How can something this cute make me want to move to move to a foreign country, check myself into a psychiatric facility where shock therapy is still the go-to treatment? I need some quiet in my brain!
So here’s the thing: Sadie is officially a nightmare. She’s 22 pounds of attitude who doesn’t sleep. She has no interest in sleeping, no tolerance for the mere suggestion of sleeping and is also disgusted that anyone else in this house would want to do anything so distasteful and bourgeois as putting their head on a pillow and lying still for a few hours. “Don’t sleep, mommy!” Sadie’s been known to scream at me if I dare rest my head on the couch cushion -while sitting up I might add. I don’t have the balls to actually lay on the couch in front of her, but I need to grow a pair so I can start standing up to her.
Last night was one of the worst Jon and I have had in a long time. Sadie’s been getting worse and worse about sleeping lately. The last few days neither twins would take any sort of nap so of course by four in the afternoon they are wrecks but yesterday morning they woke up at 7 am, refused to nap, and began the whining and crying out of exhaustion around 4 pm. We’d been to the park in the morning and then swimming at my brother’s house in the afternoon and when we got back they seemed so tired. After a quick bath and stories they were in bed by 7:40 and that’s when Sadie began a two hour screamfest. Well, first she demanded milk and not in a pink sippy cup, in an ORANGE one, asshole! Then the crib was lowered on one side so that she could climb in because she NEEDS TO DO IT HERSELF. Then she spilled some milk on her jammies so SHE NEEDED NEW ONES. And then the lights were lowered -but not too low because THAT’S TOO DARK and music was turned on NOT JAMES TAYLOR and then finally I got a “Night night mama.” The door was quietly closed behind me BUT NOT ALL THE WAY and I tiptoed down the hall and then the screaming started.
WHY? I don’t get it. She’s tired. I’m tired. Mattie’s tired. Elby needs our attention. And yet, screaming. Blood curdling, want to slice your ears off with a paring knife, screaming.
Nothing is wrong with her. She is willful and doesn’t want to go to bed. How do I know this? Because she yells, “I DON’T WANNA GO TO BED!” OVER AND OVER AND OVER BETWEEN SCREAMS. So what are we to do? We have tried letting it go for hours. It used to only last twenty minutes but her endurance has been building. Last night she screamed for two straight hours while Jon and I cursed our lives, Jon had a vodka and I played Brick Buster wordlessly on my BlackBerry. Every so often we wondered how long it could go on, would she be able to scream all night? Would Matilda sleep through it? What were the adoption laws pertaining to two-year-olds with behavioral problems? I hear the Duggars are looking to have one more -maybe Michelle just wants ours?
This was clearly a battle of wills and I was not going to allow her to think that if she just screamed long enough we would eventually let her come out because she NEEDED SLEEP! She’s now been awake for 15 straight hours and so had we and this needed to stop.
Finally she stopped screaming and we realized our patience had paid off. I’m fucking with you. She continued yelling for over two hours until Matilda started screaming as well and we had to remove Matilda from the room which is how we realized that Sadie was butt naked in a stripped bed and Matilda was in no state to go back to sleep either. We brought both girls out of the room where Sadie continued to cry and act like SHE’D been traumatized.
ONE AM is when both twins were finally asleep in their cribs. WHAT THE FUCK? And this is not highly unusual. Sadie is pretty extreme I know. Her therapists know this too and want to try to get us a little help with her – some coping skills etc. She is a firecracker, stubborn, and bright as hell. She’s always been like this possibly because as a little baby she was frustrated and unhappy (who can blame her?) but now she is able to communicate just fine and we need to establish boundaries. How do we do that without having to completely drop out of society, rent an bus and go find a cabin somewhere that Sadie can eat berries and scream to her heart’s content. Maybe in the woods people will think we’re just part of some sort of “let your inner wild child out” type religion or that Sadie’s a witch.
Any words of wisdom? Do you have a kid like this? Will she grow out of this phase? I’m soooo tired.
Kristy Cato said,
LOL DO YOU GET BACK UP ONCE SHE’S ASLEEP?
Um, do you have my child? Because I ALSO have a 22-lb daughter the same age who is doing the EXACT SAME THING right now. It is driving me CRAZY. Her twin brother sleeps, but she does not. Will not. It’s like it’s a deliberate act of will for her to stay up, no matter how obviously exhausted. She’ll spend her naptime totally awake and talking the whole time in her crib, and then be exhausted by bedtime, only to deliberately refuse to go to sleep.
Latest antics also include stripping and now, heaven help me, scaling the crib. What am I going to do when she figures out how to escape?!?
Family bed doesn’t work for her, either — if she is in bed with us, it’s as if she’s physically unable to fall asleep. She has never once fallen asleep in bed with us, despite many attempts. She can only do it alone, for some reason, but won’t…auugh!
I think she actually gets herself worked up into a bizarre state of insomnia. I’ve watched her toss and turn and just appear to be unable to relax and go to sleep. I am the same way as an adult, so I can sort of relate, but honestly it’s driving us nuts.
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My daughter *still* yells at me not to sleep if I even close my eyes during the day. She is disturbed when I nap and can never resist waking me up. (After acting spineless for the first three years I finally insisted that she learn to accept that mama does sometimes have to nap. But I never seem to get more than 15 minutes in.)
She wouldn’t go to sleep on her own. We tried everything, but in the end I had to be there in the room. I read blogs on the floor of her room and told her I wouldn’t stay unless she went to sleep. It still took forever, but less than if I left and no screaming. I think she was four when I finally could teach her how to fall asleep without me in the room.
It is exhausting. I wish I had an easy solution for you. Just keep trying things, and breathe, and remember this isn’t forever. It just feels like it. 😉
K´s last blog post ..A Long Week
Go get Making the Terrible Twos Terrific by John Rosemond. You might need to do the half door trick he talks about. Changed my way of thinking and gave me confidence. Its not a tell all by any means but does give ideas and basics on this crazy thing we call parenting!
I feel for you – I really do. My 18 month old has never yet slept through the night (the longest he’s ever managed was until 3am). Normally he wakes at around 11pm then every hour on the hour unless we take him into bed with us. I am still breast feeding him at night on demand but that’s a whole other issue! Anyway I digress, I have had a breakthrough recently in getting him to go to sleep in the first place so I’ll pass along the things that worked for me plus a few other ideas in case they are useful to you:
1) start preparing the ground early, be really boring and structured about your bedtime routine and work the topic of bedtime into the conversation from early afternoon so when the time comes it does not come as a nasty surprise – ie ‘ok guys we are going to the park this afternoon and when we come back we will have tea then we’ll have a bath and get ready for bed. then later.. ok guys we are going to have tea now, then we’ll have a bath, then bed etc etc.
2) keep things really low key for the 30 minutes or so before bed – have a ritual of winding down, reading a book together, listening to quiet music, having a cuddle etc
3) use black out blinds to make the room nice and dark, use night lights and light projectors if they help
4) reward good sleeping behaviour – ‘maybe the sleep fairy will leave a gift if you go off to sleep nicely’ – if she’s not too young, use a star chart to record good behaviour
5) Discuss with the girls how sleep is a good thing – it helps us grow, we can have lovely dreams and do cool stuff in them – what shall we dream tonight etc…
6) lie down beside the cot if needs be …. I bore my toddler to sleep by lying down next to him and repeating the rhyme from ‘In the Night Garden’ over and over in a soporific voice.. Round and Round a little boat no bigger than your hand out on the ocean far away from land etc etc…… he normally lasts about 4 rounds before his eyes start to close.
Aimee Greeblemonkey said,
You do what you gotta do. Post like this make me feel soooo lucky that Declan was a champion sleeper. Hugs, girl.
She’s TOO tired to sleep. Sounds weird, but it’s true. I have 14 month old twins and I know damn well they can sleep through the other one crying… but I have noticed that when I keep them up too long, or through one of their normal nap times, they don’t sleep as well later. Sounds counter-intuitive but it works. If you reaalllly want them to sleep good at night, they gotta be home IN THEIR OWN BED during nap time. Period. Sucks for you, Jon, and Elby- so much for away-from-home fun!
Claire - Matching Pegs said,
She sounds overtired to me too – darn hard cycle to break though.
Can you put Sadie in a room on her own, and your other two in together, at least while Sadie is going through this stage?
A very consistent bedtime routine is going to help, but I have to say (having had 3 very different kids) that some kids are much more work with sleeping than others.
One of my kids never slept and got overtired very easy, so our days had to be very, very routine – which the other mothers in my mothers group did not understand – they had kids that were better sleepers, and could handle a mixed up routine and big days out.
My other two children gave me a taste of what easier sleepers are like – my son is a champion sleeper and has been from day one. If I had not had both side of the coin, I would have doubted myself so much more – a kid that never sleeps tries your sanity and make you feel like a bad parent, but it has so much more to do with their innate temperament.
This too shall pass.
Claire – Matching Pegs´s last blog post ..Sewing Party
Sadie sounds like she is in complete control of your household and bullies you and others. Can you just put her in a room without anything in it other than a simple bed and let her scream? She can earn things in the room once you are back in control.
Hang on a hot minute: we’re talking about a toddler here. I agree that what’s happening now isn’t okay, or sustainable for Stefanie’s family. But what you’re suggesting is punitive in a way that’s far too abstract for a kid that age, and besides, punishment isn’t the goal – helping Sadie is.
Stefanie, hang in there. I think continuing to seek a little outside help is a good idea. In the meantime, have you thought about limiting high fructose corn syrup? Doing a visual schedule so she knows what comes next in your day? Picking only the major battles with her and letting natural consequences do the rest, to remove yourself from the power struggles a bit? It’s SO hard to do the whole MAJOR CONSISTENCY thing with twins, I know (I once taught a twos preschool class with TWO SETS of twins in it) because each wants what the other has, responds to different things, winds the other up, &c.
Bottom line: they call it a phase because it passes. And? You’re doing a great job. Be kind to yourself.
No wisdom… we’re there too with Paige. We’re tired. Very very tired….
Hang in there!
Corinne´s last blog post ..Summer night ramble
Try melatonin….my son used to have a lot of trouble falling asleep, and we would put a little melatonin into his apple juice and voila…the sleepies……it didn’t last all night long for him, he would still wake up and come looking for someone to join him in bed….. but it did the trick in getting him to sleep. My doctor was on board with it too, which made me feel better. Eventually he did start to fall asleep on his own, and even started sleeping in his own bed, all night long, this summer (with the help of his TV on mute all night long….yes, I’m a bad mom, but it gets us all through the night!!!! I’m a big believer in whatever works!!! I’m not sure how you would feel about Melatonin, because although it is natural, it’s an artificial aide, and might not be something that you are comfortable with…but I thought I’d throw it out there!
RG Mama said,
Check with your docs about melatonin for her. We’ve been using .25mg of a 1mg liquid melatonin solution for about a year with one of my 4yo twins. She’s on the autism spectrum and girlfriend just doesn’t make enough melatonin on her own. Without it, it takes her about 2 hours to fall asleep on her own. And that’s if she’s trying to fall asleep. Been that way since she was a baby. Come to find out, lots of our friends’ kiddos with issues ranging from ASD to ADHD had been advised by their docs to use melatonin. Who knew. I wish we’d known 3 years ago.
I take melatonin myself, after decades of taking 2+ hours to fall asleep and waking up every half hour or anytime there was a sound in the house. It has been a blessing. It doesn’t leave me groggy like sleep meds, feels totally natural. I take it about 30 minutes before I want to head to bed and I feel naturally tired about 20 mins later and wake up normally. Before I would need 12 hrs of sleep to feel normal from taking so long to fall asleep and waking so much. Definitely talk to your doctor and try it for Sadie.
RG Mama said,
Ah, sorry. Just checking back after reading your latest update. Glad the melatonin is working for your girls! We give it to R at the start of the bedtime routine. She’s usually out w/in 30 min. And I read another poster’s comment about sensory processing issues and OT. I’d like to ‘ditto’ her. If you suspect that there are sensory issues, an OT can be as magical as melatonin. I have to refrain from kissing our OT on the lips, I love her so much. She helped give our entire family balance again. One tiny little kid with SPD can turn the world upside down.
I am going to try this on my daughter and if it works I am going to come back – kiss you and shower you with lottery tickets. Bedtime in our house lasts HOURS and includes screaming, and every yelled insult (by the 4 year old) in the book. She has sensory issues that aren’t too far in vein from ASD’s … yet none of the docs have ever mentioned melatonin.
It’s been four years and I still dread bedtime. Thank you so much to everyone for all of their solutions to what is is that Sadie and, apparently, a lot of our kids are also going though!
my sister started fixing my toddler really strong cups of chamomile tea, just to calm him down. Don’t know that it really worked, but it made her happier!
That said, my baby is also a very strong-willed refusing-to-sleep kid, and I either have to
1) nurse him down and/or
2) let him scream himself to sleep. As in, I explain what is going on, set him down gently, and leave. Thankfully this is an every-other-day occurrence at this point, and we’re down to it just being naptime (usually).
It’s not pleasant, but it works. He’ll actually climb up into my bed, screaming, and snuggle in to the pillows to go to sleep, still screaming. I walk in to check on him and I’m like “wth are you doing in my bed?!” eh, whatever works for him. Fun way to find out he learned how to climb!
He WILL NOT go to sleep with his brother in the room unless it is pitch black AND he cannot physically access his brother. Otherwise he climbs all over him until he gets kicked in the face and then he’s screaming for a whole ‘nother reason. So, while Lynde’s idea does seem punitive, there is something to be said for limiting visual/auditory triggers. Of course, it could be she just has so much going on in her head that she needs to be distracted in order to fall asleep? (I’m guessing based on having music to go to sleep?)
Anyhow, I hope you figure it out soon, but yeah, this is a PHASE, so if nothing works, well, she will eventually figure something out herself.
Well, aside from saying “I feel your pain, I got nothin’. We have one reasonably good sleeper and one non-sleeper. The non-sleeper has been that way literally since Day 1, when she nursed ALL NIGHT LONG in the hospital and screamed nonstop for hours in the nursery the one time I left her for a bit. I’d try the melatonin bit. I’ve been thinking of using it the week before school starts, just to get the girls back into a regular bedtime. I will say that you DO need a stretch of recovery sleep YOURSELF. Do you have a grandparent, relative, or incredibly saint-like friend who can take her overnight for a night or two? My kids are so much better for other people than they are for me, she might even sleep better there and you’d all get a break.
I wish I had some advice, I really don’t. Gio is not as willful as Sadie and while it might take him 2 hours to go to sleep, he’s not screaming the whole time (he’s doing that for 2 hours before we think about bed) but I am just here, as a mom of twins that are 2 and half too…to show support and to stop you from slicing your ears off, you have pretty ears.
Kir´s last blog post ..Yo-hoo- Jamespack my bags- Im headed West!
I agree with the overtired theory. Try separating them at nap time, that’s what i had to do with my twins. good luck!!!!
Julie Weary said,
I don’t have little kids anymore, but I live in the woods. It is peaceful and quiet and we like it that way. Please don’t move….
I second the suggestion to read John Rosemond–he’s got a very common-sense approach that’s stern without being harsh. I had good luck with his methods with my younger (willful & stubborn as a mule) daughter.
I hope you get some sleep soon–that would drive anyone over the edge.
As the mother of only one child, I thought that this was how every 3 year old on the planet behaves at bedtime. Do you mean to tell me that some people have children who GO TO SLEEP??
My daughter did ALL of that at that age (reading about the pajamas and wrong colored sippy cup and the door etc. almost made me cry at the memories of that period. GOD IT’S EXHAUSTING) and I have to tell you, that is when I started reeeaaaallly enjoying a glass of wine or 3 every night. Also? Paxil saved my life. And more importantly, it save my daughter’s life.
I encourage you and your husband to take turns getting away from the crying. There is no point in both of you sitting there fuming. Go for a walk or go sit in the car and listen to This American Life or something to give your mind a break. Then you’ll be better able to face it. And remember, it is just a phase. My daughter, now 9, is a perfect angel. 😉
My main advice is that you ignore any advice that implies the reason Sadie isn’t sleeping is because you’re doing something wrong. *coughLyndecough*
I have a 10 year old who has not slept a full night since he was about two. We have tried everything and then gone back and tried it again but nothing has worked. I’ve gotten plenty of advice and plenty of people have let me know exactly what they think I’m doing wrong. I think though that unless someone has a poor sleeper they just don’t know what it’s really like. Not every kid is wired the same. Not every kid likes to sleep. Not every kid will respond to every method the same way. (Funny thing is, my nearly five year old has been a champion sleeper since she was an infant in spite of the fact that I’m clearly a terrible parent with no idea how to get a child to sleep.)
My only advice is to be kind to yourself, hang in there and try to remember that someday this willful, stubborn streak that Sadie has will serve her will in life. This girl is not going to be anyone’s doormat!
Jen´s last blog post ..Ill probably delete this once I cool off
Does she ever fall asleep in the car? My youngest sister had a hard time falling to sleep so my mom would drive her around until she fell asleep and then would come home and put her in her bed. I realize this isn’t the most cost effective but it may work. If my daughter is tired and we’re in the car, she’ll doze off.
I also have a 2 year old non sleeper. We tried everything under the sun and nothing seemed to work. The melatonin was great for helping her fall asleep but then she was so restless it wasn’t really any better than not sleeping. She has cerebral palsy and our neurologist finally started her on trazodone for sleep. I wasn’t all for using meds but after so many months of not sleeping for more than 1 1/2 hours at a time I was willing to try anything. We moved her bed to the foot of our bed and she sleeps in our room but not in our bed. It works for us (and her) and we are all so much better off now.
Hugs. And empathy.
That is all.
I have two great sleepers and two ‘I’d rather not’ sleepers. We keep a firm nap schedule and have a pre-bedtime ritual that we stick to but … as other posters noted, a lot of this is hardwired in the kids. I’m convinced of it.
Dana´s last blog post ..Canning Party
yeah, yup. been there. the horror! the total horror of sleep deprivation! my balls-to-the wall second daughter ( I have four babes) was/is like that. she is still wicked f*n intense, but she can handle things just a little better now (she’s 7.5 now). what’s my point? not a thing. she is just MORE than other kids. best thing I ever read / or heard about was a book about personality types (can’t remember the name, too little sleep). made me accept and understand her a bit better. she was five and a half before I got to sleep a full night (and her, too). one day it just stopped. she is a sh*t kicking, awesome girl. she rocks, and she’s a pain in the ass, too. I liked the person who suggested the bath/epsom remedy. sounds just right. that’s where I put my firecracker now when she gets wound/cranked/angry at the world. works like a charm.
Oh sweet Pete, you have my sympathy. I never had to do this, so I’m no expert, but this is what my pediatrician recommends and it’s what I would try if I were put to it:
Remove the other family members to another part of the house or even a hotel if you need to. Then you put her to bed and don’t give in NO MATTER WHAT! You go in only if you need to make sure she’s okay. Don’t put her clothes back on, don’t put a new diaper on. If she leaves the room, don’t get angry or discuss it, just put her back in. Do it as many times as you need to. My friend and her husband had to do it thirty or more times one night. But their daughter never tried it again after that.
My pediatrician swears the most time this ever takes is a week and then they know they are defeated and they stop fighting it.
Keep us updated!
P.S. I read through the other comments, and I wanted to add something.
I myself co-sleep with my daughter, who is now two. My daughter ASKS for naps and bed time. And I don’t have to be in bed with her. If I’m not ready, I can put her down awake and she doesn’t cry for me or get out of bed. She likes sleeping. I don’t know if the two things are connected or not, and I don’t care to debate co-sleeping. I’m just saying, I’m no expert on any of what I’m saying.
HOWEVER, that being said: My sister was surprised when I recommended to her that she let her baby “cry it out.” She assumed I was an indulgent, co-sleeping fanatic. Not at all.
One of the reasons I co-sleep is because I am a single working mom whose daughter is in daycare five days a week. Once I went back to work after she was born, I realized that picking her up from daycare at 5:30 pm and putting her in a room all alone at 7:30 pm, only to wake her up and bundle her off to daycare again in the morning – just wasn’t for me.
It’s completely different scenario for people like my sister, and possibly you (?), who are with their child more often than that during the day.
One of the best pieces of bed-time advice I ever read (I can’t remember who it was, perhaps even Dr. Sears) was that there’s a difference between a kid who won’t go to sleep because they aren’t spending enough time with their parents, in which case their parents need to rearrange their lives, and a kid who won’t go to sleep because they’re having too much fun, in which case the kid needs to do the rearranging.
If Sadie is spending her days with you and Jon, being showered with love and affection and having fun with her sisters, then she can be expected to go to bed at night at her age. If her emotional needs are otherwise being met, you can *demand* that she go to bed at an appropriate time.
The important thing, and I say this only half joking, is that once you start the battle, you have to win at ALL COSTS.:-) Even if it means staying up all night for a week. Show no weakness and no mercy; if you can’t beat her now, what are you gonna do when she’s a teenager?
I always say to my hubby, “okay, we have the whole non-eating thing (and it’s a biggie), but at least we don’t have to deal with sleep issues”.
I know that you’re dealing with both. Sorry.
I have a girlfriend that followed the exact advice that “Sarah 7:56″ gave and it worked for their extremely difficult, high energy, stubborn daughter. Took 3 nights, but it got progressively better over the 3 nights and has been pretty easy since. It takes LOTS of willpower and make sure to show NO emotion while doing it. Botox?
Wow. I agree with the Overtired comments.I have two boys and I always struggle when they don’t get enough sleep. It becomes a vicious cycle. I have my four year old (oldest) lay in his bed for an hour even if he is not going to sleep in the afternoon. I think the rest does him good. If they are up too long or too late, fuhgeddaboutit.
I don’t recommend that you go live in an abandoned bus a few miles off the Stampede Trail near Denali National Park. I know it sounds like a good idea, but it’s not.
Maybe crushed Ambien in her PB&J?
Ted @ EduFunToys.com said,
I’ve never understood how kids can scream for so long. If I’m yelling at a concert for 2 hours, my voice is completely gone the next day. Do kids have super-powered larynges?
I sincerely hope Sadie grows out of this. I feel your pain. Hang in there.
I second Melatonin and Epsom Salts. I know you think they will not help but they changed our lives. Melatonin is routinely prescribed by paediatricians here in the UK to children with sleeping difficulties. My son has been on it now for 4 years, without it, he does not go to sleep, he simply does not sleep and everyone’s life is hell. It may take some time to take effect but it really might make a difference. I’m happy to discuss it in email if you like, I know a lot about it as I’v spent a lot of time trying to understand why it creates The Magic in our lives. (It is not sold OTC here in the UK which is why it is on rx.)
I used to nanny for a little girl that had insomnia and the melatonin helped a lot! It is worth a try right?
er, actually I don’t know what you think about melatonin and epsom salts, should not have said, “I know you think they will not help.” last time I checked, I was not able to mind read. How do I know what you think.
Stephanie, did the melatonin help? I am so sorry that you are going through this. I too used it on my oldest son (he has ASD) when he was younger and it did work. That picture of Sadie takes my breath away, she is such a beauty.
Right there with you on the sleep deprivation! I’m on my second non-sleeper now. Good times. Does she only do this with you guys? Have you had any sitters put her to bed? My hell on wheels first child would sleep like an angel for any babysitter. Drove me nuts. We joked about hiring a sitter for bedtime every night. Even if she won’t sleep for a sitter, at least it will be one night when you won’t have to hear her and you can come home to a quiet house. And now I have to go find an all night drug store to try melatonin with mine!
My heart goes out to you. That sounds just awful. I’ve had the occasional standard sleep problems with my kids, but nothing that every parent hasn’t gone through. I can’t imagine how frustrating this is for everyone! I hope you can find a solution, soon, that works for everyone–and for Sadie too, since in addition to clearly wanting to be the boss of her life, I’m sure she’s really tired and cranky after an experience like that!
Associate Girl said,
The title of this post – funniest title in blog history.
Stef — Wish I had some good advice for you. From the mother whose nearly 3-year-old twins till drink milk from their bottles AND WANT ME TO HOLD IT FOR THEM LIKE THEY ARE INFANTS. No, you don’t want my advice.
I hope this passes soon. Not sleeping will send you off the crazy train.
Lulu´s last blog post ..NoPrescriptionNeededcom
I have nothing to offer that hasn’t already been said here in comments. But I’m sorry. I know how much it sucks to dread bed time, especially at the end of a long ass day.
Figure out a way to make them nap. I swear it will help. And every once in a while after Maddy has been going bonkers for a while I go in and tell her that’s it. Mommy isn’t coming in here anymore. Then I leave which breaks me in two but hey man, who’s in charge here?
She WILL eventually grow out of this. XXOO.
seekingclarav´s last blog post ..Let’s hope I don’t jinx it with this braggy post
michelle ford said,
One word, BENADRYL, use it for as many nights as it takes to break the cycle ?
Try nursing her.
Been There said,
We went through this with our oldest daughter after baby sister was born. It began soon after Christmas and her 3rd birthday. For six weeks, we were getting 3 to 4 hours of sleep because she needed her PJs changed, then a drink, then a drink in different cup, and on and on. One night, in desperation, I told my husband we should lock the bedroom door and pretend we don’t hear her screaming and trying to break it down. I was seriously worried someone was going to have a breakdown. She pounded and yelled for two hours. I don’t know how the baby slept through it, but she did. By the time the episodes ended, we were too upset to sleep. We consulted a friend who specializes in family therapy. He emphasized the importance of not giving the child the power–no eye contact! Take her hand and lead her back to her room (he said maybe don’t let her pound and scream quite so long). Anyway, it did get better, very quickly as I recall. We had to go on vacation one time before she was even two and she kept us up for five days straight. No lie. She’s 16 now. We survived and you will, too. Oh yeah, when we described her behavior to our therapist friend, the first thing he said was “she is very intelligent”. He was right about that, too.
You’re probably so strung out that a book recommendation isn’t particularly welcome, but I’d take a look at “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”. Ignore the blurb from Cindy Crawford on the front. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time thinking her situation has much in common with mine. Also, the book by the famous Ferber — I think it’s called “Solving Your Child’s Sleep Problems”.
As I understand, what happens when humans push it and get overtired, the body releases a hormone that keeps them from going to sleep. Ever pushed through the drowsiness to finish a page-turning book, and then been unable to sleep when you finally turn out the light? The same thing is at work. It probably helped us back in the olden days when we had to outrun bears, or whatever, but it’s not so great now.
Anyway, once I understood this, I tended to watch my (one) kid like a hawk for any signs of tiredness, and put her down as soon as possible. But yes, I have one kid, which is an entirely different bucket of bolts.
It also sounds like you and Jon need to recoup some sleep just to deal with the situation. Any chance you could alternate sleeping in a hotel until you feel restored? Or at a friend’s with a spare room. Dealing with this kind of challenge when you’re depleted can seem overwhelming.
Or you could sell Sadie to a wealthy infertile couple.
Jes kiddin’. I hope this time passes quickly for you.
Oh, hon… I guess we never discussed this, but I too am the owner of a non-sleeper. He gets it from me, so I can’t even be satisfyingly outraged. Jackson is 3 now, so if he naps in the afternoon, then he ends up falling asleep around 10:30 or 11. Even if I put him down at 8. And I’m like, REALLY? You’re 3. Then he’s up at 6 – no matter what. It sucks.
I think the Epsom salt thing, the melatonin and the boarding school ideas all have promise. I have nothing constructive to add, except that when he’s jumping on my face at 6 AM, saying “MOM! WAKE UP!!” I like to plot the ways in which I will exact my revenge on him when he is a teenager and wants to sleep all the time. Kid’s not gonna know what hit him.
xoxo – Michelle
Have you ever thought about sensory processing disorder? My now 8 year old son never slept more than 45 minutes at a time and would throw the mother of all tantrums. (I seriously think he’s the reason I started hitting the wine so hard. Sorry to my baby but it’s true!)
Anyway, after trying every f’ing intervention and every tip and advise I finally took him to an Occupational Therapist who immediately identified that he was not able to “regulate” himself. I practically fell into her arms sobbing –I was so relieved that someone else saw what I was dealing with and that it wasn’t my fault.
So, we worked with the OT for about 6 months last year and it’s helped so much. My boy is happier, I’m happier and his emotions don’t rule our house anymore.
Just thought I’d throw in my two cents.
Hang in there sister!
I have not read all the comments so forgive me if this is repeated. Is is Possible that she has fluid in her ears that is bothering her? Not an infection but fluid and that is why she does not want to lay down to sleep? Or is it possible that she is having trouble breathing laying down. I only say this from experiance with my daughter. Her tonsils are huge (but don’t get infected) and when she lays down they fall back against whatever they fall back on and it hinders her breathing. It also is now causing her to snore. And she has constant fluid in her ears without infection that bothers her. Does she mouth breath during the day?
Mimi’s struggled with sensory disorganization, PTSD, and night terrors since she came home from the Russian orphanage, and now I am so rigid about our sleep routine, you’d think I was running the country, not just putting a toddler to bed. I prepare like I’m performing surgery. We have music, a warm bath, dimmed lighting, a lavender candle (sounds like a hot date. Oh, how I wish.), sleepy-time body lotion, books, and a guided meditation. Every. single. night. In the years we’ve been at this I’ve occasionally missed one step or the other and I pay for it every time. Not generally right away, she will GO to sleep, but certainly some time during the night, when she jerks up screaming. Truly, though, when I follow my routine to the letter, she will sleep all night. So we have our own kind of extreme sitch. But we only have one child, couldn’t imagine doing all of this with three, but I can say the lavender and the lotion seems to relax her. Maybe that’s a suggestion? Good luck, Stef.
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Jesus this sounds so familiar. I wish I had a magical cure to pass along to you. But I don’t. The only thing I can tell you is that it IS a phase in the sense that it will get “better.” And by “better,” I mean that it will change. Our now 6 year-old (yes, he survived) psychotic, sleep-allergic son sleeps until 6 a.m. But there have been times in his short life when he screamed when we put him to bed, awoke at 4 a.m. and screamed until we let him get out of bed, tried to fall sleep at 4 p.m. because he was so freakin’ tired, etc. We have experienced every permutation of sleep disorder. So for now we know that awaking at 6 a.m. is as good as it gets and we await the time when he is 16 and wants to sleep all day…payback is a mother-fucker!
I do have a kid like that. Except she is 6 now and her year of therapy has done shit for teaching coping skills so I have no advice. Did I mention it is one am now? Sorry.
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