The Nights Are Long…

At what stage does it become acceptable to throw your child in the bin?

I’m not talking blue bin or laundry bin here – I’m talking black wheelie bin, straight to landfill kind of clear out!

My little boy has been alive 835 days, and do you know how many nights we’ve had where bedtime hasn’t disintegrated into a battle ground where I’m left bruised and battered?

Being generous, I estimate 25.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m not a mathematician, but those aren’t great statistics.

In fact, it’s a measly 3% success rate and I am worn out by it all.

After all, if someone wrapped me up in a blanket with a bellyful of milk and whispered gently, ‘love you, sleep tight, see you in the morning,’, my response would be, ‘which morning?’.

I’ve tried turning lights off, I’ve tried keeping a night light on, I’ve tried closing the bedroom door and leaving him in darkness, I’ve tried leaving the hall light on with his bedroom door open.

I’ve tried a sleeping bag with sleeves, I’ve tried one without, I’ve tried different tog sleeping bags, I’ve tried a cot full of teddy bears and a completely empty cot.

I’ve tried warm baths, I’ve tried warm baths with lavender scented bubbles, I’ve tried cutting out sugar after dinner, I’ve tried singing to him, I’ve tried not singing.

I’ve tried rocking him, sitting still, stroking his head, playing with his hair, I’ve tried feeding him before he goes in his sleeping bag and I’ve tried feeding him once he’s all snuggled up.

I’ve tried co-sleeping (it definitely didn’t work as he just wanted to play), I’ve tried reading to him, I’ve tried leaving a longer space between dinner and bed.

I’ve tried high octane days of non-stop activities to try and tire him out, I’ve tried relaxing days in the house so he doesn’t get overtired, and everything in between.

I’ve tried shouting (I’m not proud), I’ve tried pleading, I’ve even tried crying, but still no joy.

Like every other mum desperate to get some rest, I’ve found myself sitting in the dark poring over Google on my mobile phone in the hope of discovering a magic cure on Google. But I found nothing, nada, zilch.

Most recently I thought that maybe he no longer needed his afternoon nap, so I cut that out.

But all that got me was a toddler who was manic by bedtime, with the same crazed glint in his eye as Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

So, I went back to putting him down for a short nap after lunch.

It seems to have helped things slightly, but I still find myself spending more than an hour every night sitting in darkness trying to cajole him to sleep.

Last night was a classic example – he lay there feeding, his little eyes crossing with exhaustion, it seemed like he was slipping into a glorious milky coma.

However, not even 10 seconds later, he was flapping his legs and laughing at me. My heart sank.

Apparently I was a dreadful sleeper as a young baby and I often wonder if this is my comeuppance.

Of course, I know that old phrase, ‘the nights are long, but the years are short’ and I try to tell myself that every night.

But, do you know what?

It doesn’t help.

Yes, I know there will come a day when he doesn’t want to hold my hand anymore, when I won’t get a slobbery kiss on demand, where the thought of hugging his mum will horrify him.

It will be horrible, but that doesn’t mean that fighting with Ethan every night just to go to sleep can’t be horrible as well.

After all, I’m self-employed and most of my work is done at night when the kids are in bed.

But my start time can only be as early as Ethan finally nods off – and that can be as late as midnight sometimes.

It’s not fair on Grace either, as she has to tiptoe around her room so as not to disturb her brother, she gets scolded for making the smallest of noise, and it also means I don’t have the same time to spend with her at bedtime either.

And don’t get me started on the effect it has on my relationship with Mr S.

How can you possibly sit down and catch up with your other half at 11.30pm?

As for going out, if I am lucky enough to get a babysitter, I spend the whole time filled with anxiety at what is happening at home.

I know it’s a phase, that this problem will be replaced with another – most likely a battle to get him out of bed before lunchtime, or worse still, lying awake in bed wondering why he hasn’t come home yet.

But right now, this is the problem – and it’s driving me mad.

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