Showing posts with label sleep. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sleep. Show all posts

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Parenting 101: How to not let the clocks ruin your child's sleep pattern

It is that annoying weekend again. I have ranted about this before and I will do it again now. Why oh why do we have to go through this annual ritual of messing up everyone's body clocks just so that it can be slightly brighter at night (but dark again in the mornings).

I still don't fully understand the benefit these days. But I will avoid ranting any more here. If you want to find out who to direct your rant to it was a certain Mr Willett.

Meanwhile, how do you cope this weekend when, not only have the children been off school for the Easter holidays - and presumably allowed to stay up a little later in the vain hope they might give you a lie in - but you also need to adjust their body clock back the other way in time for school's return?

Monday, 18 March 2013

Nightmares: How to deal with them when they start in young children

So, yesterday we talked about the potential causes of nightmares in children.   In my case this was a combination of poor judgement around approved film watching, and Little Miss George (4)  getting too used to having her big sister, Princess Peppa (6), sleeping over in her room whilst the roof was being fixed.

But once they start, is there anything you can do?

Little Miss George quickly developed a fear of the dark and wouldn't even go into our hall to go to the toilet on her own.  She'd wake up three or four times a night and cry out for us, only settling to sleep if we sat next to her bed holding her hand, got into bed with her, or, when it was close to morning, allowed her to get in our bed with us, something we have rarely done.

Monday, 7 May 2012

How to get sleep even during a child's illness & what medicines to give when?

How do you console a crying child with a temperature? How do you revitalise a child running a temperature, but who is otherwise absolutely fine?

How do you ensure a temperature doesn't keep a child awake at a time when sleep would be the best thing to help them recover?  How do you do all this without appearing at the doctors office at the first sign of every sniffle?

Every mother I know has a stock of Calpol in the cupboard. Most also have Calprofen. I know we do. But I still go through a debate with myself before I dish out a dose.

Should I be reverting to medicine this quickly? Will they build up a resistance? Could they cope without it? All the questions that you answer one way when you have the luxury of debating it without a weeping child burning up in your arms, but of course, when it comes to it, you dish out that dose pretty quickly.

And so it then becomes a question of dosage and timing. Which to give and when to give it. It took a while for us to work out that you can give both at the same time. Calpol being for pain relief, Calprofen being an  anti-inflammatory. But if you literally give them at the same time, you then have a 4-6 hour window where they are not allowed any more medicine. After 3 hours this can be a problem.

So we tend to alternate.  Calprofen with meals (as required); at 6.30am, 12noon and 6pm. Calpol in between at 9.30am if needed, 2.30 if needed and, in order to ensure we get our sleep at the same time they do, we gently wake them at around 10.30pm to give a dose.

It's this 10.30pm dose that saves our sanity when they are unwell. It means that we get a good batch of sleep ourselves and if we're lucky until 6am. If we skip this dose they tend to wake at 3am; and I don't cope well with 3am wake-ups.  It is seriously detrimental to my ability to calmly nurse them better.  Particularly in the summer when, after sitting with them for half an hour you suddenly hear the birds start singing!

Last night I forgot. My daughter was running a slight temperature, and had swollen tonsils, but was generally fine and running around playing.  She had some medicine at 2.30pm, as she became very hot fairly suddenly;  but then we forgot to do anymore as she seemed fairly well. Of course, at 3.30am this morning she woke up, crying, very hot and with swollen tonsils that were hurting (I could tell by the laboured swallowing). A quick dose of Calprofen was required, but of course I had to sit with her for quite a while to wait for it to start it's work enough for her to fall asleep.

Whilst the Calpol and Calprofen combination works well for things like sore throats and temperatures; (where they are generally fine, but need help fighting something off) I find that the old fashioned cold, with it's runny nose and subsequent coughing, can be stopped just enough for your child to get a good nights sleep with one of these; Karvol, Olbas Oil or Vicks VaboRub. 

The choice depends on symptoms.  With a blocked up nose that needs clearing, Olbas oil works well.  For a runny nose that needs stemming, Karvol works well.  To ease the congestion and tickling at the coughing stage, Vicks Vaborub (rubbed on their feet - yes, I know it's weird, but it works) is our choice.

And did I get back to sleep last night?  As is typical of these kind of nights, the 5 year old then woke up having had a bad dream. I got back into bed at nearly 5am. It's lucky I have a lovely hubby who gave me a surprise lie in this morning in thanks for getting up with the children in the night!  You can't plan for bad dreams unfortunately!

Click here for tips on settling a child to sleep at night.

Please note: the advice here is in no way intended as a substitute for medical advice.  If an appropriate dose of medicine doesn't bring your child's temperature down within an hour, or indeed if they are obviously very unwell, you should seek medical advice.  The advice presented here is purely for those situations where the child is generally fine, but is fighting a slight temperature and occasionally needs assistance with that.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tips for winding your baby

Does your baby scream every time they are laid on a changing mat?

Does your baby happily fall asleep in your arms, but scream the second they are laid in their cot?

There's a good chance they still have wind.

Even when they fall asleep in your arms after a feed and you wait a good half an hour before trying to transfer them to a cot, there's a good chance any screaming is to do with wind.

Our eldest particularly struggled with this, because it took us such a long time to work it out.  We'd wind her; she'd bring up some wind and snuggle into our arms, or up on our shoulder.  She'd fall to sleep.  Then we'd try and transfer her to a cot and the screaming would start instantly.  We thought it was all to do with wanting cuddles.  She'd sleep in her bouncy chair; sitting upright of course.  She'd sleep in her car seat. Sitting upright.  Spot the pattern yet?.  But she wouldn't sleep flat.  Eventually we learnt that she still had wind.

We discovered that we needed to test our winding success by leaning her back into a flat position whilst still on our knee.  If she started to scream, or arched her back, or pulled her legs up to her chest, then the wind hadn't all cleared, and we'd continue to wind her.

Sometimes she'd scream throughout the winding, and fling herself backwards whilst we were trying to sit her on our knee to wind her.  We learnt to stay calm and keep winding, because that was the only solution.

Some tips for good winding include:

  • sit baby up on your knee, leaning slightly forwards, chin supported with one hand (obviously away from the neck) and rub your hand repetitively up baby's back.
  • Whilst in this position, different rubbing techniques include using two fingers to snake up either side of the spine in a wave motion.
  • Alternate rubbing (always upwards) with panting on the back.  Three or four pants, starting low on the back and moving upwards are particularly effective.
  • Some parents find winding up on their shoulder easier.  The same hand motions can be used.
  • Don't forget to use a muslin to protect your knee or shoulder in case more comes up than air!
Just remember you are trying to ease a pocket of air out from their tummy upwards to their mouth.  So the most effective winding eases the air pockets upwards.

Your baby may start to fall asleep sat up on your knee (despite how uncomfortable it looks).  Don't be fooled though.  Gently lie them backwards, to a flat back position.  If they wake screaming, your job isn't yet finished.  Keep that winding going.  If, however, they stay asleep, your work here is done.  Transfer to cot and pop the kettle on quick!  You probably won't get long!

I hope that helps.

For tips on how to change a nappy click here.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Sleep Experiment.....

...grinds to an almighty halt.  It's not that I haven't got the desire to sleep well, it's just that the theory of sleep patterns and cycles requires a consistency of bedtime that is just not that easy if you want to have something resembling an actual life.  I'm getting up at 6.30am every morning and my Lumie light is helping to bring a consistency to the time that the sun comes up.  But my bedtime is ranging from 9.30pm on days when I just can't keep my eyes open anymore, to midnight on those days when I've been working, the children have gone to bed fairly late, I've not had tea (or dinner depending on whether you come from the north or south of the country) until late, but I still just want that free half an hour to myself.  A clear block of time to enjoy a glass of wine and maybe, if I'm lucky, catch a decent bit of TV. 

Not you might argue that it's up to me to pull my weight and put in the effort required to be consistent at bedtime if I want to enjoy the fruits of consistent and refreshing sleep.  Well yes.  But this month's not really been the time to focus on it.  You see, those of you who have been regular visits to this page for a while might know that I am something of a dancer.  Or at least I was 15 years ago and despite my body's protests my brain still believes it now. 

So 6 months ago I found an advanced Jazz and Tap class for adults in my area and I jumped at it.  The fact that they were gearing up for their 2-yearly show at the local theatre made it even more enticing.   And before my husband knew it he was being single-dad for 3 Saturdays on the trot for dress rehearsals and for 3 evenings of the show from 6pm until I finally got home at 11pm all excited with adrenaline still pumping from the experience of dancing in front of a sold out theatre of over 500 people. 

I absolutely had a ball.  And we are already back into weekly classes learning new routine for next time.  So with all the good intentions in the world, sometimes life just takes over.  And I'd much rather be reaching for the coffee and living life, than being a wide awake and refreshed bore.

So I'll try and be consistent.  When I can.  And in the meantime, let me know if you find that consistent bedtimes and wake up times makes any difference....!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The sleep experiment...

OK, so I've been experimenting with my sleep patterns this week.  To catch up click here.  I've definitely noticed that I wake up more refreshed and ready to go if I can remember the dream I was having when I awake.  Essentially if I've had time dozing, and I get out of bed between dozes, then I'm OK.

I point out that 'ok' in this case simply means I'm slightly less likely to bite your head of if you try and have a conversation with me within the first 30 minutes of being upright.

I also seem to do better if I've had a 'round' number of hours sleep.  I realise that was incredibly poor grammar, and no-one will understand what I'm trying to say, so I'll try that again...  When I sleep for 6, or 7, or 8 hours and wake 'on the hour' I'm better than if I wake on the 1/2 hour.  I can only assume that my sleep cycles happen to add up like that.

In fact, sleeping for longer does not necessarily mean I'm more refreshed.  It's more about where I am in that cycle when I awake.

I'll keep experimenting, and you never know... I might soon be lifting the corners of my mouth before I get to the school gate!

Friday, 10 June 2011

How to cope with loosing sleep!

I have always had trouble getting up in the morning.  I'm a grumpy, impatient, groggy mess for at least an hour.  That is an hour after I get out of bed, and generally I've been slamming the snooze button for a good 20 minutes before then.... becoming more and more annoyed at that button in the process.

Before I had children I used to be able to sleep until 8.30am and still get to work for 9.30.  I'd then work until 6pm, as I seem to be at my best between 3pm and 6pm.  This pattern was so distinct that my colleagues began to deliberately avoid asking me stuff until late afternoon.  And even though I was going to bed before 11pm and getting over 9 hours of sleep, I still wasn't lively and awake in the morning.

Now I have 2 young children and I never get up in a good way.  I always feel angry at the day for starting before I'm ready for it.  I feel frustrated that the children and my alarm clock wake me up.  And I'm envious of my husband's apparent ease at getting out of bed in the morning happy and fully awake.

I've tried one of those Lumie light clocks.  It's helpful to an extent, making waking up on those dark winter mornings slightly more palatable.  But it has had no effect no effect on my morning mood.  So now I've had enough.  I thought about it; worked out that I wake up slightly less grumpily if I'm woken up whilst dreaming vivid dreams, and I thought I'd make the effort to learn more about sleep and how it works so as to better understand how I can help myself. 

It turns out that we sleep in cycles of about 90-110 minutes, and each cycle contains various stages; drowsy sleep(1), light sleep(2), deep sleep(3&4) and REM sleep, with us working through them in this order; 1,2,3,4,3,2,1,REM for a couple of cycles, and then loosing number 4, then number 3 on the next couple of cycles.  It also turns out that if your alarm clock wakes you up in the middle of your deep sleep you'll feel groggy and unhappy as this isn't the natural point at which to wake.  You actually want to wake up whilst in REM sleep; or whilst you are having those dreams!  Meaning the length of time between falling to sleep at night and waking up in the morning is the important part; not what time it happens to say on the clock when you wake.  Of course the length of the stages and cycles will also vary from person to person.

So going to bed late does indeed throw out the natural rhythms as you will interrupt your sleep with the alarm at a different point to usually.  The time; 6am; may be the same, but your body won't be at the same point.  (read more here)

So I'm going to try going to bed at 10pm, with an aim to be asleep for 10.30pm, 1 cycle would take me to 12.20am, another to 2.10am, another to 4am and the final to 5.50am.  But since 5.50am would be the end of that cycle after a longer period of REM sleep and I'd be about to move back into stage 1, I'll try setting the alarm for 5.40am on the basis that I should be in the middle of REM then.

It seems very early.

I usually try and set the clock for 6.15am and drag myself out of bed at 6.30am.  Today was particularly difficult, but I went to bed early last night and was asleep by 10.30, so was probably back in the stage 1 when the alarm went off.

It all sound a bit complicated, but I'll experiment and let you know how I get on.  Of course, in an ideal world I'll be getting up and exercising....! Hmmm.  Baby steps....

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Looking Good On No Sleep?

Tricky one, this.  And I'm in need of advice myself. 

We've had two disturbed nights due to our youngest having yet another cold and spending the nights coughing.  In the end it took a dose of Karvol on her sheets (it is a decongestant capsule that you empty onto a hanky or bedding and it produces a vapour that essentially stops a runny nose in its tracks) to stop the coughing caused by her runny nose and a dose of Calcough to sooth her throat.  But these treatments took some time to take effect during which I had to lie on the floor by her bed, holding her hand, in order to comfort her. 

She's still in a cot bed (which is why I could reach!), but lying on the floor next to her, even if it is carpeted, isn't particularly comfortable.  Not only do I end up with a bruised hip, but I also end up dosing off and waking up half an hour later freezing cold.  Even with the balmy weather we've had in the UK this week, lying on the floor with just a dressing gown on isn't a good idea. 

So I stagger back to bed, by which time it's 4:45am, and try and go back to sleep again.  The alarm goes off at 6am as usual and of course I'm so so so warm and comfortable that the last thing I want to do is get up.  Half an hour's worth of snoozing later,  I end up rushing about trying to get myself and two children ready and out of the door by 7.30am. 

Irony was the name of the game  - because my daughter was, of course, now sleeping peacefully!  I had to lift her out of bed, wrap her in a blanket, and put her straight in the car.  No breakfast together today.

It doesn't take a genius to realise that lack of sleep and no time to get ready does not equal good looking.  Is there a cure for bloodshot eyes?  Does yawning go hand in hand with sophisticated professionalism?  Maybe not. 

Running out of mascara didn't help.

Wearing trousers that were just too short for the height of heel I chose today also didn't help.  (I have a thing about trousers being the right length.  Just above the floor: regardless of heel size.)  I hadn't prepared the outfit the night before you see.  Ironically.

Having absolutely no clean, ironed clothes that are mine also didn't help.

I'm beginning to wish I had a 'fancy' head to simply pick up and pop on, Worzel Gummidge style.

Hmmmm.  Maybe a wig is the first step?

Monday, 4 April 2011

The half past four meltdown!

Cheeky Monkey No.2 is now two and a half years old and she's suddenly hit the end of nap time.

Both my girls have been pretty good sleepers (compared to some stories I've heard from friends!), but it would appear that they have both decided nap times are not acceptable after two and a half. 

It's fine.  Or at least it will be, when she actually gets to the age where she doesn't need more than the 11 hours sleep she gets each night.  But at the moment she quite often hits 4.30pm and disintegrates!  It's like watching a otherwise healthy tulip suddenly run out of water in it's vase and collapse in a pile of petals within 5 minutes.  One minute; happy and cheerful; the next minute; a cross between a screaming 12 month old and a 14 year old stroppy teenager.

Again; it's fine.  But only when I prepare for it.  Planning to cook a lovely family meal at 5.30pm isn't generally a good idea at the moment.  Unless, of course, it's the one day each fortnight when it all becomes too much and she collapses into an exhaustion induced nap at 3pm, and you know that it's a choice between waking her up and dealing with Jeykll (or is it Hyde) for the next hour, or letting her sleep and accepting that bedtime will be around 3 hours later than usual.

So it's cooked meals at lunch, quick sandwiches for tea.  At 4pm of course.  You don't think I'd wait until the 4.30 meltdown do you?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Parenting Wisdom.....?

I cannot reiterate this enough.  Grandma is a genius.  Cheeky Monkey No 2 is now happily waving us goodnight each evening and settling herself down to sleep in her cot.  See my previous post for the method. Sleep & how to keep your bed to yourself 

She occasionally still wakes up in the night.  But it's not guaranteed and she will, if returned to bed in the calm way described (without talking) simply go straight back to sleep (even at 5am in the morning, and that's a first!) She's 26 months old.

And so I am at that lovely point.  The one where you feel that you've solved a parenting dilemma.  That you can actually do this parenting lark.  And fairly well, actually.  That staying up past 10pm is now a long distant dream that has returned to your world.  You want your evenings back.  You relax.  You think you can stay up until, dare I say it, closer to 11pm, and still wake up vaguely human at 6am the next morning.

That is until the next saga.  Which will no doubt hit me tonight (cynic, nah!) now I've mentioned it.  Because, you see, parenting successes are fleeting.  You win one, you move on to the next one.  Challenge after challenge, day after day.  Knowing that, however little sleep you've had, however demoralised, uncertain, lost, confused, angry, exhausted, drained, worn out; you are still happy, in love, proud, certain, amazed, stunned, excited, gleeful, and ready to face the challenge.  For in no other job are the rewards so great.  Just one smile, one hug, one "I love you mummy", and I'm back. Back in the game. 

Now what time did that film finish?  Midnight?  No problem!?

Friday, 5 November 2010

British Summer Time? Honestly, Mr Willett?

Grandma can still be smug (see previous post).  Cheeky Monkey No. 2 is now settling to sleep herself happily after waving goodnight to me.  Brilliant.

However; I am not at all happy with a certain William Willett (1857 - 1915), who, when he had the bright idea of creating British Summer Time, clearly didn't have two toddlers in his house. 

We have had 4.30am wake-ups every morning this week, after the clock change over last Sunday.

4.30am!  That's just ridiculous-o-clock.  No wonder I am obsessed with sleep.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Parenting advice...Sleep & how to keep your bed to yourself!

"MUMMY!" she shouts, "COME BACK".  Pause... She's waiting for a reaction.  Doesn't get one for a few seconds - I can't move that fast. "COME BACK ANOTHER DAY".......

Cheeky Monkey No 2's favourite song at the moment is "Rain, rain go away....come back another day".  Her favourite game tonight.... not staying in bed.

This was last weekend.  It was the second night of my implementation of 'Project Grandma-knows-best'.  Regular readers will know that CM No 2 has been testing us since we converted her cot into a cot bed.  She used to happily go into her cot, wave goodnight and snuggle down to sleep on her own.  She'd been doing this most of her second year.  But once she hit 2 yrs, the bed conversion happened, and; whether it was the freedom she suddenly had to get out of bed, or the lack of comforting bars around her; she did not want to settle to sleep on her own. 

With our first child, Cheeky Monkey No 1 (now 4 yrs), we had always been very strict about sleeping in your own bed and not in Mummy and Daddy's bed!  And we had used the Controlled crying technique when we went through a similar stage with her.  Successfully (albeit stressfully).

But with CM No 2, controlled crying is less of an option, when she's disturbing her big sister's sleep too.  So we'd tried sitting with or lying next to her until she went to sleep.  Fine when she's exhausted and drops immediately.  Less fun when she's more awake, and every time you try and creep out of the room she wakes up again. 

When she started waking in the night as well, and wanting us to lie with her again then, we realised we'd fallen into the trap of 'sleep associations'.  She now couldn't settle to sleep without us there.  Much to our own surprise, on two occasions we even ended up bringing her into our bed with us at 3am, when we were all just desperate for sleep. We realised we had to stop that, and fast, so we went back to a pattern of lying next to her until she dropped off, then creeping out of the room.  Hardly ideal when you're having to do it a few times a night.

In steps Grandma.  The girls went to stay with Grandma for a weekend, and Grandma tested a new bedtime routine of her own devising.  Firstly; she sang a lullaby to them both whilst CM No 1 lay tucked up in bed, and CM No 2 sat on Grandma's knee by the bed.  With CM No 1 very good at going to sleep during her lullaby already (and happy to say goodnight if she isn't), Grandma then took CM No 2 into her bedroom and commenced Project Grandma-knows-best.

She tucked her into bed.  Gave her a kiss.  Said goodnight. and left the room immediately, leaving the door fully open.

Of course we all know exactly what happened next.  CM No 2 screamed and ran to the child gate on her bedroom door.  But whilst I might have tried this and gone downstairs, leaving her a minute before returning, and then leaving ever increasing intervals (the controlled crying method) Grandma waited just outside the door, unseen until CM No 2 reached the doorway.  And as soon as CM No 2 saw her, she stopped screaming and went quiet.  This was new.  Grandma went into the room, tucked her back in, gave her a kiss.  And did not say a word.  She then immediately left the room again. 

CM No 2 jumped up and ran to the door (no screaming).  Saw Grandma was still there.  Grandma pointed to her cot, and walked into the room.  CM No 2 climbed back into bed, was tucked back in, given a kiss and, without a word spoken, Grandma left the room again.

Over and over this little dance played out.  Grandma tells me she returned her to bed over 40 times.  It took about an hour, during which CM No 2 crucially didn't cry, (always nice, and better for everyones' stress levels), and during which Grandma never said a word.  Finally CM No 2 climbed into bed, and didn't get back out. 

The next night Grandma repeated the technique.  And in half an hour, without crying, and with no talking after that first tucking in, she was asleep in bed.

Of course then she came home and it was our turn.  I followed the instructions to the letter, and it took around 40 minutes the first night.

The next night she was less tired, having had a long nap in the day.  She paraded backwards and forwards through her bedroom, muttering to herself, singing songs, and shouting if, on the odd occasion, she got to the door and I wasn't there (I'd popped to check on her sister).  The shouting wasn't angry, or stressful, she was just shouting for me to "Come Back", and combining her favourite song in the process.  That night took longer (just over an hour), and the hardest thing was not laughing at the funny walks and singing - keeping a serious (not angry) face.  It made a change from the stressful bedtimes where I've returned her to bed so many times, with her crying because I've left her a few minutes at a time, and where everyone has just got more and more stressed until she's basically fallen to sleep of exhaustion. 

And so, 10 days on, and we've had 2 nights where she hasn't got out of bed once at bedtime, and has gone straight back to bed and stayed there when I've repeated the technique during nighttime wakings.

Tonight I had to return her maybe 8 times.  But it only took 10 minutes.

And so, Grandma definitely knows best.  She's not smug at all!  She says it works because you are sending a message that it's not playtime, that there will be no conversation about it.  That the only thing that is going to happen is that the child is going to get back into bed and be tucked in.  And that's it.  And you are doing this whilst also sending the message that you are then going to leave the room.  But reassuringly are only just outside.  And every time they come to shout, you are there, but will simply gently, but firmly, tuck them back in bed.  It's a strong message because it's done through body language, and isn't clouded by talking.  Talking which, if you are tired, stressed or angry, would show in your voice and upset the child more, no matter what words you said.

Maybe we'll call it Grandma's technique.  It works.  Try it for a week and see the progress.  But remember - serious face.  No laughing!

Monday, 11 October 2010

How to get some sleep?

Oh, if only I knew!?

If only there was one, straightforward, ready answer, to getting a little shut eye when you have two young children in the house. 

Remember my previous posts about Cheeky Monkey No 2's transfer from a cot to a cot bed?  She seemed to be getting better, in so far as she'd occasionally sleep through from 7.30pm until 5.30am.  But there has been no consistency.  Some nights she'll protest simply about going to bed and will ask us to lie in her room with her for a little bit.  She's only just turned two, but it's incredible how many words they can string together when they want something specific! 

And now we seem to be getting woken at around 3am.  And I do not exaggerate even in the slightest when I say that we are not just 'woken', but are 'thrown forcibly out of the snug bliss of dreamland only to land with a bump into a world devoid of any noise other than a blood curdling scream.' 

I think I could cope better if she was rousing in the night and mumbling to herself.  Or even calling out my name to get a cuddle to help her go back to sleep.  But no.  What we get instead is complete silence followed one second later by 'SCREAMING!!'

As you can imagine, I leap out of bed in shock.  Stumble through to her room as fast as I can, bearing in mind my lack of consciousness, trying desperately not to walk into doors, trip over the child gate, or trip over her.  I  gently walk her back to bed, tuck her in; she goes quiet pretty quickly if I lie down on the floor next to her; and she's asleep again within roughly 15 minutes of lying quietly.

So what's that all about!?

I'm hoping, with fingers and toes crossed, that she is simply teething.  That the nappy rash and runny nose are actually symptomatic rather than random coincidence.  And that those four back teeth will arrive soon and help to stop the night waking.

I'm hoping.  My concealer's good, but it won't be up to the job of covering those bags soon.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Sleep. Lack of Sleep. And a Pigeon with a Leisure Pass.

On Tuesday it took an hour from first getting Cheeky Monkey No. 2 into her cot bed to her falling asleep.  On Wednesday it took 45 minutes. Yesterday it took 1 minute (she was exhausted, and hadn't napped.  I knew it was a fluke.)   Tonight, it took 15 minutes.  Progress is being made!

I'm trying to be calm, supportive, gentle and firm.  That means that rather than raising my voice when she starts screaming as soon as I leave the room, I simply walk back to her cot, gentle pick her back up, quick cuddle, "it's bedtime", into bed, "night night", leave the room.  And I've lost track of how many times I've repeated that.  But it's working. 

I remember getting more upset going through the same process with Cheeky Monkey No. 1 two years ago.  I remember getting angry, frustrated, teary, and wondered why she was getting more angry, frustrated, and teary!  It would appear that staying calm is definitely the key.  Easier said than done, I know.

Having said that, it's an awful lot easier to stay yummy-looking when you're not in tears.  And when you have the backup of the Clarins range!  I love their concealer now, and I didn't wear make up at all a year ago!

On a completely different, very random, note: a pigeon flew inside the door of our local leisure centre in front of me this week.  I wondered whether I should queue up behind him.  He shocked the receptionist.  A couple of other female leisure centre workers immediately backed away in a very girly fashion.  The pigeon surveyed the reception area and scuttled through the entry barrier and made to wander up the stairs.  He clearly fancied a bit of a sauna.  It took another, more capable, leisure centre worker, (male, the stereotype's were prevailing today) to direct the bird back out of the door. 

Anyone got any other bizarre moments to share?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Back to School Mayhem!

I haven't had two minutes spare in the last week!  This week Cheeky Monkey No.1 starts school for the first time, Cheeky Monkey No.2 starts a new nursery and I start back at work.

I still haven't managed to find some PE shorts for CM1.  And her name labels haven't yet arrived from Marks & Spencer.  I might be more stressed as a result, but luckily CM2 was more than happy to start nursery today, was absolutely shattered on her return home, and went to bed fairly easily, bearing in mind the nightmare of a week we have had trying to get her to calmly go to sleep in her new cot bed (see previous posts).

It's late.  And I don't suppose the girls will sleep through the night, if the rest of this week is anything to go by, so I'm afraid I only have brief words of wisdom today.

1.  Don't convert a child's cot into a cotbed days before you start back to work after a summer break.
2.  Don't leave school uniform purchases, including name labels,  until the last minute.
3.  Do get your school shoes from M&S.  They are apparently "scuff resistant".  I'm looking forward to testing that claim!
4.  Do enjoy time off with toddlers.... How quickly time flies and before you know it they are at school!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Sleep.....? When cots become cot beds......

Just when you think you've got it all sorted; the girls are playing nicely together in the garden, you're actually getting some laundry sorted and ironed, and they're both sleeping through from 7.30pm until approx 6am; that's when it all goes awry again.

We have reached the point where our younger is nearly 2 years old and she can reach the top of her cot with her foot.  From 2 years of watching her older sister, she has a 'climbing' habit.  And it's purely a matter of time before she utilises her skills to throw herself out of her cot.  So we had to do it.  We had to convert the cot into a cot bed.  This weekend.

The first night was fine.  She was exhausted from a very busy day.  She went to bed late due to all the excitement surrounding the change to a new 'bed'.  So she was asleep before she could really worry about the change. 

The second night was fine.  Hubby sat with her for a bit after lullabies, and she fell to sleep whilst he was still there.  "We need to be careful we don't let that happen too often" he commented that night.  "Else she'll always want us to sit with her until she gets to sleep". 

He was right.

Today the problems started at nap time.  Usually she is brilliant at nap time.  She'll even switch into her pyjama bottoms for comfort, and snuggle up in her cot happily.  I'll say 'night night' and she'll wave me out of the room and indulge in between 1 and 2 hours kip.  Today she was absolutely not happy.  Every time I tucked her in and left the room she'd scream, run to the safety gate at her door, and stand screaming for me.

The screaming quickly reduced to whining, but 40 mins later, after so many 'tuckings-in' I lost count, when she was still getting up the second I left, I gave up and took them both out in the car for a drive.  I haven't done that in a while!  My elder was tired out too, the double buggy had been left in the boot of the hubby's car (scatty did you say?), so only my car could accommodate them both for a nap simultaneously. 

It completely messed up the afternoon's plan.  Instead of "quiet time with eldest whilst youngest naps, walk across to local supermarket for nappies, post letters, hand in forms to leisure centre, walk back via park, tea, bath bed".  It become "stressful time having to keep leaving my elder to sort the younger, stressful 30 mins trying to get the car seats back in my car (why they weren't in is a whole other story), weird 90 mins of driving around my local town so they'd sleep, a quick trip into the supermarket, forgot to post letters, no time to hand in forms, no time for park, no time for walk, a quick play in the garden, off to bed".

At 8.30pm tonight though, after trying to settle the younger down for 90 mins, I was seriously regretting letting her sleep in the day at all.  She was screaming as if she was scared to be left.  Very weird, considering that she's always been really good at saying goodnight and falling to sleep after we've left the room.

Hubby had the answer.  He pointed out that sleeping in a cot bed after a cot, was akin to me sleeping out in the middle of the garden after sleeping in my room.  Because, for her, the bars of the cot formed a wall around her, cocooning her. 

So how are we supposed to help her with this one then?  I guess I won't be doing much in the evenings this week!?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Sleep - or lack of it. Part 2

OK, so maybe reminding yourself how wonderful it is that your children need you, doesn't really cut the mustard at 4am when you've been trying to settle your baby to sleep (without waking your toddler) for the past 2 hours.

It turns out that my bout of sleepless nights wasn't over. I managed 2 hours sleep before she woke me, and 2 1/2 hours once she finally went back in her cot and stayed asleep. It was Thursday night, and, to be fair, it could have been worse. Yes, honest, it could have been! The elder managed to stay asleep, so I didn't have two of them to contend with, and since I was on my own that night I was incredibly pleased with that. And frankly, I could have had less than 5 1/2 hours sleep!

Last night they both slept. 7pm til 6.30am. It's so random. I've always found the unpredictability of it the most difficult to contend with. If I knew I'd get a full night sleep in 2 days, then I'd be able to cope with 2 nights of disturbed sleep before then. But I guess that's just one of the challenges that we face as parents.

It's 10pm tonight and the younger is coughing. So it sounds like she's not fully healthy quite yet! It remains to be seen how much sleep we'll all get tonight.

If you are the mum of a baby that is still waking in the night, I know how you feel. I've been there, done that, and although they are normally very good, I'm occasionally still doing that. And no, we don't all just cope with it easily. One of my biggest tests as a parent has been to learn to operate on less than 9 hours sleep a night. (I love my sleep!) Actually, scrap that. My biggest test has been to operate "without being grumpy" on less than 9 hours sleep a night.

My husband would definitely tell you that I haven't succeeded. It's best not to talk to me before, hmmm, say 10am, even though I've been up since 6am. It takes me that long to properly wake up and stop being grumpy! Well, at least until I'm falling asleep on the sofa at 10pm!

Speaking of which, that makes it my bedtime doesn't it! Goodnight.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sleep - or lack of it!

Just when you think you’ve got the sleep stuff sorted, along comes another problem to test your patience and your ability to think coherently on next-to-no sleep.

We thought we’d got our two girls’ sleep sorted months ago. Bath at 6pm and asleep by 7pm for the one year old, and by 7.30 for the three year old. Both up somewhere between 6 and 7am. Closer to 6am more often than we’d perhaps like, but hey, you can’t complain at that. So, when the younger came up to her first birthday we didn’t expect to be experiencing a week of middle of the night wake ups from both of them.

I’m a big believer in the theory that babies cry because there is something they are trying to communicate, and therefore I should always, given long enough, be able to work out what the problem is and fix it especially once your got to know your babies cries quite well. So when the younger woke at 9.30pm one night, I thought her problem must be wind, since she only ever woke in the evening with that problem. I tried to wind her, and, sure enough, she snuggled up on my lap, in the ‘winding’ position, and tried to get back to sleep. But when I then kissed her goodnight and put her back in her cot, she screamed.

Now the younger only ever had a short period of needing to be settled to sleep. Being the second child she worked out how to settle herself fairly quickly, both through necessity, and the fact that I knew how to teach her this time. So crying, when put back in her cot, is for her, most unusual. Back out she came for more winding, but it soon became clear that wind wasn’t her problem. I tried sitting with her for a bit, waiting for sleep, and then attempting the cot transfer, but... no such luck. I then tried giving her baby paracetamol, sitting with her for a further half hour to give that chance to do its bit, assuming that her next tooth must be causing her problems (she’d been biting everything in sight that day), and attempted the transfer again. Nope. Changing her nappy, which wasn’t particularly necessary, but I did it anyway, also made no difference. In the end her dad sat with her for a further half an hour, and managed to get her in her cot. It’s funny how sometimes a change in parent can do the trick, particularly if the first one is starting to lose patience.

Not long after that the elder woke up, and wouldn’t settle without one of us being in the room for a bit. I fell asleep in her room. Not long after I’d returned to my own bed at about 1am, did the younger wake again, and dad went to resettle her. At 5am she woke again, I sat with her for a while, and the elder woke up at 5.30, so dad went to settle her. The elder, of course, didn’t go back to sleep. The younger had another hour to try and catch up and woke around 7.30am.

This pattern, of the younger waking early evening, settling her, then having to deal with the elder, and the younger waking again around 2/3am, continued for around two weeks. But it wasn’t nearly as simple as ‘wind’.  The younger had picked up Conjunctivitus and at the same time a cold consisting of a runny nose and nasty cough. The elder then picked up the cold. We ensured that both girls got a tissue with Karvol on it in their rooms. (It’s a very effective vapour that stops the nose running, effectively then stopping most of the cough, which had been the result of the phlegm running down the back of the throat.) The younger also got a big bowl of water in her room to increase the humidity and aid the cough further.

The next few nights slowly improved, but the elder kept being woken by the younger's crying. Then, just as the younger had a couple of days with almost no cold symptoms she got really bad nappy rash. Lots of cream seemed to help, but her night waking increased that night, every time she wet her nappy.

The next day we discovered spots on her legs as well as her bottom. She’d had a similar spotty rash during a previous cold, and the doctors had confirmed it was viral. This time the doctors thought the same, but were less sure when we discovered larger blister like spots on her fingers and toes. Strangely, other than the spots, you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with her. Her conjunctivitis had by this point cleared up, and the cold had gone. Well, until the next morning anyway, when the runny nose came back. But she was livelier than ever, and that night we gave her a dose of paracetamol before bed and for the first time in almost 2 weeks she slept through without needing intervention. (we heard her murmur a couple of times but that was it.) The doctor thinks the spots may be a common childhood condition called Foot, Hand and Mouth, but can’t confirm it.  If it is, it’ll just get better within the next week or so.

We’re convinced that she has, simultaneously, been teething, so the poor girl has really had a lot to deal with this last fortnight, but I’m hoping that this period of disturbed sleep is drawing to a close. It would appear that you never can tell with children. Especially children that have both recently gone back to nursery after the summer break. Pity they share illnesses so much more easily than toys!

I guess my reason for sharing this is to say, that there was a reason for the crying. She wasn’t just being difficult – I don’t believe babies know how to do that deliberately. She needed us for various reasons, and we weren’t quite as adept at fixing her problems as well as we perhaps did when the need was purely for milk! We are learning all the time. And struggling a lot of the time. So for all you mums out there short on sleep, take heart. The time when you are having to haul them out of bed to get them to school will be upon you before you know it. So what if you have a few disturbed nights now. There’s something quite comforting about sitting in the dark with a child falling to sleep in your arms. It’s a reminder that we’re needed. And though it’s sometimes difficult, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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