I've got two weeks exactly until the boys are back to school. I'm kind of looking forward to it. I'm not saying my kids drive me nuts (though they do sometimes...) but I have absolutely no sense of rhythm left in me right now. We don't wake up at the same times everyday, our bedtimes are out the window. I've had more sleepless nights this summer than I had in the last year.
Art is a fighter. Not an aggressive kid, not that way. He's always questioning things and sadly, it is hard to battle your 7 year old when he makes so much damn sense. He's a negotiator and more. I like to allow chances for him to state his opinions and I do give them opportunities to practice negotiating. But I also impose limits and there are things that are just not going to change no matter what argument he has or how good it sounds.
He fights and delays everything he can. He was the biggest baby of my three. He left my ribs bruised from the last month of pregnancy. He was my longest labor. He will take an hour to eat dinner. He will spend 30 minutes getting ready for the bath before the water even gets turned on. And bedtime... Oh Em Gee. Bedtimes suck. He was the only one of my kids to climb out of the crib. I had to move him into a big bed early. I had a baby gate in the door. He figured out how to get over it. When I raised it, he got good at squeezing under it. When I moved it to the stairs instead, he figured out how to go through his closet and climb through the space in the stairs on the other side of the gate. Ugh...
I resigned myself quickly to just sitting in his room. Every night. I tried all those tricks that say move a bit closer to the door every day, and then eventually stay outside the room. Yeah. Not this kid. If I was too far away, he just would not stop talking. And it doesn't matter if I talk back or not. Even on the nights he was in there completely alone, he was still talking. It is hard to tell when he has gone to sleep too, he talks in his sleep. A Lot. (I have family who thought I exaggerated this, but having had him overnight since they KNOW this is the truth.)
Macboy lost the mommy snuggles at bedtime very suddenly. I used to go and lie down with him for 5 minutes every night just before bed. We'd chat about the day, I'd tell him I love him and he'd just stay there for the rest of the night. Never a fight. With Art out of the crib, I'd try to get my time with Macboy, but I could NOT leave him alone. I couldn't put Macboy to bed first, it just didn't work. And Art fought so long every night that Macboy would be sleeping by time I could finally go see him.
I spent about 6 months talking to Art about how I would not stay in his room anymore. Once Angel Baby was out of her crib, things would be different. He needed to go to sleep by himself. I tried everything. Soothing music. Quiet reading time. Floppy Sleep Game. Visualization tips. Relaxation tips. I even tried letting natural consequence take over. I let him stay up as late as he wanted and woke him up early for a few days. I'm not doing that again, he just wakes up and keeps moving, but he is extremely miserable and whiny. (Then still fights bedtime!!)
It does not matter. When he's finally gotten everything out of his system, it takes less than five minutes for sleep to take over. But getting him to stop talking or moving? Well that's why I started going grey early!!
Angel Baby broke her crib. Literally. It is garbage now. The decision to make the switch to the big bed was immediate. No time for considering options, just "Crack!" and that was that. She moved in to her bed. I have the baby gate in the door way. She just stays in her bed. She might look at a book for a few minutes or play with a dolly. But 99% of the time, she's asleep within minutes of bedtime. She doesn't try to break out. She doesn't even try in the morning. She just wakes up and sits on her bed until I go get her. Macboy, 11 now, just goes to sleep. He has some nights that are hard, but he just stays in bed and rests until the sleep arrives.
I have taken a stand. Instead of losing an hour every night in Art's room just sitting there getting madder and madder, I informed him that I won't do it anymore. That was about a year ago, I think. Ever since, I have had a two to three hour fight at night instead. When I was hoping he'd get better at staying there and going to sleep, he ended up getting better at sneaking around the house without getting caught. It's starting to seem like it is just better to go back to sitting in his room.
He doesn't need toys or books or TV to stay awake. He pushes bedtime back by talking to himself. Making up stories, pretending his pillow is a person. Once, he put on just about every single pair of underwear he owns. All at once. Looked like a sumo wrestlers butt on a bean pole. Funny, yes, but timing was terrible. My point is, I don't think it's possible to just take everything entertaining away so that his room will just be for sleep.
The worst part of this whole deal comes when the insomnia starts creeping up on me. The worst was years ago, before I had kids. I had about six weeks where the longest stretch of sleep I got was three hours. I would maybe doze off for 15 minutes here or there, but it was awful. The last week, before medication brought me back to the real world where sleep is necessary, I had less than three hours of sleep for the whole week. Since kids, I go through phases. I just can not lie down and fall asleep. I have mom-paranoia. I hear every noise. I have a boy with growing pains (yes, doctors, if you can't name it and it's pain only in his legs only at night time... I'm going to call it growing pains.) He's got me up at least twice a week. Angel Baby wakes up about twice a week, sometimes playing sometimes crying. (Sometimes screaming like a horror movie!) The trucker goes to work anywhere between 2 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. It changes every day. A year ago, I never heard him leave. This summer I've heard him every single day. I don't hear his alarm, I hear him moving.
Monday night, I was wide awake until almost 5. I had to drive hubs to his truck at 6:30. I rested from 5 til 6. Drove him and came home. At 7 am, I was still awake. I stayed in bed until about 10 but it wasn't much sleep. More staring at the walls than anything. I have a prescription in the cupboard for times like this, but it has to be taken at the same time every day. And since I don't have any way of knowing when Art will go to sleep, I can't do it. I can't go to bed if he's awake, when I have tried, he has stayed up as late as 3 am.
I have a small window around 11 pm that I can fall asleep easily in. With Art keeping me up until nearly midnight, I pass the window almost every day. With a babysitter or a sleep over, I can crawl in bed when I am tired and get to sleep quickly. Without? Lets say he falls asleep at 11:45, I can crawl in bed and toss and turn like clockwork until 2. Part of the reason I just started doing more work during the night, part of the reason I blog most around midnight. I figure if I have to be up, I'm gonna make use of the time. I am not supposed to stay in bed when I can't sleep. If it takes more than 20 minutes, I'm supposed to get up and do something. I can't keep jumping up and bugging the trucker, either.
I'm hopeful that school will put us back in order. I know he's not going to magically start falling asleep earlier, but I will be forced to get him up earlier in the morning. He will be forced to go to bed at bedtime and maybe if I send him at 8, he'll be asleep by 10. Still an improvement. If I can be in bed by 11, I can get up well rested.
Who am I kidding? I won't. I've always functioned best at night. But at least I won't have anyone to blame but me. I won't be furious about someone else making me stay up. I won't be fighting for those hours. If I want to go to sleep at 11, I'll be able to. That's all. I'm tired of this battle of wills, I'm just tired.