Bedtimes in our house have always been a lengthy process. From routine of bath, bottle, bed to the present, bath if they absolutely have to (my boys) glasses of anything but milk, bed at the last possible minute and stories now replaced by technology.
Ciara was a very good baby. Being my first she unwittingly lulled us into a false sense of security.
When my son Keelan came along, he too was a great baby hardly a murmur did he make.
However, after 3 months of gloating about how good he was, it all abruptly changed! He found his vocal chords did work and used them well! Frantic and desperate I found myself knee deep in ‘How to get your kid to sleep’ books.
Cue the ‘Controlled Method’.
This looked easy and doable, it seemed to be more about patience and persistence with a positive outcome. We were sold.
The first 5 minutes went well, as did the next 5 minutes and the next. In fact, it started so well we found ourselves saying ‘I think this is working’.
As soon as the words fell out of our mouths the wailing started. Ignoring him, we entered his room, and, as instructed, stayed silent, patted him and walked out again.
The wailing continued and so did our, in and out the room with a silent approach and constant patting. Taking it in turns to enter the room, the wailing still continued with deafening decibels.
His wailing would have given any banshee a run for its money. We managed to keep up this charade for about 2 hours until we could take no more. We went back to staying with him until he fell asleep, we never attempted it again.
When Evelena came along we were already conditioned to laying with our kids until they fell asleep.
Interestingly, on reflection there is no way I would attempt that method with a child who had anxiety problems, however as a baby it’s hard to know if they have any anxiety issues! It isn’t readily obvious so without hindsight you aren’t to know.
Although I think major sobbing uncontrollably might be a sign of some anxiety if not unhappy!. Who knows, I’m just assuming from a Mothers perspective. The experts seemed to have other views.
However, the years pass quickly and out the other end we come. Today, 3 out of our 4 kids go to bed on their own.
We believe part of Evelena’s SM surrounds her bedtime. Quite honestly it can be a right pain in the arse, in simple terms she can’t go to bed on her own, well she can go to her bed the part she cant do is sleep on her own.
The want and longing Evelena has to sleep on her own both upsets and frustrates her, believe me she has tried. She gets very upset with herself with believing she is a failure at not being able to go to do it.
She regularly sets herself goals, the promise of when her room is decorated she will sleep on her own, if she can have a double bed she will sleep on her own, alas these dates come and go and so does her hope of cracking it.
Dragging my arse up the stairs most nights, I wonder if she’s tired, however she mostly flies up the stairs like a Duracell bunny with new batteries, I know it will be a long night.
“Did you have the same trouble when you were younger mummy” is a question she often asks, of course I did I tell her. I didn’t, but this little white lie does her no harm, I don’t want her feeling she’s on her own.
It does happen to other people, even people like her good ‘ole mum. It saddens her that her friends, as she says, all go to sleep on their own so why can’t she. I explain lots of kids, even grownups can have anxieties big or small. You just don’t always know about them.
Laying on her bed I try not to get to settled for the first hour as it will be a case of her in and out of the bed like a round of ping pong. She will look out the window, adjust pictures on her wall, anything, she tends to be quite fidgety.
When that’s all done, part relaxation can take place. Sleep does not come quickly to Evelena, she will lay there going over things in her mind. It’s a time when worries comes to the forefront and she will often panic that she has forgotten to do something its like a revolving wheel of troubles going round in her mind, with me reassuring her its all fine.
“Come on lay down, sleep Evelena” is an all too common phrase at bedtime, one I repeat so much I end up yawning at myself.
However, I must stress that although I stay with Evelena until she falls asleep, I cannot at any point fall asleep. The reason being Evelena does not want to be left awake on her own.
One positive to all this is I have a guaranteed hour of no questions asked, guilt free pleasure on my phone. It’s the one time of day that I can resume play on Candy Crush Soda and try to catch up the Queen of Candy Crush aka my mum!
Evelena is a very light sleeper and it’s a real operation to make sure she is fully asleep before making any movement to leave the room. It can take up to 3 hours on a really bad night for Evelena to go to sleep.
When I think, I have judged it right and she is asleep I literally hold my breath as I start the process of making my move. Each movement I make is calculated and slow.
I listen for any change in her breathing afraid to really check in case there is an eye peering back at me! It can be quite a process getting up from the floor into a full standing position as my back and legs are not quite what they used to be!
Up and straight I lift a leg up and foot poised like a ballerina about to leap into dance, I hold my breath as I place it on what I hope is the non-creaking spot on the floor.
Like stepping on a hot potato my foot recoils like a spring as the floor creaks, I wait for any sound, on a good night there will be none so can continue on a bad night I will hear “mummy” whereby my heart drops right out of my arse as I resign myself to a long night.
With my other 3 kids, you could shine a search light in their room whilst playing a brass band and the most they would do is groan & turn over, you would have more chance raising the dead!
Some nights I suffer with guilt from getting cross with her, although 1-3 hrs is no joy. I have, however, learned to keep my annoyance in check. I have to step back and remember this is not something she does for attention, she genuinely cannot help the way is.
At this moment in her life she is unable to sleep on her own. But its not from the want of trying.
When she gets upset saying she has failed I will always tell her she hasn’t failed she has simply found a way that does not work for her! This always seems to help.
It’s an anxiety that troubles her greatly and one we have come to understand.
For her I truly hope she manages to crack this, so she can, as she so desperately wants, go to bed on her own like everyone else.