DD has been in bed, asleep, by 9:15 every night this week, and sometimes even earlier. She wakes early, sometimes before our proscribed wake time of 8 am even. This is a child who used to sleep in until 11! She goes to bed without any major hassles and I’m SO enjoying not having two screaming kids running around at midnight!
So now that we have a plan, and it’s working, and we seem to have “fixed” the sleep issues that have been plaguing us for months, I’m left to wonder “How did I let this happen in the first place?”. Or, if I’m being honest, “Am I a shitty mother for letting my kids get so out of control?”.
Much as I love to beat myself up over stuff, I think I can honestly say that I *did* try. The problem was that there were 3 things that needed to happen, and I tried two of them but not together.
I tried instituting a bedtime routine. It did seem to help, and with a lot of work I could bring bedtime down to a reasonable hour, but I wasn’t waking her up so all it took was a morning of sleeping in and then she wouldn’t be tired at bedtime and all the routine-ing in the world couldn’t make her fall asleep when she was truly not tired. It just led to a very grumpy and resentful mama.
I tried waking the kids up early, presuming that they would fall asleep early easily. But of course they wouldn’t because they’d keep each other wired enough that they missed their sleep cues and then got the dreaded “second wind” that pushed bedtime out to the point where they just collapsed from exhaustion at some ungodly late hour.
The third thing from above was making sure DD ate dinner at dinner time so that she wouldn’t suddenly announce at 9 pm that she was starving. The thought had crossed my mind from time to time that I should monitor that more closely but I didn’t quite appreciate how it was contributing to the sleep problems.
And finally, in my defense, none of this was an issue until last summer when DS began staying up late if he’d had a nap that day. Before that time DS was almost always asleep by 8 pm and DD would be quiet if she was up late, reading books or playing on the computer. She generally didn’t bother DH and I who got to enjoy a peaceful evening. But once DS started staying up late the two of them would feed off each other and then it became a big problem.
I don’t regret leaving DD to regulate her own sleep all these years. For most of that time it was not a problem at all. But I confess that, knowing what I do now, I would have institued these things alot earlier with DD. While I enjoy sleeping in as much as the next person, I know that too many days where I’m still in my jammies at noon leads me to mild depression and that’s not good for anybody. Now I’m up early enough to get my day started and not lose half of it, and my evenings are more peaceful.