So I bet you think I’m talking about myself?
Me being chronically exhausted is a given. I have been tired since two months before I gave birth to my son, when I started being too enormous and hot and just plain uncomfortable to do anything in bed but lie awake and MOOOOAN about how enormous/tired/uncomfortable I was.
That was 5 years ago.
So yes, I’ve accepted the fact that I will be tired for the rest of my life… or at least until the Peanut is potty trained, so I’m giving myself at least 3 more years of utter exhaustion, to which I will gain a slight reprieve and then I will be exhausted all over again when they turn into teenagers and I’m up all night waiting for them to come home.
Holy shit was THAT a run on sentence or what???
But no, I am not talking about myself.
I am talking about that specimen of child, the no-napper. The no-napper was a rare best in our house because my almost 5 year old was still napping, at least every few days, until about a month ago. Then the napping stopped and the exhaustion set in. Now I have that all too common breed of kindergardener, who is SO exhausted but almost physically holds his eyes open in defiance. The one who denies being tired but then bursts into tears when you tell him that yes indeed, a touchdown is 6 points. (True story.) The one who starts to get overtired and is a total spaz, using words that should never come out of a human mouth, much less your child and is just plain NUTSO.
Who’s dealing with that now, raise your hand????
My sister-in-law and I were comparing notes the other day on our kids and we both agree that this age is SO hard. Dropping that nap can be such a gnarly transition because both our children are exhausted, but just can’t quite get onto a schedule that will get them the maximum amount of sleep they need. Oh how I wish his teenage self could come back and explain to him how GLORIOUS sleeping really is. Until then, I have some tips on keeping your exhausted child sane. Or relatively so anyway.
1) Stick with the routine…
I’m terrible at this. When all hell breaks loose and the Big Kid is just a monster I usually lose my shit and send him to bed without books or a song, our usual routine. This is a poor parenting choice and I KNOW it. Routine helps them calm down, helps them get back into the swing of things and helps their body prepare for (hopefully) a good night’s rest.
2) Limit the Boob Tube…
I hate letting him watch too much TV. Hate it. But sometimes letting your kids watch TV is just a necessary evil (at least in my house when I’m the only one putting everyone to bed)… the experts do say however to limit the amount of screen time before bed.This means no video games, no TV, no iPads, or whatever electronic device you might have. The stimulation can keep them awake LONG after they should be heading to the Land of Nod.
3) Accentuate the Positive…
So many times bedtime becomes a battle for us. The begging for five more minutes, the sound of him trying to become the next America Ninja Warrior off the foot of his bed (another true story), or the constant trips to the bathroom to get water. As much as I want to ROOOOOOOWR at him every time he comes out ( I mean it’s not like I’ve had any time to myself all day or anything), I really need to make bedtime a positive experience as opposed to a negative one. Offer snuggles if he stays in bed for five minutes (my kid is a chronic clock watcher) or add bedtime as one of the things he has to check off on his sticker chart. I’ve found that when I make bedtime a fun and positive experience, I have less of a time where I want to run screaming out the door. And there aren’t usually any tears either (on either of our parts).
4) Naps, or Quiet Time…
We aren’t taking naps anymore and it’s KILLING me. But I am trying to make him take down time, time to sit in his room and read a book or color, or just listen to music. I DON’T let him watch TV instead of napping because this kid would forgo anything to watch TV, but I find that if I at least get him to stay in his room quietly for an hour, things go a LOT better. I still wish I could make him sleep though, because those days are a precious GIFT of happiness.
5) Talk to Your Doctor…
I did this when the Big Kid was wandering the house in the middle of the night. I just didn’t think the behavior was normal at ALL and I was also concerned at how exhausted he seemed all the time. So I went to talk to the doc, who gave me the tips above and for our specific case*, recommended that we try melatonin to help him sleep. It seemed to at least get him some more sleep at night and eventually the nighttime basketball games in the side yard (true story #3) stopped. It reset his clock enough that he seemed to appear as if out of a fog. He was pleasant and fun to be around, sweet and loving all.the.time.
Since he dropped his nap though, we are back at square one. So I’ll be trying all of these things to get him to sleep at least an hour or two more at night or during the day, just so I can get my sweet boy back.
Because this chronically exhausted, overtired, and overly emotional child? Needs to go.
Do YOU have any great tips or tricks to get your child more sleep? Make sure to add them in the comments below because we all could use the help!!
*Just remember, this was our personal story. Do NOT give your child anything without the express consent of your pediatrician!!!*