Monday, 17 February 2014

Fending off the Sandman

There are 24 hours in a day and almost a third of that time is spent on sleeping. It is the time for our body to reboot, regenerate and prepare itself to tackle a new dawn. A good night's sleep promises a more active and alert you, so you will be more efficient and effective in executing your daily tasks with less stress and screams.

It is almost like a dominos effect; proper sleep increases energy levels - you are more productive in completing a task - you will have more time on your hands - increased chances of another good night's sleep next time we go to bed and repeat.

I've noticed that with proper sleep I am merrier, less irritable and am able to tackle any tribulation with a sound frame of mind. This sanity accords me the space to fan out my thoughts before trying to solve the distress, instead of hurling painful words and feeling bad about it afterwards because I know the power of words.
Image taken from Wikipedia website
Sleep is important for children too, as it directly impacts their mental and physical development. Getting proper sleep also promises your child to be lot more pleasant and calm.
It also help them to stay focused during playing and learning, and prevent fatigue-induced trips and falls — as well as boost their immune system. I kid you not, I have personally experienced my eldest child who knocked into walls or tripped while walking in my living room when she was sleep deprived.

It is no wonder why parents use the word cranky or too sleepy to describe their children's difficult and unpleasant behaviour. I too have named lack of sleep as the culprit for my child's unpleasant behaviour. My toddler becomes a walking, ticking time boom whenever she doesn't get her 12-14 hours sleep. (That's 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep and a nap, if I am lucky!). However, that hasn't been the case lately and I need to quickly fix this.

Playing mummy with her 'baby'-teddy and getting teddy ready for bed

If you don't take my words on how important sleep is, Google it and you'll find so many websites and organisation that are dedicated to help parents like me, learn how to handle sleep matters. There are also Sleep Foundations which offers details such as the amount of hours an infant, baby, toddler and pre-schooler needs, to tips and advice on sleep issues.

My soon to be 2 years old angel has suddenly (for the past 4 months) decided that she hates to sleep. Any mention or indication of sleep gets her worked up and she will come up with ingenious ways to battle sleep time.

This sort of behaviour is expected so it's good to know that she is doing what children her age do.
Which brings me to this question: Is the infamous "terrible twos" ignited by insufficient sleep?

I think it does play a role because with baby #1, I was by-the-book parent. Following every rule stated, in bringing up my child and placed so much importance on sleep as though her life depended on it. But with child #3, I got a little too lenient and am feeling her wrath due to lack of sleep.

My once angelic and calm baby (she was the calmest baby) has become very difficult to deal with whenever she does not get enough sleep. I too get overly sensitive and cranky when I don't get my dose of beauty sleep.

The solution to this problem is quite simple, ensure your child gets enough sleep but it's said than done.

My simple "go to bed" instruction never worked. Not even with my elder kids and they still require me to be in the same room as them before they can drift off to slumber land.

Not wanting to repeat the same fate with my toddler, I set out to search some professional help in combating sleep related hiccups.

Fending off the Sandman

Sandy, from Rise of the Guardians, an animated fantasy film by DreamWorks

(Toddler sleep problem: my battle and review of expert advice)

Expert advice#1: Make sleep time their suggestion because it's in a toddler's job description to say "NO!" and anything suggested by mummy is usually not a good idea.

So to let them believe that it's their idea to say that it's bedtime, let her choose which pyjama, soft toy & story book they will be taking to bed.

Trouble : it turned into a battle because my toddler is a good negotiator and has the will power and physical strength to cry it out!

She decided mid way she didn't like her pyjama and changed numerous times.

Result: I was left with more clothes to fold and arrange for the night.

The same happened with the storybook. Mid way reading her story to her, she decided she didn't like it and kept requesting for another book.

Result: mummy loses her cool, toddler loses it, pages got ripped off books and flying everywhere in the room. Mummy resorted to threat with a thundering scream, toddler got scared and drifted off to sleep while crying sadly and mummy runs down to find comfort in food.

Expert feedback: Extend the pyjama and book selection process way before bedtime and stick by it and ensure there no other storybooks lying around in her bedroom.

Expert advice #2: They don't want to miss a thing.

My toddler needs all of us to be in the room with her before she can go to bed. Otherwise she will stay awake, in bed, in her dark room singing and calling out for her sisters. So I relented and everyone was forced to drop whatever they were doing and jump into bed or lay on the floor, pretending to sleep while she did her check-rounds by bouncing on each one of us to see if we were still awake.

Result: household chores don't get done and my bed time gets pushed further into the wee hours of the day.

Expert feedback: Give her own room and only have a small bed enough to accommodate her.

Expert advice #3: They miss me (A LOT)

This is my biggest sleep problem. My elder two would do fine without me during the day but at night, they would miss and need me terribly. So while I am struggling to help the toddler drift off to dreamland, they take turns walking into the room for a hug, a kiss and a cuddle.

Result: Toddler doesn't want to sleep because she thinks mummy is scheming with her elder siblings to go downstairs and play with her toys or watch cartoon. Mummy gets a little upset with the disruptions and her numerous  hugs, kisses and gentle whispers turn into coarse threats, making everyone unhappy.

Expert feedback: I should refrain lying in bed with my children. Instead I should tuck them in bed, say good night and wait in the hallway. If one of them walk out of their room, tuck them back in and leave. Keep doing this until they eventually stop coming out or get tired or drift off to sleep.

So here I am, sitting in the hallway for the past hour. Jotting this down as I wait for them to fall asleep. If you've got a better solution or going through what I am, please share with me. It would be good to know, I am not alone and that you'll never walk alone.

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