Sleep – the final frontier

Sleep eh? Can’t live without it and you can’t live without it!  If you have young children, you’ll be very familiar with the musical beds circus that happens on some dark and stormy nights in the family home.  This story first appeared on This Charming Mum last year and a version can be found here at Mamamia.com.au.  I’m reposting it today to link up with The Lounge.  Hope it makes you laugh!

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We are gathered here today to say our final goodbyes to sleep. We have had some wonderful times together over the years, but sadly sleep has now departed our little home, seemingly never to return. Rest in peace, old friend. Goodness knows someone may as well be getting some rest.

I have three children – 5, 3 and a newbie – and there are several things that changed on the arrival of that third child: squeezing in an extra car seat, increasing the shopping budget and scheduling parental quality time, for example.  Having three children brings a lot of laughter to a home, but is a big challenge if all the little people are simultaneously needy  –  like when everyone is hungry, or snotty, or doing a merry dance around their strewn shoes as you’re hurrying them out the door. But the biggest hurdle in our house has been to have everyone asleep at the same time, and preferably at night.

Any normal child has the odd occasion when the shadows morph into monsters or their tummy hurts for no good reason. Babies, of course, need to learn how to manage their rest patterns. We, as understanding parents, have done our best to comfort and teach; but parents get tired, veeeery tired, and they don’t always get that teaching right. From the moment our first darling daughter arrived we expected there to be nights of broken sleep, but I’m now beginning to think our kids have surreptitiously worked out a roster. They punch in and out, ensuring night long games of musical beds and day long games of poke-the-zombie.  Even the notion of a solid, restful sleep has pretty much left the building.

Take this morning. The baby boy woke up screaming at 3am. My husband had already done a marathon shift consoling Miss 3 as she’d cried her way through a combination of bad dreams and a stuffy nose at bedtime, so it was my turn to get up. I worked with the stealth of a Ninja, slipping from my room into the nursery, dodging scattered toys with gymnastic agility. I swiftly scooped up the baby, replaced his dummy and started rocking and bouncing as if I was having a mild seizure. When this motion inspired nothing but giggles, I took him to bed with me. Not in my own bed, you understand, because Miss 5 was already snuggled into my warm chalk outline, having been woken by the baby’s cries. Unfortunately trying to silence a baby in the wee hours is a bit like coming home late after too many sauv blancs: the harder you work at being quiet, the more likely you are to knock over something loud and clattery at precisely the worst moment.

So into Miss 5’s bed I went to make myself comfortable in the pink princess doona, with a unicorn pillow under my head and a baby nestled into the crook of my arm. I patted the baby’s precious bot until he started to settle down, even as the nerves in my contorted neck emitted a strangely rhythmic twanging sound.  Just as the baby relaxed with a welcome heavy sigh, I saw fit to rearrange my pillows (did someone say deckchairs on the Titanic?) and promptly fell out of bed.  I lay on the floor, winded, holding my son aloft like a scene from the Lion King, and looking up at the little glow-in-the-dark stars on my daughter’s ceiling like a cartoon character who’s just been taken out by an anvil. I pondered getting a bit of bench press action with my now wide awake 10 kilo weight. At least it would justify the bucket of coffee and upsized-something-or-other I would be buying after the school run in order to get through the rest of my day.

So I say to you all, appreciate sleep while it is still in your life. It is too late to tell it how much you love it once it’s gone.

 

 

20 comments for “Sleep – the final frontier

  1. October 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Ah sleep, I remember it well. My sleep has been so broken by my despotic children that I’d go as far as to say that it has been smashed, glued back together and smashed again just for fun. Then kicked in the gut, stoned, set fire to and buried, before having its grave danced merrily upon. Hang in there… I think they get the hang of it by around 32 😉

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Oh that’s the most perfect description ever! They certainly get into the merry dancing – no remorse whatsoever. Roll on 32!

  2. October 17, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Ohh sleep how I miss thee. Mr 4 stayed at my parents for the school holidays and the sleep I got was glorious. I miss it now, oh how I miss it!

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Oh that must have been wonderful! With 3 kids even our parents don’t offer to have them all overnight very often, but it’s all the more precious when we do get a night alone. I just love the feeling of waking up when I feel like it – not when one of the mini alarm clocks smacks me in the face!

  3. October 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Oh this made me laugh – I have SO BEEN THERE! We still play musical beds, with a 2, 3.5 and 5-year-old – usually it’s the 2-year-old in our bed, or 3.5 has done a wee in bed or 5.5 has had a bad dream!!!!!!! The only difference is my hubby usually sleeps through it all. And I have so made WAY MORE NOISE than my kids stumbling home after a few too many savs xxx

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      Yes, our 2 year old ends up in our bed most nights at the moment. Usually not till about 4am though, when I’m absolutely too sleepy to protest. He’s got me totally sussed!

  4. October 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    LOL. This is the second sleep related, or lack thereof, post this week! The lack of sleep definitely sends us bonkers! Thanks for linking with The Lounge. Robo X

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Yes, it’s certainly a common trait of life with young kids. Although a mother of teens also told me that when they’re older you just lie there awake wondering where they are. It NEVER ENDS!!! Thanks for hosting this week 🙂

  5. Lani
    October 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I lost sleep a while ago myself. I can’t think where I put it. I’ve searched high and low but it’s simply vanished. I’m hoping that like my spare set of car keys that disappeared 6 months ago and magically reappeared in a most unlikely place, so to will sleep find its way back to me.

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      I wish you the best for a reunion! My fear is that it might go the way of odd socks and pen lids – lost forever! Let’s hope not eh? 🙂

  6. October 17, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I think life would be better if ninjas just took over…

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      You make a good point!

  7. Me
    October 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    That is something that I really do appreciate now – sleep !!! Mainly because for about 16 or 17 years I would get, on average about 3-4 hrs sleep per night if I was lucky. Now I have found the secret of melatonin and no small child to wake me – it’s bliss !!!
    Hope you find some sleep soon !
    Have the best dya !
    Me

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Oh my goodness, 17 years!! It’s been about 7 for me, since being pregnant with my oldest but I’m hoping I don’t have another 10 to go! It’s quite amazing to think that I used to take sleep for granted.

  8. Phil
    October 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    With 4 young sleep thieves under 10 y.o. We are awaiting the luxury days of once again having a nice peaceful sleep. OK I lie, us dads still get the best deal by pretending, er sorry I meant sleeping through most of these shenanigans. This however does come at the expense of other night time “activities” that were once much more common, pre kids.

    Very funny and very true Lara.

    Phil

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      Sleep thieves indeed. If only I knew where they were stashing the loot I could raid it and retrieve all those lost hours!

  9. Leanne Winter
    October 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Oh I’m so glad I’ve left those young children night time shenanigans behind! Hang on, I don’t actually think I have. Ok, it has gotten a bit better as they’ve gotten older and it has been a while since I had to rock and bounce as though having a mild seizure (that one made me laugh out loud!)

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks Leanne. It’s hard work when they’re little. I’m please to hear it’s improved for you – at least a little bit!

  10. October 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I like the idea of ninjas creeping soundlessly through the dark of Brisbane trying to put zombie-poking children back to sleep. There’s probably a Jane Austen spin-off already.

    • This Charming Mum
      October 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Yes, when I can’t get back to sleep I like to close my eyes and count Darcys (zombie or otherwise).

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