Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sleeping distress

I like sleep.  In fact, I would say that I love sleep. I have wholeheartedly bought into certain sleep concepts including:
"It's the night before the night before that makes a difference in your day."
"The hours of sleep you get before midnight are the ones that really count." 
"Uninterrupted sleep is necessary for optimum health and happiness."

So it stresses me out to no end that uninterrupted sleep is a rare occurrence at our house. Before Mike and I had children, when we still believed in the tooth fairy and other such myths such as children sleeping through the night, we would hear the neighbors 3-year-old crying in the night and wonder why his parents didn't teach him properly.  Once our children were past 11 pounds and physically able to sleep through the night, they would.

HAHAHAHAHA.  A few months ago, right about the time that Ellie started sleeping through the night, Hannah stopped sleeping through the night. The three-year-old not sleeping through the night started in September. And now it is March. (voice breaking, hands trembling) The end of March.

Three to four mornings a week, Hannah cries loudly in my ear at 4 a.m.  I am always pleasant and cheerful at this time in the morning, and I say quietly, "Sweetheart, let me sing you a song and scratch your back to scare away your bad dreams." Not really. It's more like anger and hatred at that time in the morning. And this is a terrible habit that we've got to get rid of. 

Below is a list of what we've tried. We try to be consistent for a week or two before we switch it up. (Switch it up=throw our hands in the air and swear to not have anymore children/make them sleep locked in the garage.) We want to break her of this habit. I want this habit gone more than I want a free lifetime supply of books and chocolate.

FAILED Attempts at Getting Hannah to Stay in Bed
1. "Did you have a bad dream? I'm sorry." And walking her back to bed. FAIL
2. Saying nothing. Pointing like silent death at the doorway. FAIL
3. "Hannah, go back to bed." FAIL
4. Locking our door. FAIL
5. Taking away a toy every time she leaves her bed. FAIL
6. Saying a prayer with her and tucking her back in. FAIL
7. Threatening death or other tortures if she doesn't stay in bed. FAIL
8. No food after 7:30 p.m. FAIL
9. Magic mush.  This technique was shared by my friend, Sallie. She used it to get her kids in bed at night.. I thought I could try it for when they get out of bed.
So here's my version: If they get out of bed during the night the next morning I make them a bowl of magic mush (oatmeal with nothing in it).  Here's how that goes over with Hannah, "I won't eat it! I will spill it all oveh!"  "Fine," I say. "There will be no food until lunch."  Then she asks me all morning when lunch will be. She lays around on her pillow and sucks her thumb all morning. Her tummy hurts. Everything is a fight. The morning is miserable. I am miserable.  I stress out because she's not eating and miserable and unhappy.  And so am I! FAIL 

I've stuck with magic mush for about 7-9 incidents over the past three weeks, in an effort to remain consistent. Until this conversation,
Hannah wakes up and says to me, "Mommy did I get up last night?"
"No sweetie! Good job! You didn't. You can choose what you want for breakfast."
Visible relief: "Phew!"
Oh yeah, Mother of the Year. Right here.  My child doesn't even know she's waking up at night and I'm punishing her. Awesome. (Or some part of me thinks, "My gosh, this child is a master at manipulating me.)

So here's where we're currently at:
I've given up on magic mush for when she wakes up in the middle of the night (if she gets out of bed when we tuck her in, it's still on). I'm just going to let her crawl into bed with me. I know this is probably making it worse. I know that I am enforcing a bad habit. I know I am setting her up for failure in college with this one small act, and she will probably end up dealing drugs because of my bad parenting skills.  I know! I know!
But people, I'm in survival mode. I've got to assuage my guilt at making her cry by her lonely self at three a.m. because I was sure that would solve it. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Other than that, things are great around here.


charbetrichey said...

You now what the scriptures say, "It came to pass", not "it came to stay." This will pass, I promise. I feel for you because I remember those days and my girls weren't three.

Tobi said...

My five year old was having nightmares three and four times a week. All I wanted was sleep. I just gave in and let her sleep with me. After 6 months of being woken up by her high pitched screeches I took her to Target and I let her pick out her very own night light. She chose Tinkerbell. It helped right away and therefore was worth the $12.00 I paid for it. We all get to sleep through the night now. It's a beautiful thing.

joyce said...

My oldest son had this same problem. Eventually, I let him sleep on my floor. He'd go and get his blanket and pillow and I'd "tuck him in." It didn't take long before he stopped trying to get in my bed. It was hard though, because sometimes he was really sneaky and quiet and before I knew it, I would wake up with a hot body plastered to my back. I had to make sure I woke up all the way and take him back to bed. If he threw a fit, or had a bad dream, THEN he could sleep on the floor.

Sherrie said...

Oh, man. We use 200 mcg Meletonin, but really I don't think we've ever had it that bad. Maybe because those brain cells are gone??? Yeah, when Jennie turned 3, we got a kitten instead of another baby. Our kitten doesn't cry.