Guys, I’m not entirely sure how it all happened, but we went from revelling in the sweet triumph over one of parenting’s greatest feats – babies and toddlers who happily sleep through the night for 10 to 12 hours straight – to suddenly eating the dirt of pure defeat now with kids that fight night time sleep like they’re getting paid to do it.
And there’s us- Mikey and me- left feeling even more drained than normal.
What I think might have happened was that, as each night passed with both our growing life demands and work responsibilities now needing to be carried out on so little sleep, our flexible, yet set nightime routine (kids in bed no later than 7:30pm) became more and more “flexible” – you know that slippery slope. Sure, we said we need to pull up our socks and get back into the routine that these kids have followed since they were freakin’ four months old, but when you’re so mentally and physically tired, it’s easy to let “just five more minutes” turn into 2 flippin’ hours! So, the kids get to bed late- again– and this becomes the new normal for them. Fan-freakin-tastic. Three to four weeks later, it’s settled into their bones as a new habit. A new routine. And the next thing you know, Mike and I are caught in this vicious cycle. Too tired to break it.
Sound familiar? Maybe not exactly to the T, but I know plenty of parents who’ve fallen into this trap, and been stuck there ever since. And now, we were one of them. To add to the whole sleep drama, if you can remember from an older post, we’ve embarked on trying to get the girls to share a room. Because, we needed Parker to be out of the nursery well before baby comes. And,I mean, what mother hasn’t fantasized about that sweet sight of her kids cosily and cutely nestling up to each other in a deep, sweet slumber…like little angels that can do no wrong.
I mean, it’s pretty freakin dreamy, am I right? What’s more is that we thought, not only will it only add fuel to the sibling bond flames, but also Mike and I had envisioned an end to Morgy’s recent waking and calling for someone to lie by her at THREE in the bloody morning. I mean, if you have your sissy to cuddle up to, you wont need to call on us, right? Right. And to our credit, it actually did work out like that – no more calls in the middle of ungodly hours. BUT, it came at another price: The novelty of sharing a room just didn’t seem to ever wear off with them.
They loved sharing a room so much, they could barely fall asleep from the excitment. (As if they dont play enough during the day with each other) There were constant squeals of delight and laughter echoing from their room, until really really late. And it really didn’t matter what threats we put down, what consequences we laid out, the two of them just couldn’t help themselves. And even when, after 2 weeks, this eventually took it’s toll on Morgan-Lee (our most champion sleeper in the house). She eventually cracked and said she can’t sleep with all Parker-Grace’s shenanigans – but still wanted her to remain as her roomy – even cried bitter tears at the thought of us moving Parker out again. We felt like we were in a bit of stale mate.
Parker, as always, remained non-negotiable, and couldn’t understand why we wanted her to be quiet – “But Im happy mama! And sleeptime is playtime!”. (huh?!That’s like, the exact OPPOSITE of what we’ve been teaching you, child!) So there was no point in trying to apply logic with her in this case. So much for the Parker-Grace who used to ASK to go to bed! “Ya, I think I’m tired, I need to go sleepies.” (Thankfully, Morgy still asks – small mercies).
And it’s not just that we as parents were feeling horrid thanks to this constant lack of sleep and mental exhaustion, it was affecting our parenting. In a really BAD way. Like shouting, and losing our shit with our littles on the regular. I still feel ashamed about that, mind you. As human as my reactions may have been, those times are certainly not something I’m proud of. Our night time routine became cringeworthy. Mike and I both started to dread it, and felt like it was a pitiful existence we were leading – exhausted and mentally blunt at work, and short tempered at home. Not quite the happy home we were trying to build at all.
What was the worst part of it all, was the effect that it had on our kids. Their poor little brains – their still developing nervous systems – couldn’t manage the day on that little sleep. (Guys, they were clocking 11pm and midnight most days with their night time shenanigans!!Sometimes even later. Yes, later.) Sure, they still napped during the day. But this all resulted in a lot of mood swings, rough starts to the school morning for Morgy, and a clear lack of focus in learning. (Our reading lessons were filled with a little girl’s frustration and refusal to learn – far from the once keen and eager student Morgy was a few weeks before) Their emotions ran at constant extremes, there were bursts of tears – their’s and mine- randomly, and Parker’s defiant streak was at an all time high. This of course, as you can imagine, just went so well with Mike and my shortened thresholds. All because of a lack of sleep – on all fronts.
And I hated myself for it. Mostly because I’ve spent all of my motherhood making sure I took care of their sleep – knowing how vital it is. In fact, did you know that sleep health is as pivotal to a developing child’s health (and humans in general) as nutrition itself? If not more so! Society is just taking it’s time to catch up with the science behind it all. (Just like it took them a while with nutrition itself)
So much is regulated and kept in balance through sleep, especially for these little developing bodies of theirs. In order for them to make any sense of all that they’ve taken in for the day- the lessons, the emotions, the sights, sounds, smells, you name it – they need sleep to help their brains sort it out. Just like you and I, except on a much larger scale! They need sleep to keep their immune system up, and help them focus the next day. And yet, there I was, failing hard at it, and seeing the whole household pay the price for it.
Our years of “owning the night” from 7:30 pm onwards felt like a distant memory… So did our sanity. (For real, man. That’s not even a joke.) And with baby number three on her way, I knew we had to do something. Else, I might as well have booked Mike and myself into the looney house in advance already – because Lawd knows how crazy the newborn weeks can get! Can you even just imagine how that would go down?! I can! And it’s scary shit, man! So, I won’t be having it. I will not let our family go down like that.
So, no, this post does not tie up nicely with a neat little bow of how we fixed it all, but hopefully the next one on this topic will! Granted, we’ve already made a few changes recently, and that in itself has definitely helped, and mostly everyone’s sleep is better. (It was all we could honestly manage under our circumstances at the time.) But we need a complete overhaul of our routine. Like a format-C type of vibe, and get us back on track and back to our basics. And now that Im more in a hand-over period at work, things have definitely lightened up for me, and created enough space, I feel, to mentally tackle this whole heartedly, as it needs to be.
However, our little coconut is due in about t-minus +/-4 weeks. In fact, given my pattern, we’re probably looking at week 39 instead, so that’s about 3 weeks to go! And I want at least a full week of decent sleep for us all before baby gets here. You know, fill up the sanity tanks, and all. So, we’re looking at two weeks now.
Once we restore the sanity- because we WILL (I have faith like that)- I’ll share it all with you. In hopes of helping other momma’s and poppa’s out there who may need it too.
Here’s to sweet slumbers, and a more rational, sane and less dramatic Porter household. (although, these girls of our’s are pretty darn dramatic even when they’re well-rested.) Wish us luck! X