Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Toddler bedtimes, moonlit cramps and Rhesus Monkies

I used to brag about how, from the age of 2.5 months, my little boy would sleep for 12 hours through the night. To be fair I would put it down to his sheer size (he was 9lb 2oz at birth) and he could hold a large belly-full to sustain him all night. As far as new parents go, we had it pretty good.

Something happened when he hit 18 months. It was like a time-bomb had gone off and he decided that not only would he refuse to go to sleep but he would wake up like clock work at 3am and demand he sleep in Mummy's bed.

Now, as bad habits go, the habits at bedtime have to be the most important to get right because failing in that department means sleep deprivation for all parties involved for months if not years. For parents this means poor work performance, deliriousness, strained relationships, communicating in a series of short and long grunts like a kind of sleep-deprived Morse Code and worst of all, unsightly black bags under the eyes.

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For the child/ren it means poor development, moodiness, strops and tantrums. Now this is very much a chicken and egg scenario because my son's behaviour morphed into that of a small Rhesus Monkey at pretty much the same time as the sleep troubles started.  The question to ask is did he suddenly realise that maybe he is missing out when he goes to bed or did his tiredness drive him down a slippery slope to act up at any available moment?

On a bad night I can still be loosing a battle to get him to bed at 11.30pm! I've tried leaving him (he gets out of bed), sitting with him (he gets out of bed), sitting in the doorway and creeping out inch by inch (but when he realises he can no longer see me he gets out of bed). The only thing that seems to work consistently is lying down with him and pretending to be asleep myself. I have woken up many-a-time at 10.30pm with a crick in my neck after dozing off beside him!

Seven months of having to do this pretty much on a daily basis has really taken it's toll. Eight times out of ten he will still find some excuse to get out of bed again before going to sleep. His favourite is saying he needs a poo because he knows I won't question it! My days of cleaning that off the sheets are hopefully behind me (no pun intended).

Tonight he managed to drop off at 8.20pm. There was the usual fuss of needing the toilet three times before settling, wanting to put his hat on, kicking his covers off and loosing his comforter, Douggie. He puts Douggie over his face and I then have to listen to his breathing to steady and become deeper (sometimes he snores). Tonight when he had fell asleep I was pretty thrilled considering the time and, as you can imagine, I crept out of his bed as slowly as possible, holding my breath so as not to wake him.

Now, I went for a run straight after work today and my muscles in my legs and bum are still pretty battered from the weekend's exercising. I twisted my leg in an attempt to make my stealthy escape from his bed and an almighty bought of cramp set in on the back of my left thigh. I stood there, one leg still up on the bed in a funny position, teetering over him, mouth wide, silently screaming!! I couldn't move from the pain. All I could do is hover there and try to stop myself from falling on top of him. After about 30 seconds of rubbing said muscle I successfully limped away. Despite the agony, as bedtimes go I would still say that was a rather successful one.

One point to Team Mum; nil to Team Toddler.


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