The Teaching Mum

A light-hearted look at parenting through the eyes of a very busy English Teacher.


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What Makes You Sleep Easy at Night?

I used to be an expert in sleep.

I would go to bed at 10pm and wake up refreshed the following morning at 6.50am.  I would sleep soundly and my dreams would often be pleasant, sometimes bizarre and always vivid.

I haven’t slept a full night since the 30th October 2011.

Now my sleep is fitful, broken and filled with night terrors that jolt me awake in the night.  Plus, upon waking with a sudden start, I disturb the snoozing little dude next to me.

Oh, I failed to mention that didn’t I?  We’re co-sleepers.

Reluctant ones.

I am no longer an expert in sleep.

Let me take you back; let’s regress.  Are you feeling sleepy yet?

My daughter turns four next week, and she is yet to put herself to bed.  She knows when it is bed time and she sleeps well now, but only if we read to her and lie with her until she falls asleep.

My partner was a stickler for the rules when my daughter was tiny.  He insisted that she remain in our bedroom until she was six months old.  She grew out of her Moses Basket very quickly and when I suggested moving her into her cot, he agreed.  I arrived home that evening to find that the cot had been dismantled and rebuilt in our tiny bedroom.  There it would remain for five more months.  When the magical six months arrived, true to his word, the cot was rebuilt in her room.  Only then she wouldn’t go in the damn thing.  When I suggested controlled crying, I was shot down instantly and was not allowed to do it.  I don’t know how I feel about controlled crying as I know it works for some and not others.  All I know was that I was willing to give it a go, was but never given the opportunity to do so.  There were times that I did leave her crying for ten minutes or so, but to add to the stress, arguments followed and tears (usually mine) were shed.  Before long we found a routine that worked for us; I gave my daughter a bottle on my bed, she fell asleep drinking it, I would move her to her cot where she would settle and sleep.  Anytime between the hours of 12 midnight and 3am she would wake, I would collect her from her cot (and bed from being aged two), she would play with her Daddy’s hair and fall back to sleep until the morning.  That worked for us.

Then the Dude was born.

Like his sister before him, his cot resided in our, now bigger, bedroom, but I was to suddenly sleep alone.  The Other Half decided to take the spare room as he was working and I was breast feeding.  My little man would wake every two or three hours, feed and go back to sleep in his cot (most of the time.)  ‘This one is a doddle!’ I thought.  Breast feeding was easy (I struggled, but persevered the first time round), bed time was okay and I was getting about six or seven hours sleep a night.  Sure it was broken sleep, but who cared? It was SEVEN hours!

Six months passed and once again, the cot was reassembled in my son’s newly painted bedroom.  Also, I was ready to stop breast feeding at six months and wanted to move onto a night bottle.  I thought it was going to be perfect.  I was wrong.  Very wrong.

Firstly, he refused the bottle and I ended up feeding him to sleep.  When he finally did take a bottle, he often threw it up all in an Exorcist style way all over my bed (I haven’t referred to it as ‘our’ bed for a while now), his clothes and my spotty purple M&S Pyjamas.  Being told to ‘keep it down’ while changing the sheets, myself and my son only added to my stress.  No help was offered from my partner as he had to lie with the girl until she fell asleep… You’re rolling your eyes at me, aren’t you?

Eventually, the formula started to stay down and after rolling, flipping and crawling the length and breadth of my bed every night, my little dude falls asleep on my covers and I move him into his cot.  Sometimes (most times – damn you Twitter) I get the timing wrong and just as I place him into his cot, he cries and thrashes around.  Reluctantly, I return to my bed, feed him back to sleep (oh yes, breast feeding didn’t end as planned), and there he remains surrounded by pillows that act as barriers and the baby monitor.  My partner and I take it in turns to dash up the stairs at lightning speed every time we hear a rustle, burp or fart!  More often that not, it reaches 9.30pm and the boy wakes.  That is usually the signal that my night has come to a close; I run upstairs and feed him back to sleep and fitfully snooze myself.

His super power is that he can survive on two hours sleep a night.

If only that was it for the night.
I can almost set my clock by him.

Every two hours he wakes and uses me as his human dummy.  Now, I can see you rolling your eyes at me again.  Yes, I will admit that I am lazy by not getting up and for doing the good old tried and tested lay down night feed, but I am exhausted as I work full time in a demanding job. I also don’t want to wake the girl or find myself in another midnight argument with my Other Half.  Heaven forbid I disturb his snoozing in the spare room.  I’ll admit I love the bond between me and my little man, but I miss my evenings, I miss waking up feeling refreshed, I miss my bizarre but pleasant dreams, I miss not sharing my bed with my partner, but most of all, I miss sleep.  According to Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, Sleep heels.  And I don’t feel heeled at the moment and I don’t feel quite whole.

So that’s why the ‘sleep experts’ are visiting us next week during half term.  Having already spoken to one of the ladies, she told me that before they visited I had to set the ball rolling as it were. I had to allow my son to fall asleep his own room (fail – check the picture) and then no matter what, I was not to remove him from his cot and feed him back to sleep. As I am typing this, I am IN his cot having fed him back to sleep (half-fail? He was distraught!)

The sleep experts are not going to be happy with me next week.

When they call next week and tell both my partner and I to expect a few sleepless nights as we sleep train our son, we will nod and we will agree, but deep down we will know what we, in truth, will probably end up doing. (Arguing and caving in, if you didn’t already guess.)

As I write this now, I am laying in a cot next to my sleeping boy. I started writing this post at 7.30pm and he was awake at 7.50pm. I let him cry himself back to sleep and he subsequently woke up three more times. Finally, at 9pm I broke and went upstairs. My partner and I had begun to watch the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’, but have had to abandon it. I feel myself that I am beginning to resemble a zombie extra from the series – you know, one of the ones that have been going since Rick’s coma days. The ones that have their jaws exposed, their eyes protruding and no longer have noses. Only my fringe has grown out and I have unnecessary milk in my boobs.

As soon as I hit ‘publish’ on this post and climb from the cot, the boy is going to wake. You and I both know that I’ll lift him crying and place him in my bed where stops sobbing and where he falls asleep for two hour periods.

I may be a failure when it comes to getting my children to sleep.

I may no longer be an expert in sleep.

But, I strive to do the best for my family and, for now, it is this.

This is what makes me sleep easy at night, even if it is only for two hours.

Just look at those PJs!

I wrote this on the 24th October and it first appeared on Meet Other Mums 

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Mami 2 Five


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Cot Watch

Good evening,

It is Friday 24th July and it is 8.30pm.  Hello and welcome to ‘Cot Watch Live’.

What is Cot Watch, you ask?  Well, basically it is me upstairs watching a cot.  I can almost hear the TV producers banging down my door.  This week the Ninja Flippin’ Dude has officially been the Snottiest Boy on Earth and being the soft mum that I am, he has been sleeping with me.  Well, no more!  I vowed that over the summer holidays I would get the boy off the boob and in his own bed.  I will have over seven hours of sleep in 2015, by God, I will.

What you need for Cot Watch:

  •   A baby (pictured.)

  • A cot (pictured.)

 

  • A V-Tech thing that plays music in pink (it once belonged to the girl and failed miserably at getting her to sleep in her own cot. Pictured.)

 

  • My favourite purple M&S dressing gown (pictured.)

 

  • Formula made up and a flask all ready to go
  • A glass of red wine (pictured.)

 

  • A boob (thankfully, not pictured.)

I am just going to hold it there as it has been at least ten minutes and he hasn’t cried.  I am worried.

*Grabs iPhone and switches on torch.*

Okay, I have checked and he is still asleep and still breathing.  I had to use stealth like movements as every bloody floor board in this house creaks.  Upon arriving at the cot, I had to take a moment as the blood was pounding in my ears and I struggled to hear his long deep breaths.  But, don’t worry, I am back and have just taken a big gulp of wine to calm my nerves.

It all started so calmly at 6.45pm this evening.  We had finished our haute cuisine of spaghetti hoops, oven chips and fish fingers (we all ate this as tomorrow is The Big Shop) and suddenly bath time was upon us once again.  I ran the bath for the girl and got the boy ready for bed.  After ten minutes or so, the Other Half came into the bathroom, tagged me out (in a WWE Wrestling kind of way) and I was allowed into our room to start Operation Bed Time.  The lights were dim, the formula was made and warm, the Dude was snuggled in his all in one and laying next to me.  I removed the bottle lid.  He drank.  This is a small victory in itself as he often likes to play with the teat, push the bottle away, stand up and shout: ‘Woman! Give me boob!’  Okay, okay, so maybe not that last two, but that’s totally what is going on in his tiny little head.  His little eyes started to glaze over as the milk started to warm his little tum.

Across the hall in the girl’s room, I could hear the Other Half’s frankly brilliant way of settling her down for bed.  And by ‘frankly brilliant’, I mean sh*t.  Since having the boy back in January, my nose has been well and truly pushed out of the girl’s bedtime routine; I am lucky these days if I get a kiss, a cuddle and a slap around the chops before she goes running off into her room shouting the words “It’s activity time, Daddy!”  Ah yes, Activity Time.  What a great way to get your three year old ready to enter the land of nod.

This is what you need for Activity Time:

  • A Dad (or any parent) who is a glutton for punishment
  • A three year old child
  • The ability to lift the three year old child by her legs and swing her around upside down
  • The strength to then grab both the three…

…9.18pm – The boy has woken…

…9.36pm and I am back.  I sung Twinke Twinkle four times, shoved the V-Tech thing back on, stroked his hands, got my hand caught in his vice like grip, read ‘Just a Normal Mummy’s’ latest hilarious blog post (that made me question my not so hilarious one and my ability to write in general), escaped from the death grip and rolled (yes, rolled) out of his room.  And here we are.

*Drinks another mouthful or red wine*

Right, where was I?

  • The strength to then grab both the three year old’s arms and legs together and then swing her up and down
  • A bed strong enough for a three year old to bounce on for ten minutes
  • An iPad with Barbie: Life in the Dream House on or ‘Super Why’  for when you feel guilty about not practising her letters with her that day and insist on an ‘educational programme’

Yes, it’s no wonder she takes ages to get to bloody sleep.  We made a rod for our own backs there.

Luckily for me, the sound of Barbie and Ken chuckling over who had the plastic pox (a doll ailment apparently) did not seem to bother the boy and he continued to doze and drink his milk.  After a few minutes, the teat was released and I secretly cursed him for only drinking four of the seven fluid oz as I knew that the boob may well have to make an appearance.  Like I was holding the finest bone china, I carried him to his cot and placed him in.  His eyes opened.  He looked at me and immediately I knew that holding eye contact was a big mistake.  His eyes glazed again and shut.  I did a little shimmy and a fist bump and the damn floor board creaked.  He woke, he flipped and he cried.  Crap.

Controlled crying commenced for at least three minutes and forty three seconds before I broke, returned him to my room and used the boob and five minutes later he was snoozing again.  Once again, ninja like, I moved him from my room and into his cot.  Guess what?  You already know the answer.  He flipped and cried.  The V-Tech thing went on, I sat down and stroked his back.  After ten minutes or so he fell asleep so I ran down stairs sterilised a bottle, boiled the kettle, poured some wine, grabbed the lap top and told the Other Half all about my ‘Cot Watch’ plan.  “Good idea,” he said.  “Best get up there straightaway before he wakes again.”  Ah, how we love spending our evenings together…

And so it is now 10.01pm and I realise that I am missing a trick here.  The boy is asleep and has been for the best part of an hour if we ignore the 9.18pm blip.  I should be sleeping too and not typing away on this lap top.

Happy Friday night folks! Good night.

I’ll just go check on him again. *Grabs iPhone*

I also need to bring the bottle and formula up from down stairs.

And finish my wine.

And add the photos to the post.  I’m not going to sleep any time soon am I?

Thank you for joining us for Cot Watch. Same time tomorrow? No, I thought not.

Domestic Momster
Mami 2 Five

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