I must’ve blocked the challenging parts of this 2-3 age with the Big Kid because I was so focused on Baby Bear Shark. We weren’t sleeping then anyway, but it’s different with a newborn who can be nursed back to sleep. These days, we’re dealing with negotiation, refusal, ignoring requests, being scared of the dark and working themselves into such a tizzy that they can’t catch their breath. The no sleep thing is amplified when both are fighting it.
I have no control over how much sleep I get at night. That was a hard pill to swallow, entering into parenthood. I’ve crashed at 8 along with the kids, but sleep is too choppy to feel functional the next day. I’ve been on this up and down cycle of coffee and melatonin to survive. This can’t be healthy.
We’ve moved their bedtime up to get ahead of the meltdown (and daylight savings has helped a little on the front end but not so much with staying asleep or sleeping past… gulp… 5:30), and we’ve gotten more rigid about bedtime routine. The chore chart I created has helped the Big Kid a lot to set expectations of behavior as well as a reward system. I haven’t quite figured out what motivates Bear Shark though.
The husband and I have to tag in and out. We’re out of energy and patience for the day. We’re trying different strategies and tactics. We’re bribing them. We’re threatening them. We’re ignoring them. We split them up. We let them sleep together. Music. No music. Night lights. No lights. Wake up clock. For F’s sake, getting kids to sleep is pure torture.
The other stuff is easier to handle. Hitting and biting? We can talk about appropriate behavior. Not sharing toys? We can implement a fair system or redirect attention to another toy. Begging for TV time? We can let them “earn” time as a reward. But sleep refusal? SHOOT ME.
This has to be a phase, right? I don’t know how long the phase will last, but my mom told me that I didn’t figure out the sleep thing consistently until I was 5. Sheesh. Sorry, Mom. Maybe this is karma coming back to bite me in the ass.
Three things are keeping me from wanting to throw my kids away at night.
- Not always so. Everything in life is in transition, and this will change too. I need to hold on to the impermanence of life. I use this as a mantra.
- Compassion. Instead of getting mad at them, I’m trying to show them more patience, love and compassion. (Fake it til you make it is also a great way to change my own attitude!) I don’t remember what it’s like to feel scared of the dark, but I can try and come from a place of understanding instead of anger.
- Calm, cooling breaths. I do these with my kids for both our benefits. When they’re wigging out mid-tantrum, we work on taking deep breaths together and then blowing them out. I mentioned the trick of blowing out candles to get them to take a bigger breath. Lately, we’ve been having blowing wars at each other’s face. That seems to work better with the little one.
Of course, when it seems all is lost and the tantrums seem to hit a point of no return, sometimes they just crash. We deal with the aftermath of getting off schedule, but for a few quiet moments, we have to enjoy the calm.