Friday, September 9, 2016

Send In the Sandman

I can't seem to make up my mind...

At 7:30 tonight I decided I was done mothering for the day. Anyone else have those moments? When you're just "done", and try to find somewhere to hide until the kids' bedtime?

Thankfully, Luke had dragged Jay into building elaborate Lego creations and I managed to convince Kate that her sisters were having "extra special girl time" with "music and everything". (I really had no idea what "everything" was. It just made it sound better!) Kate went running to knock on their door and ended up with a mani/pedi and a game of Chutes and Ladders. (Truth be told, she asked me to play the game before the girl time, but I stalled to change into my pj's, heard the music coming from the girls' room, and tricked convinced Kate that sister time is way more exciting than hanging out with mom. Ahh...lazy mom 101 at its best!)

So I parked myself on the couch and ignored the Star Wars ships being flown around the living room by Luke and Jay and waited for bed time. I even ignored the "light saber battle" with pillows that ensued because Jay gets way too silly!(That's why the kids always want to play with him!)

The magical hour of bedtime finally arrived! Teeth were brushed, the potty was used, water cups were filled and kids were tucked into bed. Twenty minutes later, I heard Luke's voice call from the bedroom, "Mom, I can't sleep." (I'm thinking that a rousing battle of pillow "light sabers" was a poor choice on Jay's part right before bed!)

Though Jay might be the "fun parent", I'm the "nice parent".(Jay would call it soft.) As I called to Luke that he could come out with us for five minutes, Jay's voice overpowered mine and said, "No, stay in bed." Then, we compromised and told Luke he could read in his bed for 10 minutes.

As Jay and I sat together on the couch watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, (his current obsession), my heart shifted a bit.  Instead of relishing in this "little kid" free time...all our teen and young adult children were all milling about...I found myself missing Luke and wishing we had let him get out of bed. Luke is my snuggle buddy!

Having birthed 9 children over the last 23 years has given me lots of experience in many different areas of parenting. One area that I have failed at miserably with several different children is independent sleeping. I admit's because I'm the "soft" parent! I'm always worried about making sure my kids feel loved, and that spills over into helping them get/stay asleep.

When our oldest, Mike, was a toddler, I tried to do the textbook bedtime routine. Bath time was followed by some quiet snuggle time and then we would read a couple of books in his bed. I would get close to the end of a book and he would grab the book, close it, and immediately grab another one, (that I intended to read anyway), thinking it would push off bedtime just a little bit longer! I would often lay with him and he would twirl my hair until he fell asleep.

Funny story: One night, when I was VERY pregnant with our second son, Andrew, I was trapped between a sleeping Mike and the child bed rail. I couldn't roll off and I couldn't just sit up because of my enormous belly. I started trying to rock to get enough momentum to sit up....I was totally like a turtle stuck on it's back!  It took a couple of minutes to finally free myself! When I turned to leave the room I found Jay laughing at me in the doorway! He watched the whole thing and just let me struggle! He got my "angry eyes" that night!

Fast forward a couple of years and we had 3 little boys. Jon would fall asleep on the couch most nights watching Blue's Clues during our night time routine. Mike still liked me to lay with him. I felt guilty that Andrew was laying alone even though he was younger than Mike. So, sometimes I would get Jay to lay down with him...even though Andrew didn't necessarily want him there! Oh, the joys of mom guilt!

Fast forward another couple of years. After losing our first daughter, Therese, our hearts were starting to heal with the addition of baby Sarah to our family. We lived in a 2 bedroom house, so a few months after Sarah was born we added on an extra bedroom and bathroom. Sarah was actually a pretty good sleeper, and she moved into her new bedroom when she was about 6 months old. Jay and I would go to bed some nights...umm, might have been most nights...and I would be missing her! I was hoping she would wake up and want to nurse so I could bring her into our bed. After several comments to Jay about missing the baby, he would go to her room, pick up a sleeping Sarah, and bring her into our bed. (I know, most of you are shaking your heads! I couldn't help myself!)
A sleeping baby Sarah!

I'd like to say that with experience I became a better sleep trainer of children.  Unfortunately, although my desire to have my babies and toddlers sleep became stronger as more of them arrived, the only one that actually complied was Ellie!  To be fair, Peter's struggle with sleep was not my fault....undetected food allergies and a sleep disorder due to Autism made night time a nightmare for many, many years.  I'm so grateful that he eventually grew out of it...although it took about 12 years!

Luke was an extra needy baby and toddler and it took many years to get him to sleep all night long independently.(We finally resorted to bribery...if he slept in his own bed all night for 3 weeks then he could pick out a medium size Lego set!)  Kate wasn't quite as bad as Luke, but there are still many nights that she wakes up scared and wants me to snuggle with her. (And it's much harder to sleep on 6 inches of bed as a 42 year old! My sore shoulders, sore hips, and knots in my back that Jay has to massage out are signs I'm getting too old for this! Although, snuggling with Kate is way easier than climbing into Luke's upper bunk in the middle of the night...thankfully, that's a very infrequent occurrence!)

So, if family members or friends ask my advice about teaching kids to sleep independently, I honestly tell them I don't have any great advice to give. I can tell them a few things NOT to do if they don't want kids in their bed for, well, years! Then I refer them to my friend, Colleen, who is the sleep master!

I AM making progress, though! You will all be happy to know that I did not have Jay go get a sleeping Luke out of his bed! And it's not just because Jay fell asleep on the couch before Luke! There's hope for me, yet!

.....Luke's way too heavy to try and lug out of the top bunk, anyway!

Just kidding!;)