It’s 11 p.m. And I’m Up With My Toddler… Again

Ah, child sleep issues. If you go to Amazon.com and run a book search on “child sleep” you get 39,000 titles, ranging from Richard Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems (the classic on the cry-it-out method) to children’s books like Adam Mansbach’s Go The F**K To Sleep (a runaway bestseller intended to amuse children and adults alike).

I myself have written something like ten pieces on child sleep issues… and yet I can write more.

Last year, with a bedtime-resistant and multiple-nighttime awakening toddler, and hubby and I losing our minds, like two bipolar zombies, we employed the cry-it-out method. It was painful. It worked. We achieved bedtime order and full night sleeps, and it felt better than drugs. I extolled the virtues of cry-it-out to anyone and everyone.

It lasted maybe a few months.

Then, we had a ten-day trip out of the country, followed by The Winter of Endless Illness, and we fell back into bedtime disorder and nighttime awakenings. By spring, Babygirl was up usually once, sometimes twice a night. Not nearly as bad as it was last year, but it wasn’t ideal. So at the beginning of this summer, we tried cry-it-out again.

Now, it’s different with a two-and-a half-year old than it is with a one-and-a-half-year old child. Babygirl can talk. Really talk. And, she still vomits when she gets upset. So, cry-it-out meant enduring forty-five minutes to an hour of Mommy! Daddy! Where are you? I need you! I need a hug! From you! Now! WHERE ARE YOU MOMMY????? I NEED YOU!!!! AAAAAGH! I puked! It’s all over my crib! Yucky pukey! Mommy! Daddy! Come clean me up! I puked! I have puke on me! It’s all over me! AAAAAAGH!

And then we went in there and had to scrub the rug, mop the floor, change the entire crib, and run another bath for her. Just not worth it anymore. Done with that.

Then, there’s the loosey-goosey summer schedule. We’ve had a few trips, many late evenings, more missed or late naps… Our schedules are all over the place. Hence, her schedule is all over the place.

So, today. It was Thursday, my day off. Hubby is traveling. As usual, we crammed an unbelievable amount of commitments, appointments, and errands into the day. Babygirl fell asleep in the car at 5 p.m., while we drove to Babyboy’s speech therapy appointment, and slept for an hour or so. Of course, I knew that would mean a later bedtime. But this late???

Thanks goodness Babyboy is, and always has been, a good sleeper. After tubby time and books, he’s pretty cheerful about lights-out. He cuddles with his lovey and murmurs to himself for awhile. That’s it.

But Babygirl? I tried. I stuck to the routine: we tucked Babyboy in, then went to her room, turned her lights out and dream lights on, and rocked in the rocking chair. And rocked. And rocked. And sang. And then took her to use the potty because she insisted she wanted to pee in the potty (she didn’t). And then tried to put her in her crib and she kicked and screamed and I didn’t feel like cleaning up puke. And then let her cuddle with her lovey on the floor because she insisted that’s where she wanted to sleep. And then chased her in the hallway and tried to get her to lie down again. Laid down on the floor with her and rubbed her back and sang to her… She’d been up for so long, she got hungry, started begging me for food.  I gave up.

So here we are now, she and I, at 11:30 p.m., sitting on the living room couch. She got her cheddar bunnies with sun butter and jelly, and a Caillou marathon (really annoying cartoon on WBGH Sprout). I got the kitchen cleaned, the kitty litter scooped, the cats fed and brushed, the dishwasher running, the toys all picked up, the clothes folded, and a blog post written.

Productive? Of course. I may be mentally fried and physically finished, but I can still do housework, and write.

But I’d really like to f*****ing go to sleep.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “It’s 11 p.m. And I’m Up With My Toddler… Again

  1. Hi Monique, I can 100% empathize with your blog. The only one suggestion I have, and I know it may not be possible, but is to schedule (and I wish I could avoid that word) some quiet, no errand alone time with her. Maybe Saturday mornings, time just for her. With two very, very busy schedules, I can’t help but think she just wants to have that time just being, not doing, with you. And, my old co-workers know me for this- but more hugs!! I swear out kids crave our affection & undivided attention. And you may be thinking, “I rocked her for an hour though!” She may associate this time not as bonding/snuggle time, but as the time before the big separation of the day (could contribute to the night wakings). Sleep is about letting go & I believe part if that for a child is getting a daily, if possible, dose of a Momma’s or daddy’s love, attention & presence. With our busy schedules & tendency to multi-task, we can be with our children but our minds are elsewhere…. And I believe our kids really know the difference. First start with more touch & hugs during the day…my so at 9yrs. Still ask me for a real, stop what your are doing, bear hug :) Funny thing is he usually asks when my mind is in 100 places & I am running around doing three different things. It makes me stop, breath & appreciate what is really important. Good luck! I know you are a loving, attentive mommy- I did find these suggestions helped for me. I was there & still have not recovered. 😁 Wishing you lots of hugs & hours of restful sleep!!! Mary Green

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  2. One more thing, my very wise Mom of 6 children told me, & I believe to be true, each child may need different parenting. One child may require more attention than another….another may be more independent. I think girls in general need more affection & emotional attention 😊

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    • Oh Mary, Thanks so much for the warm and wonderful advice. I absolutely think the craving attention is part of it, and I am very guilty (even today) of checking in with work/ online banking/ blogging on the iPhone/laptop during those few precious hours with the kids. Last night when I was writing, she kept trying to crawl into my lap, between me and the computer, “Look at me, Mommy! Look at my eyes now!” and then, this morning Gio was up first, and he asked me, “Mommy, can we go somewhere, just you and me, and Maria can stay here with Daddy?” It was so cute and also heartbreaking at the same time. It is a wake-up call that we need to take the little time we have with our kids and make it truly quality time. So appreciate your comments. Hugs!

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  3. My kid was a horrid sleeper as a baby, a toddler, a child and now as a 30 something, she still is a bad sleeper. As is her Dad. Some people have sleep issues, some people are insomniacs, it may not be you, it may be her.

    We stopped allowing her to have naps at an early age, if anyone allowed her a nap, then boom, long nap, no sleep. So, no naps.

    Not that that is encouraging so much as just a reality check, sometimes it is not what you are doing, it is that sleep is a struggle. My kid did better once she was out of the crib because she would come into our bed without waking me up! I can still viscerally recall drowsing on her bedroom floor with the door closed whilst the toddler played with her toys! Lack of sleep is miserable! Crying it out never worked with that kid, but when she was older, reading and a small bedroom light allowed her to unwind on her own.

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    • Thanks for your comment! So funny. I’ve actually been thinking about transitioning her to a real bed, not because she’s crawling out of her crib, but so she doesn’t feel trapped, and can come to us if she needs to. She refuses to go into it if she’s awake now. More than once she’s rattled the wooden bars of her crib and said “I’m an animal locked in a cage!” I think she will be one of those kids that reads late into the night with a flashlight. And if I’m sleeping, that’s OK.

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  4. omdg

    Next she’s still napping at 5PM, wake her up.

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  5. My daughter (now 11) never napped and usually went to bed on time but had her night awakening issues, mostly when Jack was born. She still has trouble going to bed at night – Jack hits the pillow and is out by 8:30 or 9 (he is 9 – we have later bedtimes) but she can spin until 10 or 11 some nights. Now she reads! And stays in her bed. It is blissful. I remember reading by flashlight under the covers at lights out. Someday soon it won’t be on you anymore. And I agree, kids need one on one time, and they need different parenting as different personalities, but their personalities are partly hard wired and you can only do the best you can until they are a little more self sufficient. Then you miss the days when they needed you more (I’m there). It’s all or nothing, ha ha.

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  6. We’ve had a hard time learning alongside E how to get her into a good sleep routine, because H never needed one. But E definitely does, and I’ve had to become very protective of her sleep – she naps from 9-11 AM, and 1 or 2 PM until 3 or 4 PM, and then goes to bed by 8:30 PM. And it can be SO inconvenient making sure we’re always home at those times (she won’t sleep anywhere but her P&P, in a dark, quiet room with white noise) but the screaming drama if we deviate from the routine just isn’t worth it.

    That was a very interesting point that Mary made, about individual time during the day. It’s really hard to give each child individual attention (and I do have a habit of getting sucked into the internet when I pick up my phone for “just a second” to text M or take a picture of the kids or whatever). I think there may be a correlation between H being crazy at bedtime, and not having had enough one-on-one time during the day. He goes to bed pretty easily, but sometimes he drags bedtime out a lot more than other times, and will still be awake (quiet, but awake) when I go to bed an hour later (or more). I think those nights may tend to be on days when I’ve been pulled in different directions all day. I’m going to start keeping track and see if there’s really a correlation.

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