Sleep … please!

Sleep please - Ever-changing Life of a MumSleep. It may contain five letters, but right now it’s a four letter word in my home.

From the moment your children are born people begin asking: “Is she/he sleeping through the night?”.

Well, I’m here to tell you that even though my children may be aged five and nine years, NO they are most definitely not sleeping through the night.

Right now, Miss 9 is finding it extremely hard to get to sleep and makes herself more and more anxious as the night progresses wondering ‘how long it will take me to get to sleep’, ‘will I ever get to sleep’ and ‘what happens if I can’t get to sleep’ … sometimes until 1am in the morning!

Then there’s Miss 5 who can usually get to sleep with a little assistance and some relaxation meditations for children, but two or three hours later (if I’m lucky!) she’s up again and resists going back to bed.

Put the two together and you have one very sleep deprived 34-week pregnant mummy wondering what I have done wrong?!

I feel like I have tried EVERYTHING – good bedtimes routines are in place with no TV after dinner and just a bath, teeth and books before bed. We have night lights, ‘monster spray’, relaxation music and meditations. I give massages. I have burned essential oils. I have given natural sleep remedies and Epsom salt baths. I have tried the reward charts, rapid return method, sit and wait til they are asleep method, bunking the girls in together, getting grumpy and yelling (sorry but sometimes you hit a point) and taking away privileges. We have been to psychologists, paediatricians and tried medications. But we always come back at the same point – children who just can’t get to sleep or stay asleep. Sigh.

I have to confess that in desperation I recently resorted to a blow up mattress being parked next to my bed for when Miss 5 stumbles into the room in the middle of the night. I know it’s not a long term solution, but at least we get some sort of sleep.

Under the guidance of our sympathetic doctor we are currently trialling some melatonin for a few weeks to see if that provides any assistance and resets their little body clocks. No judgement please! I’m really not a fan in using medications to help children sleep, but I feel we have tried everything else. Apparently, melatonin is something that our brain naturally produces when we go to sleep, so the medication boosts these levels to help children sleep.

In the end, it has all left me wondering what I am doing wrong? I understand there have been some major shifts in our household of late, what with me being pregnant and Miss 5 starting school. But overall, my girls keep telling me how excited they are about having a little baby sister soon and my youngest is settling into school quite well.

I love my girls so much and I keep telling myself that things could be worse and that there are families experiencing far worse than this.  I keep telling myself I need to be grateful for having two healthy daughters and this can’t last forever. But in those hazy sleep deprived moments it’s very hard. And, I have to admit that with baby #3 due next month, this is all starting to freak me out a little.

So, yesterday that air mattress next to my bed was deflated and I have spoke calmly to the girls about how we are going to make this work. Pretty much, we’re going to go back to stage 1 where I will start to return the girls back to their beds again (and again and again) during the night. It’s going to be really hard work but it needs to be done.

Sometimes you feel like you’re the only one with children who can’t sleep. It can be very isolating, particularly in the middle of the night. I think mums often feel guilty, ashamed, sad when their children don’t sleep through the night – like they have failed and are doing something wrong. I’m writing this to reach out to anyone with children experiencing sleep difficulties to let them know that they’re definitely not alone and we’re all doing the best we can.

HELP! Do you have children who don’t sleep well? What have you tried to get them into good sleeping habits?


15 thoughts on “Sleep … please!

  1. That sounds tough, especially so close to bub arriving. I don’t envy you. Instead I have a 2 year old co sleeper who has not even got her own bed as we simply never tried her in the cot or got her a big kid bed. Soon. She sleeps through only because she can reach over and feel me there. Also not a great thing with a new born coming soon. But I really hate other people judging it. We don’t mind so neither should they (I.e. Our mums). Good luck getting your girls sleeping better.

    • Thanks for your kind words Holly. Yes I feel the same way with using a mattress next to our bed for Miss 5. While I don’t feel judged for it (most of my friends are sympathetic and tell me that I need to do what I need to do) but it’s not a good situation to be in when bubs arrives next month so I’m trying to sort things out now before it all snowballs into something crazy!

    • Oh no! How old are your three children Emily? Sometimes I go through periods where I accept the way things are (right now is not one of those times) and I tell myself that surely they will eventually grow out of it … I’m just hoping sooner rather than later as nine years is a long time to still be waiting.

  2. I have all the sympathy in the world for you. Sleep deprivation is a nasty thing and you simply cannot think straight or clear headed about anything. I have no advice for you unfortunately. I know you need a long term solution but I would just do whatever it takes for all of you to at least get some sleep, if that means leaving the mattress on the floor than I’d do that. I hope you all get some peace and rest soon.

  3. Gosh Erika, that would be tough! My boy slept badly due to oversized tonsils, but since having them removed, he sleeps through the night. Recently I was at a parenting course, and the psychologist recommended a book to help kids with busy brains – it’s called sitting still like a frog. Perhaps worth a look at.

  4. My eldest went through a stage of not sleeping for a couple of months when she was around 11 yrs old. I think she was stressing inside about high school and more work and would she be smart enough. I tried everything too. In the end, we persisted by simply talking about it and she eventually grew out of it. It was just a stage and she has not had problems since (now nearly 15)

    • Thank you for your words of encouragement, it’s greatly appreciated. We have had a few better nights with my eldest since I wrote my post, but it’s like walking on eggshells every night wondering what it will bring. I’m sure it’s just a phase and we’ll get through it.

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