Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Parent"dox: Tag Team Sleeping

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #13: Tag Team Sleeping

It is no big secret that my kids are not the very best sleepers in town.  Or our neighborhood.  Or even our house for that matter.  

This is nothing new for me.  They weren't great sleepers as newborns or infants or toddlers.  

What is new, however, is this tag team approach to sleeping they have developed.

What is tag team sleeping you ask?  (You may have this very phenomenon occurring in your own household.  I really hope you don't, but read may recognize some of these traits.)  Tag team sleeping is when two or more children take turns waking up in the night on different nights throughout the week.  They are skilled organizers who coordinate who will wake up on any given night to ensure the adults in the house never actually get a full night's sleep.  

Tag Team Sleeping Monday Morning Staff Meeting
I totally picture my children mapping our their week on Monday morning, much like a staff office meeting.  They each pull out their calendars over a sippy cup of juice and a bowl of yogurt.  I think the conversation probably goes something like this:

"Yeah, tonight is good for me.  I don't have preschool, so I'll probably be pretty rested and be able to handle at least one good middle of the night coughing fit.  But Wednesday is gonna be tough.  I've got soccer that night, so I'll probably be pretty whooped.  I think I may actually sleep pretty sound all night long.  Can you pick up my Wednesday?"

"I can swing that.  I can probably do two or three night terror mini episodes that night.  I'll be so tired from Wednesday, that can spill into more night terrors on Thursday and Friday, too.  But if I take those 3 nights in a row, I'm gonna need you to handle Tuesday."

"Done.  I usually get thirsty on Tuesdays.  I'll just turn my light on in the middle of the night that shines right into Mom and Dad's room while I read some books.  But then the weekend is all you."

"Hmm...I may have to get back to you on that.  I do like to nap on Friday afternoons.  Maybe I can do a nap, then just arrange for an 11:00pm bedtime.  That should work.  But then Saturday is gonna be tough.  Can we meet in the middle on Saturday?  What if we both take Saturday?"

"Nice.  I like that.  A good double up to end the week sounds great.  What if you wet the bed and I just stumble into Mom and Dad's room for no real reason?  I'm liking how this week is shaping up.  This may be some of our best work yet."

The "parent"dox is this: I can't catch a break and just have one awful night of sleep with both kids.  If one sleeps through the night, the other is up.  And then it's pretty much guaranteed they'll flip flop and the "sleeper" from that night will become the "waker upper" the next night and vice versa.    

Case in Point: Last Tuesday
For about seven months now, my daughter has been struggling on and off with night terrors.  They have been occurring much more frequently in the last month or so.

[Please note: Night terrors are awful.  AWFUL.  I do not wish them on my worst enemy.  It is a screaming, crying child, who is not awake.  It's pretty much like they are having the most terrible nightmare ever, and they can't wake up.  I take that back.  It's not like that.  It is that.  You can't wake them up, and if you do try, it just makes it worse.  Kind of like how you're not supposed to wake up a sleep walker.  

There is no comforting, no consoling and no cure. 

I feel completely and totally helpless as my daughter screams and cries like one of her limbs is being ripped from her body, only for her to wake up in the morning and proudly report to me "I sleeped all night, Momma!" and have no recollection of whatever was making her so upset.  I've been told it's a phase and something they just eventually grow out of of.  I've also been given a few suggestions to try, but nothing has worked to this point.  I'm still open to ideas, though, so feel free to leave me one if you've got one...]

These night terrors pop up about 5-6 nights a week lately.  There can be anywhere from one to four different episodes throughout the night.  Sometimes they last a few minutes, sometimes almost an hour.  Either way, as soon as I hear her, I'm awake.  As in wide awake.  As in about 3 weeks ago, I started my day at 3:45am because I could not get back to sleep, even though my daughter had cried for about 2 minutes and was already back to dreamland.  

We celebrate the nights she sleeps through the night.  And how do we celebrate?  With joy and thanksgiving.  And also with my son being up in the night.  

On one such "daughter-slept-though-the-night miracle" last week, I awoke in the middle of the night to see a dim light coming from the kitchen.  (Did I mention I'm a super light sleeper ever since having kids?)  I heard footsteps and rustling around.  I rolled over, and sure enough, my husband was sound asleep next to me.  This, of course, made my stomach drop as I assumed he was the one making noise in the kitchen.  My heart started to race, until I heard a familiar voice "Mom?  Mom?  I'm thirsty."  

It was my son.  

I made my way into the kitchen to find him standing in his Spiderman pajamas in front of the warm glow of the refrigerator light.  He looked up at me and asked very matter-of-factly "Can you get me a Capri Sun?" as though there was nothing odd or out of the ordinary about searching the fridge for a beverage at 3:38am.  Yup.  3:38am.  He requested getting the straw into his Capri Sun (no small task in the dark at 3:38am), gulped the juice pouch down while we sat in a chair in the living room, and then headed back to bed.  This did not result it any bed wetting later in the night, so I did have that going for me.

Of course, this early morning juice run did occur on the rare occasion that my daughter slept through the night.  Not a night where I was already laying awake in bed after hearing my daughter cry.  Nope.  A night I was sleeping soundly and enjoying every second I could.  And why did it happen that way?  Their Monday morning staff meeting.  I am totally convinced of it.  

Tag team sleepers.  That's my kids.  It's just who they are.  

(Here's the most amazingly "parent"doxical part of it all:  I am still head over heels in love with both of them.)

I'm hoping I'll get some sleep around 2023 or so.  Or when we put a mini-fridge in my son's room.  Or when I can intercept their Monday Morning staff meetings.  I'll keep you posted.

Even when you're tired...  Even when your kids aren't sleeping...  Even when your kids join forces against you...  Fear not:  You Are a Good Mom.

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