My next post was going to be about me, not my kids, not any kid in particular. I had decided. The whole ridiculous part of my brain that maintains that I should be blogging “properly” has been negotiated with and I/we have reached a compromise where I can do a relatively guilt free “Moan about my kids post” not more than once every other post.
Tonight I am shattered. We had a week away. Mainly good. Mainly busy. Not enough sleep all round. Today we travelled back. In as chilled out a fashion as week could muster. Everyone was tired. Kids were floppy.
We made it home. The boy and I went and got fish and chips for tea (or more accurately fish/sausage/veggie sausage/spring roll and chips/prawn crakers for tea) which gave him chance to run and jump off some of the pent up energy from being on a train. After tea we patiently let him faff around serving pudding (20 mins plus to dole out 4 individual bakewell tarts from a packet, seriously?!) and headed off the screams of his sister after he covered all of them in yoghurt without asking her (by letting her have the two left overs in the packet and him have 2 yoghurt covered ones).
Then we started our bedtime routine, a little later than it should be but earlier than we’ve been managing this week. A long bath for her whilst he faffed some more. A bath for him. Stories. An extra story as he’d missed at least one with his faffing. Into beds. Cuddles, a song for him, lights off, cd on and with a “Night night, see you in the morning” parting shot the remaining parent retreats. For some reason I thought that this thorough, yet fairly relaxed routine, combined with his clear tiredness, would work. I planned to do a little unpacking/sorting, plant his book at the bottom of his bed for him to find in the morning (thereby potentially getting me an extra 20 mins peace) and then go to bed early. Why oh why did I think that Tired Child + Thorough Bedtime Routine would result in Sleeping Child?
Of course it resulted in complainining, whining, argumentative, repeatedly getting out of bed, child. A child who messes about when you’re reasonable with him and shouts when you’re firm with him and gets out of bed the moment you walk away.
And my tiredness, combined with weeks of this merry dance, all caught up with me and I transformed into Wearwolf Mama big style. I shouted, I threatened, I berated. And of course all it did was wind him up further and make poor little sister lying quietly in her bed meekly ask me to tone it down as she was getting a headache.
And then I came downstairs and cried my eyes out. I felt like I was mourning the lost hours from the past couple of months. The hours repeatedly trying to put him back into bed. The hours not being able to concentrate on anything as you are waiting for his next move lost. The hours of kid free sorting out lost. The hours of communicating with husband lost. The hours of my wind down time lost. The hours of my sleep lost as once again I don’t contemplate bed until 11.30pm as I’ve been so busy and then I’m too wound up to sleep. The resultant slippage in the general household demeanour.
Hubby was doing a stonking job at being calm and reasonable. With me and with him. Although even he eventually lost his temper with the boy, albeit less dramatically.
But I wasn’t in the mood for realising my priorities or calming down. I just wanted to sit with my months of frustration, acknowledge it, be with it, I wasn’t ready for more than that. But I couldn’t even do that as all the Helpful Advice people keep giving me kept coming into my head. “Have you tried a reward chart?” “You just need to be firm with him” “Don’t feed him sugary/processed food” “Make sure bedtime is at least 2 hours after he’s eaten” “Have a bedtime routine” “Explain to him why sleep is important”. So now my brain starts regurgitating this unwanted advice on it’s own. And then I feel the need, against my better judgement, to double/triple/n-tuple check that I’ve tried it all (or have a valid reason for not trying it) as what would be worse than Unwanted Advice would be Really Helpful Advice That I Ignored Because I Dismissed it as Unwanted. So then my head is going round in circles again double checking what I do against all the possible things that maybe I should do and searching for the Amazingly Simple Overlooked Thing That I’m Not Doing That Would Solve All My Problems. All this whilst hubby is still putting him back in bed. Again.
Then I turn to the internet and search for Asperger’s Sleep Problems, because, hey the GP’s preferred course of action is treating him as if he has Aspergers and seeing if that works as it can’t hurt. Mistake. As the search basically throws up Mainly Stuff I’ve Tried + Feelings of Inevitability About the Problem + Suggestion to Keep a Sleep Diary – as at least you’ll be able to prove to “them” that when you say your only getting 2 hours sleep a night you’re not exaggerating.
Bitchface loved that last one. I am getting way more than 2 hours sleep a night. I probably get 5 – 7 hours. So How the Hell Can I Complain When There Are People Out There With Real Problems? I just need to get a bit more orgainised, roll my sleeves up and get on with it. Clearly. The fact that I feel that I’m not even treading water with all this disruption but starting to move backwards is nothing. I’m just a big flake.
So, here I once again. Stuck in the Middle. In the Blue Corner, People With “Normal” Lives Whose Kids Go To Bed. In the Red Corner, People with Real Problems and Kids whose Never Sleep. And in the middle, me. Neither. With a kid who drives me nuts but still lets me get nearly enough sleep. Not “Good” enough to not be a problem, but not “Bad” enough to count as a real problem, meaning that it must be My Fault Entirely (not sure why hubby gets to dissolve all responsibility in this “Logic” but seemingly he does).
At the end of the day, now I’m a bit calmer, it’s back to the same old same old. He doesn’t like missing out on anything, he doesn’t want to sleep, he doesn’t want to be left. And no matter how calm/relaxed/gentle your routine, there comes to a point where he has to do his bit and actually try to lie quietly in his bed. I know this is what is needed, as when he does finally lie in his bed without making noise/sitting up/ getting out for 5-10 mins he almost invariably falls asleep. Talking him through relaxation techniques can work, occasionally, but more often than not they are resisted. And if he’s not left alone in bed, then he has an audience and he doesn’t sleep as he feels the need to keep performing. And if he is left alone and doesn’t want to be in bed he doesn’t stay there. And we consistently find in life in general that consequences need to be immediate to be effective (which is why we’ve never got a reward chart to work, once, ever, admittedly we’ve never tried it for sleep, but we have tried it for other things). Which leads to the conundrum “What is an immediate consequence for not staying quiet in bed which does not involve any attention from an adult”, because once he’s in that mood, any kind of attention is sought.
No, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. I don’t actually want to know the answer. I just want to wallow in self pity at how rubbish I feel. Or I did. Now I’ve written it all out, all I want to do is move on, stop thinking about this, so I can wind down myself and try and get enough sleep so that by bedtime tomorrow I might actually be in a state to deal with it calmly.