Friday, November 21, 2008

NaBloPoMo Day 21: Insomniac

Not me. I sleep just fine. I live with a three-year-old insomniac and I am losing my goddamned mind.

The kid is getting up every night somewhere between six and twenty times, between bedtime at 8:00 and 4 a.m. It usually starts two minutes after we tuck him in at night, and continues roughly every ten to fifteen minutes or so for an hour. He always has some totally surreal excuse for being out of bed, like "I have fingernails" or "I need my bike." Finally, after a few of those, Dan or I loses our mind totally, yells at the kid, and sends him back to bed in tears. We're sincerely thinking of doing the lose our mind and yell thing immediately when putting him to bed in the hopes that being yelled at is somehow what's keeping him in bed.

Then sometime between midnight and 3 a.m., we begin to experience what I refer to as "The Night Visitor." I'll open my eyes and he'll be standing at the foot of my bed, stroking my foot through the blankets and sheets. Then he'll crawl up between Dan and I and under the blankets, and then he'll spend as much of the rest of the night as we will allow him to get away with tossing, turning, prodding, pushing, kicking, and otherwise harassing Dan and I. Sometimes we let him stay and ignore him as best we can, being too tired to fight him down the stairs and into bed. Sometimes we let him stay and one or the other of us can't ignore him and ends up in the living room on the couch. Sometimes we frog-march him back to his room and back into bed.

Last night was terrible, totally awful. He got up maybe five times, then at 2 this morning, there he was. He complained that he was cold. Sure, in your footie pajamas with the sheet, down comforter, and four blankets on your bed. We let him stay until Dan got tired of being kicked in the kidneys, took him back to bed, and then stretched out on the couch for an hour or so. When he came back, he mumbled to me, "I think he's out."

Alas, at 3:39, there he was again. I took him downstairs this time, put him back into bed, and laid down on the couch. Not ten minutes later, there he was. "What's the problem?" I asked him.

"I have earwax," he said.

I sighed. "Lay down on the couch with me."

He did, and then he wiggled, tossed, turned, and generally drove me completely crazy until about 4:40, at which point I took him back to bed, where he remained for the rest of the night. All 20 minutes of it.

The kid is exhausted, totally bonkers out of his mind tired, and employing every conceivable method to keep himself awake. Dan and I are both totally bonkers out of our minds tired too, but Max gets a nap during the day and we don't. I'm falling asleep on the couch at about 9 every night, and Dan typically catches a nap in the same spot while I'm making dinner. It's a very comfortable couch.

It's becoming pretty disruptive to our life, and I don't have a clue what to do, so if you've got kids, please please please tell me how you keep them from getting out of bed at night. We do all the things you're supposed to do--we have a ritual, he gets a non-sugary, non-disruptive snack and a drink of water before bed, we institute quiet play or TV watching half an hour before bed to give him time to wind down. But it isn't making a dent in the fact that he is just totally incapable of sleeping through the night, suddenly, three years after he initially started to do it. If you have any advice, I would be happy to hear it.


Kimberly said...

I have no advice, as I am also up most of the night these days. I'm just really thrilled to know I'm not the only one having miserable nights. Last night was a little better for me though, since as punishment, Michael had to deal with the baby all night. We had a bottle ready, so Michael had to do it all. Punishment for what, you ask? Well, stop me if you've heard it, but he was backing out of our driveway and ... No, not a garbage truck this time, but my mother's car instead. Molly, I seriously lost my everloving mind, just totally blew. We were on our way to my stepmother's funeral for crying out loud. I did not need this. So just know that as you're up all night tonight, you are not alone. Feel better? No, I didn't think you would.

Alto2 said...

Greetings from another non-hipster mom (of 3 boys) and fellow NaBloPoMo'er. I was browsing around the blogroll and found you.

Is your son waking up from nightmares? If so, does he have a "lovie" (or favorite stuffed animal or blanket) that you can encourage him to cuddle for a while? Is his room too hot or too cold for him? Those footie pj's are great in theory, but the feet do get cold. Try putting a light pair of socks on underneath the footies.

Other thoughts: maybe that nap is interfering with his sleep at night. Is there anyway to eliminate it one day (trial only) to see what happens the following evening. Have you read Ferber's book on Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems. It has helped lots of families over the years.

When you get a little time, stop by my blog and say hello.

Anonymous said...

My kids are well grown up now (18 and 23) but I had a lot of sleepless nights. The only book out there was "How To Solve Your Children's Sleep Problems" by someone Ferber. Yeah, I bought it! And I did it. And after a rough week people slept. It worked for me. There may be people who thinks it's not the answer but all I can say is it worked for me and I had serious non-sleeping kids. The big thing I did wrong was letting them fall asleep WITH me in the room. Every time they woke up, they sought to recreate the conditions under which they'd fallen asleep (usually me singing lullabyes and trying not to weep myself from lack of shut eye). Good luck. It does get better. Hang in there.

Treen said...


This is why I don't have kids, because that is the first thing that pops into my head.

My dog learned immediately that mommy is much more pleasant when you wait there silently for her to wake up on her own.