the evenings despite having a consistent routine. Oh sleep, why do you taunt me?


  1. Oh thats a very tiny version of The Young Man up there.

  2. ugh sleepless nights are a killer..
    i was going to suggest maybe he was sleeping to much during the day, but, nope.
    could you wear him out a little more so he has a day time nap, sometimes good sleep = good sleep right?
    could he be cold? R started waking in the night again and just by chance i chucked another blanket on his bed, and he stopped waking.
    too light in his room?
    I'm sure you have thought of all of this already..
    fingers crossed you get some good sleeps soon. xx

  3. Ouch for you and your lack of sleep. I'm not there yet, but I remember my nephew started night waking when he dropped his day time sleep. My sister's midwife told her it can take a few months (sorry sweets) for them to catch up with the change. Hopefully it is sunny in your neck of the woods so you've got some lovely vitamin D rays to soak up the exhaustion. x

  4. Honestly, I ABSOLUTELY feel for you!

    After 2 consecutive months of half hourly wake-ups from my 7 month old, I checked into a sleep school, and ... It was without a doubt the best thing I have done!

    It was so life-changing for us as a family (yes, apparently sleep is THAT important) that I dedicated an entire post to it (if you can be bothered trawling through my archives - it's a post titled 'not just a sleep school').

    Also, the crying thing ... I was the same! Was, being the operative word :)

    The nurses taught me that there are so many different cries, hardly any of them are actually need-to-respond-to cries. We learnt that our baby was in fact, not crying, just grizzling. And now I've learnt he grizzles himself to sleep, so here we were interrupting him all those months when he was actually just sending himself to sleep?!?!?!

    I'm sure it's so different with a 2 (and a bit) year old, so I have no advice to give, other than, hang in there!

    But for me, going to a sleep school with my son was truly the best thing I could have done. I learnt so much about him/me/motherhood and the benefits of sleep (for both baby AND you).

    Good luck xx

  5. what works well with our 2.5yr old for bedtime is doing his usual routine, tucking him in and telling him 'I'm just going to go to the loo/make a cup of tea/ put the dishwasher on' etc 'and I'll be right back to see how good you are at laying quietly in your bed'.The first few nights he was still awake when we came back about 5 mins later so we told him how good he was than made another excuse, the next time he was asleep, now we only have to tell him one time. Think this trick came from Diane Levy but know we used it with the other two at the same age and it worked really well. Middle of the night tantrums we don't have such a good solution for, we just pull him in with us and he goes back to sleep ...but we don't sleep so well

  6. I hear you lady. And I have nothing to say. Except *fucking nightmare*. Hang in there. Kellie xx

  7. My boy always was (still is) hard to get to sleep. It could be that his little brain is going a million miles an hour and he can't switch off enough to sleep. A warm lavender bath and warm milk before bed somewhat helped, as did some wind down time together in bed. I definitely wouldn't play or read in the midst of the night, just some firm gentle reassurance maybe a toilet trip if he's trained or make sure he's not needing change a tuck back in and letting him know that you're very tired and need your sleep to play with him the next day. It's a really difficult shift when they cut out that day nap, because they usually still need it.
    Good luck, hope you get some much needed rest soon.

  8. Sorry, no answers here for you :( but he sure was a cutie!

  9. I can't really give advice from experience, seeing as my little one is only 2.5 months old! But friends have used the method the previous poster mentioned - "I'm just going to go to the toilet (or something similar), I'll be back in 5 minutes to check on you" and most of the time they are asleep by the time you go back in there. The same friends also placed a small mattress on the floor next to their bed so that if their son was frightened he could be 'with' Mum and Dad without waking them. I wish you luck, as sleep deprivation is nasty!!

  10. Oh lady do I feel your pain. Answers? Got NONE. I know! So helpful! I think it would be hard/impossible to let the 2 year old cry it out. Daisy has and is a SHOCKER in the sleep department. She wakes in a pissed off mood, tantrums in the middle of the night, night terrors, you name it, she has had it. I have always just tried to stick to some kind of routine/order even if it is in the middle of the night. If he is up early or in the middle of the night wanting a story - then keep a low light on, say one story and wait it our till he sleeps. Not ideal I know but he MIGHT get back to sleep and MIGHT not get into tantrum phase with him kind of getting what he wants.I always found that winding them up and getting angry at them in the middle of the night just makes things worse. I bet he doesn't want to be awake- just part of the whole learning how to sleep thing. It's just one of those phases - particularly given him dropping the day sleep - exhaustion = bad sleeps. He'll get through it.

    As for lady baby? MINX. I don't know?

    Helpful I know x

  11. We are finally at the tail end of 6 months worth of sleep issues with our 4 1/2 year old - yes she's 4 1/2. I ended up seeing a psychologist, I was completely shattered bordering on depressed and she gave me some lovely gentle advice which worked well if you have the strength to see it through. When your boy gets up the first time, gently pick him up and say 'it's sleep time now' and put him back in bed. Close the door. Repeat this if he gets out again. From the third time onwards just pick him up and put him in bed and close the door. No talking, no reasoning, no bargaining, nothing. I also started a star chart (but your boy might be too little?) for every night she stayed in bed all night she got a star and after 7 she was allowed a gift we had pre-bought (for her it was a peppa pig dvd) and she really loved collecting stars. It took about 3 weeks, and after that we had a few spats of getting up but now, she sleeps through 12 hours!!! I think you can only gauge how far you want to go and what tactics work within your style of parenting. I wanted a gentle approach and that worked for us. Good luck, I know how very very hard it is parenting on little sleep.

  12. You been given some good advice above so i dont really have much to add. However when my now 4 year son was about 18 months he started waking up during the night and very early at 5am!!! The only thing what worked for us was to send his dad in and settle him back to sleep because when i went to him all he wanted was to be picked up and cuddled and so on. My son knows that his Dad means business and what he says goes so he would do as he said most of the time. Not sure if this would work for you but its just my experience with night waking. Hope this sleep things sorts itself soon so you can all get some much needed rest Xx

  13. i can't help re: the sleep situation, as you know. but i surely cannot believe that the little man was EVER that small. its a crazy world.

  14. Hello,
    this may be severe (especially given I don't comment much although read your blog regularly)but you need to be very firm (mother of three qualified expert but have managed to get 3 VERY good sleepers from 3 very different personalities).
    Do not speak to him unless absolutely necessary
    Do NOT read a story under ANY circumstances :)
    Get a dimmer switch if you don't have one and if possible don't even turn that on (use a low light in a hallway or another room to illuminate his room whilst you deal with him)
    Re settle him after dealing with requests for water, toilet etc and then leave the room :))
    They are like kidnappers...if you engage it only gets WORSE!!!!!!
    Good luck...I shall be reading with interest:)
    PS Love your blog!!!!

  15. Oh, I sympathize greatly. 2 year old critter going through the same thing here. The dropping of the day sleep really does affect their night sleep. Our boy tends to sneak into our bed at night. We've tried taking him back into his own bed, but that's when the tantrums start. We are moving house soon, so don't want to do too much at the moment because that's going to shake things up as well. I can't offer too much help except to say that my nearly 4 year old went through exactly the same thing at exactly the same age (between 2 and 2.5) so that makes me think it may be normal. We did the return her back to bed thing with her, took a while, and was exhausting, but worked. Just had to be consistent. I really hope you get some decent sleeps soon. This sleep deprevation exhaustion IS the mother of all evils!

  16. My kids are awesome sleepers....feel free to swear at me .. I happily take it as I am a really nasty Mum if they ever wake at night (ok I am nice if it seems genuine terror etc or lost toys etc).
    If it is just shouting/ tantrum style they get a friggin bright light slammed on and stomp across the room and a rather firm "IT IS STILL SLEEP TIME, GO BACK TO SLEEP" I lie them back down, tuck them back in , kiss the forehead and say see you in the morning and walk out.
    So far it has worked.... Good Luck Hun... I "think" they got the fact that genuine sickness night waking etc Mum is cuddly Mum, calling out for nowt...Mum is GI Jane x

  17. We are currently suffering too. Our son is 19 months and he sleeps with us - I know!! It was the easiest thing to do when he was younger as he was a difficult baba and with breastfeeding too. He takes ages to go to sleep every night so I am held hostage until sometimes 10pm. If we leave the room, he just goes hysterical, it's so bad.

    Now he is waking up at 3am full of beans, clambering over me and OH acting like a real loon. Laughing out loud and doing toddler gymnastics. It can take in excess of an hour to settle him down. We are at breaking point.

    Hope you get sorted soon, I'm interested in seeing what others say. x

  18. Lack of sleep sucks .... its shit. And it makes everything so much harder - I mean how are we supposed to wake up in the morning and be patient when we have been up half of the bloody night!!
    My 6yr old sleeps fine and has done for a few years now, Little Miss 4 wakes at 4.20am most days - "just for a cuddle" but I literally cuddle her and tuck her back in and she goes back to sleep. Little Miss 2 is the cheeky one. Sometimes she sleeps through and sometimes I am up 3-5 times a night (It used to be 3-5 every night but I think one night I threatened to put her outside in the dark and it scared her back to sleep!)
    I have no tips as we have tried everything with my kids over the years but I do know that if I send Hubbie in, most of the time the kids settle quicker (and he is the patient one not the scary one)
    Hope you find the magic trick soon x

  19. No magic solution but have been through the sleep wars and can sympathize greatly. My oldest started the day at 4.30 for 2 and a half years and went through a phase of waking x3 at night for about 6 months as well at around the same age, I was just about bonkers. No idea what fixed it but it just stopped at some point. We did find a solution to the early morning wakening just this year at age 5! we decided we had enough and discovered the Groclock- it is made by the people who makes Grobags and it is a nightlight that counts down the stars until wake up time when the sun appears. Within a week our son was sleeping in until 6 am and we wished we found it 3 years ago! The premise is that if they wake overnight they can get a rough idea by how many stars are left how long it is until morning (it starts with about 10 and counts down to 1 at 5 am) you can set the wake up time to whatever you like and can also set naps apparently. We gave our son rewards for every day he did not disturb us before 6 am when the sun came up and he was cured within a week- this week he even went to 7 am! Not totally sure if it would help as our son was not night waking anymore but might be worth a try- we got ours at good luck melx

  20. Oh lord, it's hideous when the sleep routine gets thrown into chaos isn't it. We went through a really bad phase when the eldest was 2.5... however it coincided with the arrival of baby number 2, so I'm not sure how much of it was related to that. I actually have no good advice on this matter, as I handled it for a while by going in and sleeping in his bed with him, until he went back to sleep. Problem was, I'D also go to sleep and wake up all crooked and cold, from squashing myself on the edge of the bed with hardly any covers on. Just recently, when we went through another rough patch with the big boy (who was just over 3 at the time), I changed the boys room around. Turns out he likes sleeping with the bed positioned in the opposite direction to how we had it. Who knew!? Alot of this stuff is trial and error Emily. Hope you get it sorted soon, you poor thing xo

  21. sympathise,empathise but you just try all the stuff you are supposed. My 9 year old (yes you read right) has only started sleeping all night - sleep school failed as a baby along with everything else until the sleep doctor at the RCH in Melbourne saw madame again and not sure what voodoo she used but it has worked..but you don't really want to wait another 7 years and go mental like I have!..some of them are just born that way (oh how lady gaga) but that doesn't help mummies at all when 'they' tell you that. go with the flow and do what you think is best.....

  22. It was so long ago that I went through this that I hardly remember at all. I don't remember what I did when the kids got up, but I do remember the frustration when they wouldn't stay in bed and just go to sleep!
    Watch this, I'm sure you can relate and have a giggle.
    I showed my sister who has 3 year old twins plus a 2 year old, and who is going through hell at night at the moment, and she said it made her feel better, like she wasn't the only one going through it.
    Good luck,
    Rach x

  23. Get a big bed and snuggle. Hang in there, all my kids have been poor sleepers but even the worst got better. Sleep school twice and still a sucker to those lonely cries with the third. See if you can get a night off - just one good nights sleep makes you feel so much better. They're all different and there are no quick fixes.

  24. got nothing for you here hun. but if you do need to go out in the day, try not to go out in a half-n-half outfit like i did yesterday. workout clothes on the bottom, going out clothes on the top. i was so freaking tired i forgot i had started to get changed. good luck, although maybe something in the air? we've had sleepless nights here too.

  25. Oh Em, sleep deprivation is the pits! It really does your head in, doesn't it. It looks like you have been given lots of ideas to try. I used to tell my eldest during the day that tonight he was going to sleep all night, and that if he woke and the sun wasn't up yet he should go back to sleep. If he did wake, I reminded him that the sun wasn't up yet, & all the kookaburras/dogs/cats/daddy/etc. were asleep because it was sleep time. Not sure about the tantrum thing... be strong, and don't give in... but be loving at the same time. I'll be praying that you get some good sleep soon!

  26. what I know for sure about kids is they will sleep when they want to and eat when they want to and you know what I am cool with that x

  27. A friend of mine had a special clock/light/picture thing and told her little ones that once the hand on the clock reached the 'sun' it was ok to get up and they were rewarded if they stayed in bed until then. Also, I agree that under no circumstances should you talk to/reason with or 'give in' (unless a genuine problem) in the middle of the night, it is hard but be firm and he will learn that the middle of the night is NOT play time and mummy is NOT up for a play at this time of the night :)
    Our almost 2 year old occasionally wakes and he just lay him back down, tuck him in and say "go to sleep" and leave. Sounds harsh, but he knows now, that we mean business. Good luck. xx

  28. Sorry Em, no help here. I haven't slept for about 5 years... x

  29. I think you have some awesome advice already. I have three kiddies and all have had sleep issues. Lucky for me I can function quite well on not much sleep...apparently??? Our littlest is 10 months and has been waking hourly since about 5 months. It seems she has no dummy, can't figure out how to suck her thumb so uses the next best thing as a replacement for her need to suck.....ME!!!!! I have gotten a bit tough in the last ten days and it seems to be working. Here's what I have done. Sing the same lullaby to her before I put her down. Lay her down and pat her back (she is a tummy sleeper) and say lay down, time for sleeping! Then I keep shh shh shhing and stay in the room but don't pat her. If she stands up I lay her down and say "lay down time for sleeping" (this happened countless times in the first three days. But the thing that has helped the most is a muslin cloth draped over the side of her cot so she cannot see what else is happening! (removed before we go to bed)I think it is the repetition and routine that has helped. Hope you have success however it happens.

  30. P.S I still feed her through the night if it has been a while between feeds. And she still manages to be in the bed with us alot but it is better than it was. Just didn't want you to think it had gone from bad to perfect.

  31. Oh dear. The quick feed worked for me during the first phase. I have four kids. Once they each turned about two I was/am comforting when they were/are unwell, otherwise I made myself as unwelcoming as possible during the night (not hard for a grumpy cow like me)! The youngest is now approaching 4. They all sleep well. There is light at the end of the tunnel. How long is the tunnel? No-one can tell you that! Hang in there, and trust your instincts.

  32. I am currently dealing with a 2 year old who is have disturbed sleeps at night and is back to 5 am wakes ups and am as clueless as you sorry.

    I am getting desperate. I ordered a Groclock a few days ago and hope to God it gets here quick smart!!

    Best of luck to you all!

  33. Sticker charts and "prizes" worked for us. I have a 3 and 2 year old we're getting to sleep in the same room while we wait for the new bub to arrive. Sticker charts and a big bowl of lucky dip prizes have stopped most issues. The prizes are sticker sheets and cars and stamps, nothing big or expensive, just nice little prizes. I never though I'd resort to bribery but it works for us. Better than yelling in the middle of the night!

  34. Em, I feel your took me straight back here:

    But can I tell you, that first year with three (under six) was so, so full on, and the sleep was a big part of it. Not just the baby but the big two. Keith and I were up and down like jack-in-the-boxes. Haggard doesn't begin to describe it. But Georgie turned 2 yesterday, and times have changed. There's still a wake-up or two, but easy-manage ones, and nights of full sleep are'll get there! It's a season. It will end. x

  35. I've been lucky enough to get a good sleeper but there are nights when he doesn't want to play ball & my husband and I take turns in putting him back to bed stating it is bed time, no stories & no playing it is time for rest and sleep. We are gentle, give him a cuddle, stroke his hair, tuck him back in and kiss him good night.. If it continues we move up to the firm voice and each time we leave it a little longer before going in his room and let him cry/tantrum. But we always show affection with a cuddle & kiss. Make it quick, swift and heartfelt when you are in the room so they feel the love but you are not in there long enough for them to get grippy & they know you mean go back to sleep.

    Eventually he gets the picture and goes back to sleep. We don't budge and no giving in. It isn't easy especially with 3 kidlets and as parents we just have to what we have to do and try to remember it is just a phase & give ourselves a pat on the back for doing our best.

  36. Best thing we ever did with our 9month old boy was to follow the then, 1989! "controlled crying" method from a very trusted and experienced maternal & child healthcare nurse, who was raising 4 boys herself. It took a week of heartbreaking training ~ more heartbreaking for us than him! ~ and he's slept for 12 hours a night since then, sometimes even more! Even when he outgrew the day sleeps! He is now 24 yrs old and has loved his sleep ever since!! Not sure what controlled crying is called now, but I know all the sleep schools have great advice & "training" if you have to go down that path.
    The advice above is terrific, especially from Lib!
    Try the following:
    a bedtime ritual e.g.
    * bath,
    * feed,
    *light massage with the lights down low (apparently dimmed lights triggers sleepy hormones ~ who knew? ) and stick to it for about 2 weeks.
    In the meantime, when night waking occurs, DO NOT SWITCH ON LIGHTS, just a low distant night light, in the hallway perhaps? & check that all is ok without talking, a few tummy or back pats etc is powerful stuff as touch is a far greater communicator & soother than speech! Say "sleep now" and walk away.
    Also, make sure there's no health issues such as ear aches/infections/sniffles etc before attempting any new strategies! People for whom controlled crying hasn't worked found out later that their bub had other issues going on!
    Good luck with it all and let us know how you get on.
    BTW, I absolutely love your blog, read it often, even though I don't comment and think you are amazingly inspirational!
    I adore you from afar and reckon you're doing a marvelous job with your precious family.
    Sending a tonne of blessings and hope you get some deep restful sleep soon!


Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em