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The parenting Jinx.

This morning the parenting jinx feels very real and very cruel. I look like an extra from The Walking Dead, I feel like crap and the atmosphere at home this morning was less than joyous. I was hit smack in the face with the worst type of the parenting jinx – the sleep one.

If you have a child who has not yet fully been convinced that sleep is something to welcome and enjoy, you know what I mean. You try anything and everything in the pursuit of a couple of hours of shut eye, and when miraculously your little darling does indeed bless you by sleeping a teeny bit better, you know to keep your mouth shut. The moment you deviate from this rule, you break the magic. Your little darling’s ears perk up, even when they are far, far away. They heard you, and they don’t like it. You dare to be PLEASED that you were denied a bit more of their wonderful awake presence?? Well little darling will correct that and things are right back to where they began. And the next time that friend asks you if whatever you did is still working, you are too tired to fully shake your head and hope the desperation in your eyes will answer for you.

My two-year old has been described by a lot of different words, among those of us who take care of him the following are very common – strong-willed, not-easy, determined, stubborn, strong, angry….. (and we’re being nice there). For the sake of balance I will of course say he is wonderfully cuddly, bright, engaging, loving and funny. When he’s in a good mood that is, and that isn’t always the case.

He doesn’t put his best side forward that often, and two years in we’re falling apart with the sleep deprivation. We have long since abandoned any hope of getting him to sleep in his own room and our bed is just his bed. In fact there isn’t even a cot or bed in his room anymore. We have given in and gone with what works (a little better) in the hopes that it will appease the toddler Gods. I listen to all suggestions of what I can try and recently embarked on a homeopathic remedy adventure with him.

Bazinga! It was working! It seemed like on the 1st January he just woke up happier in himself, he was more settled and content. He was just easier to mind, and he was sleeping better! No more waking every half hour in the evening, and the screaming fits that were a nightly occurrence vanished. We didn’t know ourselves! Not only were we getting more sleep but we were dealing with a more pleasant version on him too!

And then came the big mistake.

I told other people about it.

Big mistake.

Huge.

So now we are right back at 2016 levels of rage and sleep. Too much of one and not enough of the other. The parenting jinx doesn’t like smug parents being over excited about getting 4 hours of sleep in a row (in a row people!!! it was amazing) and it opened its jaws wide and bit me on the ass. The bite feels like something Jaws would have inflicted.

So read my tale of woe and consider yourself fore-warned. If it’s working, keep on doing it, but for the love of God don’t tell anyone else!

(Unless it really is working, then tell me because I could do with trying it……)

1

Holy Night Terrors Batman

I keep waiting for our sleep deprivation journey to turn a corner, eagerly anticipating the darkness (and sleep) at the end of the tunnel.  And sleep, did I mention sleep?

So you would expect that a change would be welcome!  You would be wrong.  The latest development has seen the introduction of night terrors into our nocturnal routine.

It seems our nights weren’t busy enough what with teething related waking, not wanting to sleep waking and just general “Is it not time to get up yet? waking.  Oh no, clearly we were missing something, and that something has presented itself in a horrifying spectacle of hysterical wailing, thrashing and tears.  And that’s just me.  My fiercely strong willed toddler has taken to, over the last couple of nights, experiencing night terrors.  At first I wasn’t sure if he was in pain (getting his back molars, at 19 months – yay for that..) or what was going on, as the screams were different and he was inconsolable.  He kept screaming for his dodi, while it was in his hand/mouth and nothing could calm him down.  So yesterday I looked into night terrors and it sounded like a match, so I was better armed last night when one erupted around 11pm.  The poor little pet was so distressed, but I could do nothing for him.  I tried to pick him up and calm him, but he fought me tooth and nail.  In the end there was nothing to be done but keep him safe and let it run its course.  When it ended, it ended as abruptly as it started and he curled up and conked out.  Meanwhile my husband and I were left dazed and staring at each other wondering what on earth was going on.

So it turns out that this is normal, he won’t remember it and the best thing to do is not touch him (as it can only distress him more as he can’t actually see me, even if he is calling for me) and just keep it safe and wait for the storm to pass.  It can be brought on by a number of factors like sleep deprivation (and he was already over-exhausted thanks to those teeth), genetics (and with both his parents susceptible to bouts of sleep talking and walking he didn’t stand a chance), disrupted routines and so on.

Like the back molars, the only silver lining on this cloud is that when they stop we are just glad it’s not happening any more.

Is it bedtime yet?

 

 

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Bed sharing with a toddler vs those first few nights with a new partner.

As I lay in bed last night (who am I kidding, as I hung on to the edge of the bed precariously and shivered as there wasn’t a square inch of duvet anywhere near me) I thought about how sharing a bed with a toddler is like those first few nights with a new partner.

  1. You wear something you imagine they will find attractive to bed, despite the fact that you might prefer a different nocturnal outfit yourself. However, the sexy undies are banished and fluffy pyjamas that are perfect for little heads to snuggle up against are in.
  2. You are nervous trying to sneak out to use the bathroom during the night. Not because you don’t want to remind them that you’re an actual person who does need to answer the call of nature, but because you are terrified that you will wake the sleeping monster.
  3. You sleep in positions that aren’t all that comfortable. While in the early days of a relationship that might mean keeping up the pretence you like to spoon as you sleep (when in fact you need to have your backs to one another to avoid having someone breathe on you), with a little person in the bed you discover that having feet, a nappy-clad bottom etc. positioned in your face is the norm. And you will put up with it if it means s/he stays asleep.
  4. You ideally want to wake before them and have a chance to get yourself “freshened up” before they see you for the first time that day. These days this means managing to make it to the bathroom to drag a brush through your hair, scrub your teeth and lather on some cream which promises to make you look ten years younger all before the all-demanding tyrant wakes.
  5. You go to bed at the same time and try to fit into their sleep habits. Gone are the nights of marathon book reading and not caring about having the light on. You go to bed together and stay in bed together. With a toddler this doesn’t have the romantic overtures but more to do with grabbing some shut eye when you can. If the toddler will only sleep if I give in and go to bed with him, I will admit to often succumbing and having an earlier night than I had planned. But hey, ultimately it means I get more sleep, as does he. So win-win. And maybe less of that expensive face cream is needed.
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The Giant Bunny in the corner…

I am a self-confessed chocolate addict, I have stashes of chocolate hidden everywhere for emergency purposes.  You just never know when or where the need for a Toffee Crisp will strike so I find it prudent to make sure there is always one on hand.  I am a hoarder of all things chocolate.  We moved home last year, and the confectionery hauls that were discovered were impressive, even I had forgotten what was where!  From memory I believe that approximately 6 Easter Eggs from last year were located (I have to hide them from my daughter’s line of sight and ration them out, of course like any good mother I help protect her from herself and do my duty and eat a couple), I must start keeping an inventory.

Easter bunny2

So it’s fair to say I’m on board with Easter.  What’s not to like?  Chocolate abounds and it is socially acceptable to enjoy it in more than moderate quantities.  I am also very partial to the occassional Cadbury’s Creme Egg and the seasonal availability of these stresses me, so I always have a couple stored with the “For emergencies only” supplies all year round.

Clearly that’s a thumbs up for Easter eggs from me, but there is an elephant in the room.  Or rather a giant bunny.  It appears my 5 year old really does think a giant bunny hops around leaving little chocolate eggs all over the place for her to find.  I am not quite sure how this belief has crept in and am unsure what to do with it.  I usually encourage any magical thoughts as childhood is fleeting and the joy is so pure.  But the Easter Bunny was not part of my childhood, or anyone else’s in Ireland from a quick straw poll.  We all knew the American’s had him bouncing about the place, but we were content that he stay that side of the Atlantic.  It wasn’t like we didn’t get any chocolate without him.

Easter bunny1

But somehow his enormous furry presence is now casting its shadow over our emerald isle.  I blame our parental delight in creating little egg hunts so we can watch welly-booted toddlers clamour around damp gardens on Easter Sunday with baskets…. I think I have helped create this problem, by trying to only take on board half of the tradition without fully realising how small minds connect the dots. What do I?  If I start laying down the facts and gently directing her towards the truth I am afraid that will open a can of worms and her inquisitive little mind will start putting two and two together and questioning the magic I am happy to support.   On the other hand I am slow to start encouraging the notion as it’s a step too far for me.  So what do you do?  Does the Easter Bunny pay a visit?  Do you have an egg hunt but no bunny talk?  Or is it clear that it’s family and friends that bestow the giant Easter egg mountain on your children?

In the meantime, Tesco now have 3 medium Easter Eggs for €4.50 and rumour has it Dunnes Stores has the same deal for €4.00!  So bunny or not, it’s a good time to stock up.

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Because he’s worth it.

My toddler is in love with me (to be fair it’s reciprocated but I do seem to do all of the running…).

You know how in the early days when you love someone there are moments you just can’t believe they love you back so much?  Or you start worrying that you’ll do something silly to mess it all up?  Those concepts don’t apply in the toddler kingdom.  He has no doubt whatsoever that he is deserving of every ounce of love.  He is, of course, even though sometimes he makes it more difficult than others (we’re going through the ever so fun hitting and hair pulling phase).  He throws impressively elaborate melt-downs over the most unworthy reasons (not being allowed hit and told to stop pulling his sister’s hair) and then sobs for Ireland as he clings to me and I comfort him.  I marvel at his lack of any sense of personal responsibility as he hiccups while trying to catch his breath following his tantrum and curls up in my lap as if the world was against.  He owns me, I know it, he knows it and he knows I know it.

So this got me thinking about how once you are a mother your most consuming relationships are with your kids, your partner is still there of course but he also has a new relationship dynamic as the mini-me’s clamour for more time and attention.   We both joke about how our favourite person is no longer the other one, as the kids top the polls.

As I lay in bed (who am I kidding, as I hung on to the edge of the bed precariously and shivered as there wasn’t a square inch of duvet anywhere near me) I thought about how sharing a bed with a toddler is like those first few nights with a new partner.

  1. You wear something you imagine they will find attractive to bed, despite the fact that you might prefer a different nocturnal outfit yourself.  However, the sexy undies are banished and fluffy pyjamas that are perfect for little heads to snuggle up against are in.
  2. You are nervous trying to sneak out to use the bathroom during the night.  Not because you don’t want to remind them that you’re an actual person who does need to answer the call of nature, but because you are terrified that you will wake the sleeping monster.
  3. You sleep in positions that aren’t all that comfortable.  While in the early days of a relationship that might mean keeping up the pretence you like to spoon as you sleep (when in fact you need to have your backs to one another to avoid having someone breathe on you), with a little person in the bed you discover that having feet, a nappy-clad bottom etc. positioned in your face is the norm.  And you will put up with it if it means s/he stays asleep.
  4. You ideally want to wake before them and have a chance to get yourself “freshened up” before they see you for the first time that day.  These days this means managing to make it to the bathroom to drag a brush through your hair, scrub your teeth and lather on some cream which promises to make you look ten years younger all before the all-demanding tyrant wakes.
  5. You go to bed at the same time and try to fit into their sleep habits.  Gone are the nights of marathon book reading and not caring about having the light on.  You go to bed together and stay in bed together.  With a toddler this doesn’t have the romantic overtures but more to do with grabbing some shut eye when you can.  If the toddler will only sleep if I give in and go to bed with him, I will admit to often succumbing and having an earlier night than I had planned.  But hey, ultimately it means I get more sleep, as does he.  So win-win.  And maybe less of that expensive face cream is needed.

I will end by saying I was never a bed-sharing advocate.  My 5 year old daughter never slept in our bed, not even when she was sick and I wanted to keep an eye on her.  She just had no interest and was happier in her own space.  So bed-sharing wasn’t on my radar until the tiny tyrant burst onto the scene a year and a half ago and refused to sleep anywhere else.  He has it figured out and wants the company, warmth and security of me beside him.  And he has no qualms about demanding the best and objecting to all else.  Why should he?  He deserves it after all.