Monday, February 07, 2011

I hate bedtime

Some parents love bedtime so much that they put their kids to bed at five, six, or seven in the evening. If I tried that there'd be a Heissling revolt, guaranteed. Instead I try to have my kids in bed by eight.

Oh, and I loathe bedtime.

The past few months have been a living nightmare.

Living. Nightmare. Got that?

My children don't fall asleep no matter the number of bedtime stories I read or lullabies I sing. They just don't fall asleep.

"More! More! More!" they chant.

When I tell them that I am done, done, done, done for the day then they start in on the excuses. Miriam mostly whines and thuds her legs rhythmically against the mattress, but she does use the few excuses she knows.

"Momma, Momma!" is one such excuse. Another is potty. And yet another is nursing.

Rachel, on the other hand, has a whole repertoire.
I won't bore you with them all because, chances are, you know them by heart because you used them yourself as a child. She can get original, too, though. The other night she came out of her room to inform me that her "underwear suddenly shrunk" so she needed to change them.

"Your underwear suddenly shrunk?" I asked.

"Yeah, or I growed really fast," she told me.

"I'm sure," I said, "Well, change it quickly and get back into bed."

Goodness knows we can't go to sleep with shrunken underwear.

Once they are asleep—at, oh, ten o'clock...eleven o'clock—then I usually get to work in peace for a while before bed. Last night I opted to go to bed at eleven o'clock since it was Sunday and I don't work on Sundays. I don't think I fell asleep until after midnight. And then...

1:30 AM Miriam's up to nurse. If I deny her this then she screams for hours on end. So I give her a quick one and put her back to bed.

2:15 AM Rachel climbs into bed with me—nightmare.

3:00 AM Drag Rachel back to her own bed. She sobs. Miriam wakes up. I sneak off to bed hoping she'll fall back to sleep on her own.

3:15 AM Yeah, obviously that's not going to happen. She wants to nurse again so that's what we do. Anything for some sleep and/or quiet.

3:20 AM Miriam's still nursing. Rachel is still sobbing. I call out something like, "Zip it!" loud enough for Andrew to wake up and console Rachel.

3:45 AM Put Miriam back in bed.

4:00 AM Rachel has another nightmare.

4:30 AM Finally have Rachel settled.

5:45 AM Miriam wakes up.

6:00 AM Finally have Miriam settled.

6:22 AM Andrew's alarm clock goes off. He hits snooze. I hate it when he hits snooze.

6:30 AM Andrew's alarm clock goes off. He hits snooze. I hate it when he hits snooze.

6:38 AM Andrew's alarm clock goes off. I poke him until he sits up and promises to get out of bed.

7:15 AM Andrew kisses me goodbye. I wish him luck—he has the FSO test today.

8:00 AM Rachel wakes up. I tell her to go play quietly in the front room and to not wake her sister up.

8:30 AM She decides that quiet means she should put on the butterfly costume from the dress-up box that has velcro all down the front. *Riiiiiiip! Riiiiiiip! Riiiiiip!* Miriam wakes up.

Rachel insists she is not tired. How that is even possible I don't know.

We were talking about how to handle nightmares last night. I was telling her how I coped as a child—I pretended one of my stuffed toys was a VCR and that my nightmare was a video; I would simply eject the bad dream and put in a new, happy dream. It didn't always work but it gave me something to do to control my dreams—it's all psychological, right? Then I thought I'd sing her a song to see if she could get an idea for what she could do to treat bad dreams.

If on occasion you have found 
Your language is in question
Or ugly thoughts come to your mind, 
Then here's a good suggestion:

Just hum your favourite hymn, 
Sing out with vigour and vim!
And you will find it clears your mind. 
Hum your favourite hymn.

"Bad dreams are ugly thoughts, right? So what does the song teach us that we can do to get rid of them?"

"You said ugly. That will make me have bad dreams!"

She spent the next hour or so complaining about my use of the word ugly.

We talked about how she could say a prayer, too, instead of screaming or insisting on sleeping in my bed for the rest of the night.

"Please bless me to have good dreams," she said in her bedtime prayer, "And not bless me to have bad dreams."

Oh, and not last night but the night before, when I was on a 3:00 AM wake up call I had her listing happy things.

"Think of something happy," I told her, "And we'll just keep listing happy things until you fall asleep."

"A Christmas tree," she said.

"Oh, that is happy," I said, "What else is happy?"

She didn't say anything so after a while I suggested, "How about butterflies? Those are happy."

"No," said Rachel, "Another Christmas tree!"

"Okay...what else is happy?"

I left her to list happy things  on her own and went to go lie down. Two minutes later she let out a blood-curdling scream.

"What's wrong?!" I asked, rushing back into her room.

"I just thought of a talking Christmas tree with sharp teeth!" she wailed.

Oh. My. Goodness.

If I don't get a good block of sleep soon I think I'm going to die.

Or at least cry.

(Let's not be melodramatic).


  1. So sorry. I think she may be reliving my life as a child.

  2. Blech. I hope for your sake (and your girls' sake) that you're able to get some sleep!

    Once upon a time, my mom was taking my brother on a flight for some reason. This particular brother was the Tazmanian Devil when he was little. So, one of her friends suggested my mom give him Benadryl to knock him out for the flight. She thought that sounded like a good idea. Unfortunately, it had the complete opposite effect, and my brother was even more hyper than usual. :)

  3. Yuck!!!! Sadie was in our bed last night driving me crazy and I finally told Jason, just put her in her crib. I don't care how much she screams. And then she didn't. Kids are weirdos. Ezra has a lot of bad dreams. We do a lot of pre bed visualization. Every prayer involves, "Please don't let me have bad dreams." And then before he closes his eyes we do a brief session on what he plans to dream about that night. He and I discuss what he wants to think about for a few minutes and then I leave. It seems to help but who knows.

  4. Grandma L had the same trouble that you are having. Grandpa L went in to comfort Uncle Bob, after a long while Grandpa L never came back to bed. So Grandma L went in to see where he was and found him asleep curled up in the crib with Uncle Bob.

  5. How did I miss that you're still nursing Miriam? Go you!!!

    Also, "goodness knows we can't go to sleep with shrunken underwear" just might be worthy of vinyl lettering above my baby's crib. :D

  6. not that it helps, but you're not the only one. This sounds like our nightly routine too.
    I was just telling my mom, "WHY would anyone have 7 kids?!! That would mean AT LEAST 14 years of NO sleep, if all seven were like the two I've got."
    I feel like I'll have earned my place in a celestial mansion if I make it to 4, for the mere fact of all the sleep I'll have sacrificed.
    I have no idea what to tell you.
    I just keep telling myself, "I only have to endure this for the next 20 years. I'm 10% done." (I find that if I over-estimate, it's such a nice surprise when goodness happens sooner.)

  7. I know you know I sympathize, so very much.

    Have I told you about melatonin? We use it in a pinch to get one...or both...of the girls back to sleep (or to sleep in the first place, as the case may be).

  8. Hey, all you young mothers, try having a baby when you've got teenagers! So you NEVER sleep. Seriously. Waiting up for the teenagers, up with the baby.

    But even though it was hard, I wouldn't trade that last baby for anything--even though she NEVER slept. She didn't even sleep after she was born--born at 7 pm, and then UP and AWAKE the WHOLE night. And the next day...

  9. I went through with the older boys what you are going through now. I remember feeling so tired, worn out, I started resenting bedtime and my time with the boys at night. I was starting to feel angry with them. It was awful. I can tell you what we did (although this might not work for everyone - this is why this is so difficult, right? There's no ONE solution). To wean A out of our bed, first we let him sleep on a mattress on the floor next to our bed. If he woke up or insisted on going in our bed (in the beginning) he was only allowed to sleep on daddy's side and not bother mama. At first he protested and nights got if possible even worse, but after a week or so, things started getting better. Eventually he started sleeping well and staying in his "bed." In the meantime, I let W simply sleep next to me, and I was able to sleep through any nightly nursing session. Along with this, we also made sure he went to bed with a full tummy, which led to him not being very interested in eating at night, which in turn meant he settled for a cuddle to go back to sleep, which eventually meant we could put the two boys in their own bed in their own room. If they woke up, they'd usually get comfort from seeing the other and settle back to sleep. I'd say this development took about a year: from when W was 1 until he was 2.
    Did you try a reward chart with Rachel? Stickers for staying in bed, etc.?
    Hang in there Nancy! And take advantage of that sweet husband of yours! and anyone around you that is willing to help. You will get through this.