If anyone was to ask me what was the the one thing I missed from before I had kids, I could tell them in a heart beat: the ability to wake up whenever I wanted. Even if it was only one day a week, it was one day of the week when my body rolled out of slumber because it felt that it had had enough.
Gone are those days, and at on mornings like this one, it feels never to return again.
I would really like to know who coined the term, ‘sleeping like a baby,’ because they certainly never met my children. You would think that with four kids, I would have had at least one that slept perfectly and wonderfully, wherever they were, whenever I told them to, but alas it is not the case. Each time I see a woman in the shops with a child asleep in the pusher or the trolley, or even draped over an arm I think to myself, ‘I wonder what that’s like.’
I tell myself that it is because they just don’t want to miss out anything life has to offer. Why sleep when you can see the world? And after all, I’m not the kind of person who likes to miss out. And if it comes to fishing, well to Tim, sleeping is the last priority.
But then I feel bad because I think maybe I am insinuating that other peoples children are somehow inferior because they have the sense to realise that if you sleep you can enjoy life a lot more, and I really don’t mean that at all. I just want to know, ‘why won’t they sleep?’
It hasn’t just been one of them. Taylah and Ava both have needed to be home and on routine to sleep, and if there is anything else at all going on, just forget it. Bridie wasn’t too bad, (actually now she is a great little sleeper), but as a baby she had so many belly problems, and that coupled with a great desire to want to be cuddled every moment of the day, meant she slept well, when she slept with me.
Bailey, however, has really taken the cake. Even as a newborn, he would refuse to sleep; lying for hours in his bassinet watching the world around him. Now that he is older he finds a thousand excuses to not go to sleep, despite the fact that he is clearly tired. He has about three toilet visits a night, and it is not unusual to find him sound asleep on the hallway floor, because heaven forbid he should actually stay in his bed!
Now with Taylah, and Bridie (to a certain extent), I can claim ignorance, but I learnt my lesson and have since done multiple parenting courses and read baby books over and over again. In fact if your child is having a problem sleeping, I can probably tell you exactly what to do. I have the knowledge, and I am strict and consistent.
So why can’t I just get one full night of sleep?
There is a phenomena known among us Growing Families Advocates as ‘couch time.’ Basically the idea is that a lot of night time waking occurs because bed is the only time when kids see mum and dad together. Couch Time encourages parents to have some uninterrupted time where the kids can see them, just to themselves.
It is definitely lacking in our house. Tim is not home till six, and then there is a rushed hour of dinner, baths, dishes, tidying up, and cuddles with dad. And I am completely exhausted and have no desire to try and fight the kids for Tim’s attention, when I can just wait until they are in bed.
But I think that fight I must. I would lay money on the fact that Bailey lays in the hallway listening to Tim and I talk because that is the only time he sees and hears it happen. Although he may be tough when it comes to cockroaches and spiders, he is sensitive about a lot of stuff, and a lack of confidence I have seen in him lately is no doubt due to a lack of confidence at home. He just wants to know mum and dad are ok.
And we haven’t given him that reassurance.
Whether this is why Ava has started waking again as well, I don’t know, but it’s definitely worth a try. As a mother I feel supremely guilty that a lack of adequate sleep or confidence could be because I simply can’t be bothered saying, ‘you guys need some quiet reading time, while mummy and daddy just sit on the couch, for ten minutes, because we love each other soooo much.’ Really, it is not a lot to ask. And I do want the time with Tim. It just seems so hard to get it.
At least when the kids are awake anyway.
There are a lot of things my kids do because of their temperament. Bailey’s ability to function on very little sleep is one of them. I’m sure that when he is grown, he will end up being one of these adults who only sleeps for five hours a night, and can wake up and change the world.
But other things are because of me. Because I am inconsistent, or tired, or just cant be bothered.
It’s hard to see that for what it is, but it’s even harder to admit it.
With Tim out on a fishing trip, my new couch time resolutions are probably not going to happen for a few days. And a weekend of camping is definitely going to mean some broken sleep, but at least we have a direction. At least we know where to start. And the motivation is not for a good nights sleep; it’s to give my little boy back his confidence.
And I really can’t put a price on that.