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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A story about not sleeping...

As a mum of three, I am no stranger to sleep deprivation.

My children started keeping me up at night before they were even born (giant heads on my now weak bladder) and they are showing no signs of stopping yet.

The husband and I have read alot of books about sleep training, done alot of Internet research on night terrors. Downloaded alot of sleep-inducing music.
Spent a lot on night lights. We've lost many a night's sleep discussing/arguing how to get a night's sleep.

But it always boils down to this. We are weak. We are sleep addicts.

We break all the rules.

Maybe they would sleep better if we did "cry-it-out", stopped drinks before bedtime, bottles during the night, letting them sleep in bed with us, or even wedging in bed with them - but when it's 2am all we care about is going back to the land of nod, and we don't care what it takes to get us there.

Cry-it-out has never worked for me. My mother loves to tell me how, as a baby, I used to cry for her at night, how she went to the doctor about it, who told her to shut the door and leave me to it. "You gave up crying in the end" she says proudly "And slept like a baby."

An abandoned one.

I just can't do it. The sound of my girls crying drags me up the stairs against my will. I can't not go to them. The husband is just as weak. He is hot on my tail with drinks, favourite teddies, Charlie cloths and Nelsons Teether sachets.

Stopping drinks before bedtime is an impossibility in our house. I sincerely hope my kids curb their enthusiasm of downing a pint so quickly before they hit their teens. To deny them a drink seems positively cruel.

I know too, that by giving them a bottle in the night, we may be programming their little bodies to need a bottle in the night - but if we give them a bottle... they go to sleep again!
Tommee Tippee is our friend. If we'd had a son, I may well have named him after the genius bringing of sleep. I may make an arty statue out of the old bottles one day, in homage to him (If we ever ever stop using them that is).

As for the co-sleeping issue... We've just ordered a Super King Size bed, so when they five of us are all in together, we might have a fraction more space to thrash about and punch one another in. I think that shows our attitude to co-sleeping. If it means we get some sleep, we are all for it. We bought the Bednest beside sleeping cot for the baby so she could feel in bed with us too.

So addicted to sleep are we, we will even wedge ourselves into a toddler bed to get some. I've even been known to nod off sat inside a travel cot. I don't care. I'm not ashamed. I love sleep!

I don't want to hunch over a bed or cot, trying to soothe someone else to sleep. I lead by example. I get right on in the bed/cot too and give them them a real life demonstration on how to nod off.

Over the years, lovely, (in case they read this) well-meaning friends have started many sleep related conversations with "What you two need to do is... " and proceeded to give us unwanted, unsolicited advice which we have no intention of following.

We've tried, tested, and failed it all.

If anyone ever asks my advice on sleeping (The scary dark circles under my eyes make this a rare occurrence), I tell them to do whatever works for them.

And this is what I tell myself....

My children will all sleep through the night at some point.
One day they will realise they are not farm animals who need to wake us at dawn. 
We will need an alarm clock in our lives again one day.
The ongoing game of musical beds we started all those years ago will end one day
I am going to "Oversleep" again.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My summer "holidays"

So we are week six into the summer "holidays" and we still have another three weeks to go (Four does not start school till 18th September as they phase younger ones in first. Thanks school system, you big AGEISTS.)

I am not sure why it's called a holiday.. It's more like a sick experiment to push the very limits of my sanity. In the last three weeks Ten-months has started walking and Two has decided it's time to stop wearing nappies.

I am not good at toilet training. Having honed my body to function like a camel (saves time).. I rarely need to wee. My kids are not like camels however. They are more like teapots. Tip them up and it all pours out.

If I am not asking Two if she needs a wee, cleaning up a wee, wringing out wet knickers or lifting Ten-months out of a puddle of wee.... I'm watching for poo time. I know it's coming.. Two knows it's coming, but she wants to sneak off and do it in her pants. My little toerag has mastered the art of silent, calm-faced straining.

Needless to say she is not the only one "going potty"

Yesterday I took them out to lunch in a cafe. It was only 2pm. I did not know to look out for the 5pm poo. I thought it was a croissant on the floor till I looked closer. I had to clamp one hand over Four's mouth to silence her "LOOK MUM, SHE JUST POOED ON THE FLOOR" and grab the (surprisingly hot) poo in a (thin) napkin with the other (before Ten-months stomped on it).

Sound like a holiday yet?

Let's add in the fact that Four stopped doing anything I asked about five weeks ago. She only responds to my exorcist impression, and even that is with much eye-rolling.

I know she is listening to what I am saying though because I hear her screeching "PACK IT IN. DO AS YOU'RE TOLD. I AM IN CHARGE, NOT YOU, ARE YOU TRYING TO SEND ME INSANE?!" to her sisters.. whilst holding them in a headlock (that bit is nothing to do with me... honest)

In the park today, my friend was getting tearful about her little one starting school soon. I started welling up too... till I realised hers were tears of sadness, not joy like mine.

I am sure other mums will frown upon the unbridled, exuberant happy dance I'll be doing back to the car after dropping Four off at school (snazzy side-heel taps included), but I'll be too high on my freedom to care.

My husband is equally excited as he has begun to fear coming home. He knows he'll only get it in the ear about his "easy" day at work.

He argues that commuting to London in the middle of summer, trapped on the underground, under someones sweaty armpit, in a sweaty suit is hardly a holiday. I snort derisively.

"Did you have to pick a warm poo up off the floor?"
"Well, no"
"Did you have to walk round with one in your briefcase as there was no bin near you?"
"Again, no"
"Did you have to clean poo from in between your toes where you slipped on it, and rode it across the floor?"
"Well then. I'd say your day was pretty great. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off upstairs to rock back and forth in a dark room. Ideally one with no poo in it."