motherhood

Zombie Mom

I love you, Goodnight. Sleep Tight!

Yeah Right.

That line is only good for my husband in this household. Cuz ain’t nobody else sleeping around this joint.

I haven’t slept through the night in FOUR YEARS. I’ve either been pregant, nursing a newborn, dealing with sleep training, pregnant again, etc. Zombie life is actually my new norm. But despite having learned how to get through my day, my life, on constantly interrupted sleep, four years later I still can give Oscar the Grouch a run for his money.

I think most people will come back at me and say that was my own fault/choice for having three kids back to back. I’d like to come back at them with, go screw yourself.

Whether you have three kids or one kid – every parent has struggled with this issue at some point. We all love parenthood, and love all the joys our children bring to our world. But man, why the heck can they not just sleep through the night?!

I have worked so hard on Aiza (4) and Rania’s (2) bedtime routine over the years. At the beginning of last year I finally hit the magic formula and things had become significantly better for a while. Here it is roughly:

6 p.m.: Dinner.

6:30 p.m.: Bath time

6:45 – 7:15 p.m.: Playtime with Dad

7:15 p.m.: Story time. Each girl gets to choose one book, but they both listen to it together, cuddled with us on the sofa.

7:45 p.m.: Use the bathroom, change diapers, brush teeth, get tucked in.

8 p.m.: I read a little bit of Quran to them. (You can insert Bible stories, or other moral/value building time here).

I leave them with milk, which they almost always drink. And then, we say goodnight.

The night starts off great because the girls put themselves to sleep. I then have just Zahra to deal with, because she doesn’t go down for the night until 10 p.m. We generally watch TV, I work on blog posts, and we relax while she plays on her own around us. Once she’s down, and we ourselves are getting ready for bed, the real fun begins.

Aiza has been having night terrors since I became pregnant with Zahra. So she’s usually the first to wake up screaming/crying or running into our room with her heart racing and whimpering requests to sleep in our bed. If we are fortunate, the baby sleeps through this charade, and thankfully we are fortunate often. The hubs is ultra blessed by God and doesn’t wake up at these incidents either.  I then give Aiza a hug, let her lay with me for a few minutes until her heart rate goes back to normal, and then we tiptoe back to her bed. We do the standard tuck in procedure but as quietly as possible so as not to wake up Rania.

About 30 minutes to an hour later, Rania wakes up for one of two reasons.

(1) Aiza’s shenanigans have disturbed her, so she makes the most of it by taking a stroll to our room, since that’s the thing to do. This one drives me mad.

(2) She’s having growing pains. Like literally. She wakes up crying and I just sit and massage her arms and legs and she eventually falls asleep. This is real. The doctor confirmed it. And because she is my underweight baby, I can imagine that her weak little limbs get tired from a busy day and that her muscles really do ache from growing. So as much as I miss my sleep – my heart hurts for my baby and I can deal with this wake up.

Now to be fair, Rania sleeps through the night a majority of the time. But I’m just re-capping my crazier nights with the girls.

Anyway, after two wake ups already, by the time I fall asleep again, I get a solid hour or two before we are in the middle of the night and it’s time for Zahra to wake up. Some nights she needs to nurse, and others she’s just waking up out of habit and I have to pat or rock her back to sleep. As as third time mom you would expect that I have issues like these under control, but she’s always been such a good sleeper that I hate the idea of having to sleep train her and make her cry it out over just one wake up a night. She’ll eventually get over this and she’s only my baby for a little bit longer. So I just let it go.

Which would be fine and dandy except an hour later AIZA IS BACK. It’s around 4:30 a.m. and once she wakes up, naturally her body feels the need to use the restroom too. And after that she’s wide awake and anxiety about having to go back to her room instead of sleeping with mommy creeps back up. So it is a production to get her to go back. “Yes, it will be morning soon.” “Yes, you can come wake me up if something scary happens.” “Yes, I love you so so much.” “No, I will not get mad if you come back.” Even though I will. Because by this point, monster mom is out. I often find myself yelling at her to get out of my room and go back to bed. Most days it works. Other days I feel guilty as heck, run after her to hug her, and quietly tuck her back in.

BUT SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON AROUND HERE. My kids learned how to chew solid food, how to walk, how to brush their teeth… so why can’t they learn how to sleep?!

I’ve tried all of the following methods:

-lavender mist on their pillows

-tiring them out right before bedtime with physical activity

-feeding them A LOT so their bellies are nice and full

-reading stories before bedtime to calm them down

-reading prayers before bedtime to make them feel safer

-laying with them for a few minutes to help them get into the sleepy zone

-both Aiza and Rania were sleep-trained at age 1 using the CIO method

– nightlights and light up dream pets

-trying different blankets to make their beds cozier

-different fan settings for temperature adjustments

-pep talks about sleeping through the night

-M&M rewards first thing in the morning for those who do

-separating the girls into different bedrooms

I mean seriously, you name it, I think I’ve tried it. I have found that from the tactics I’ve tried above, some nights something will work wonders and for a few days or weeks everyone sleeps peacefully. And then we are right back at square one. So what’s the solution?

How about just accepting it for what it is and moving on?

Really. This is just a normal part of motherhood. Some kids sleep through the night. Some don’t. God just happened to send all the ones that don’t to my house! Lol.

I try not to stress about it too much anymore. Mind over matter. Kids go through all sorts of phases at this age. While Aiza can at least communicate to me what’s bothering her, Rania and Zahra still can’t. So I do what I can to make them comfortable and to reinforce that night time is for sleeping in your own bed. Eventually everyone learns to sleep through the night, right? My girls will too. But until then – I focus on what I CAN control and that is to do what I can to get through each day. I nap any and every opportunity I can get. I make smoothies to get through energy lows in the day. I try to go to the gym, even if for only 20 minutes, to boost my energy. I don’t do the laundry and dishes. I don’t clean the playroom. I don’t volunteer at the children’s school. I accept any and all offers for help. And I pray pray pray that I get to taste the sweetness of a good night’s sleep soon.

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PS – if your children do not sleep through the night and you have not yet read Adam Mansbach’s Go the F*** to Sleep book, it’s hilarious and you NEED TO OWN IT. Check it out at the link.

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