wrote about the sleep issues that we were having with our toddler, Lucas. I briefly mentioned that we were also having issues with Max, and while we are making headway with him, too, I'm saving his explanation for another blog post. I am happy to report that things with Lucas are getting better, although slowly. BUT ... better.
My husband was out of town for about three weeks, and I was left alone with two children that basically hated sleep. Which was truly unfortunate because I LOVE SLEEP. Like, a lot. I selfishly miss the days of being able to go to bed whenever I want, wake up whenever I want, nap whenever I want ... etc. You get the idea. But, you know, parenting.
As I mentioned, Lucas has been improving, with some pretty major leaps & bounds. We no longer stay with him in his bed, or even in his room, until he falls asleep, something we had done for weeks on end. We are also back to a scheduled 8pm bedtime. He generally doesn't like it when we leave the room, but we have compromised with leaving the door open for him and our bedroom light on (which seeps into his room just enough). He will fuss for a minute, and may call out after a little while, but we don't even go to him, tell him he's fine, and tell him to just close his eyes. More often than not, I have used the "you don't have to go to sleep, but you need to lay here" line, which fools him just enough to think that he doesn't actually have to go to bed.
I battled the two hour scream fest for the first couple of weeks my husband was gone (something that had been going on for a month up until that point), until I remember that I had bought some Zarbee's night time cough syrup when we first got here, because Lucas was so sick, and was not sleeping well due to waking himself up at night. It had the smallest amount of melatonin in it, and we reluctantly gave it to him. Neither my husband or I are fans of melatonin, for the simple fact that it's a hormone, and there hasn't been a lot of research on it in children. People also mistake it for a sleep aid, which it is not. It simply helps to reset your clock, and helps your body say "oh hey, it's pitch black, I should sleep now." I have no issue with other people using it, and if you do, I promise I'm not getting all judgy on you. To each their own, ESPECIALLY when it comes to your kids! But in the past it wasn't for us.
Until I was averaging about three hours of sleep a night while solo parenting.
If you're not familiar with Zarbee's, it's awesome. It's a totally natural, honey-based cough syrup. There are no drugs in it, just all natural ingredients, so overdosing is impossible. So I broke down, out of pure desperation, and gave it to him. And for the first time in MONTHS, my kid was out cold by 8pm. And he slept the entire night.
It was a damn miracle.
I did this for a week, to help get him back on a normal, routine bedtime. It also helped keep him calm leading up to 8pm, so we were able to do our normal routine. Bath. Books. Snuggles. Lights out. I stopped using it about a week ago, and he is back to his normal schedule, all on his own. The hyperactivity is still there, although when he gets good sleep at night, it's not nearly as bad the next day. The amount of energy that this kid has is seriously high, so keeping him active has also been equally important, although doesn't always work. We have zero TV after the morning, unless it's raining out and we may watch a movie. But by dinner time it's off for good, we play and start the calming down process because it seriously takes THAT LONG to get him to a point where he's ready for bed. We use a sound machine (always have) and have dark curtains. I think, more than anything, he is becoming more comfortable with his bed and his surroundings, to realize that it really is his space.
We still deal with wake ups in the middle of the night. It's a 50/50 situation as to whether or not he will sleep all night, but with M home now, he has been tackling the toddler wakeups. Which, for me is a huge, huge help. It gives me a chance to focus on Max (my next blog post) and getting HIM on a normal sleep schedule that doesn't involve me waking up three or four times a night.
The past few nights have been good. I am not nearly as exhausted as I was last week (or previous weeks) and overall his attitude and behavior has been SO MUCH better than I mentioned in my previous post, confirming for us at least, that everything was sleep related. Hewe still naps during the day, although I do try to get him down as early as possible (closer to 12:30 or 1pm) to maximize the afternoon and give us plenty of time to be active. Some days napping doesn't happen, but on those days I make him play in his room by himself, and we make sure we are not at all sedentary, because come 4pm, if he sits down, he will pass out. As long as his behavior is good, we keep going and he gets a much earlier bedtime to make up for it.
All in all, huge, massive improvements. Which makes mommy very, very happy.