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At the end of my tether

(27 Posts)
PoppyStellar Sun 05-Jun-16 21:24:19

I need some help, advice and virtual handholds. I am sat here in tears, utterly exhausted because my DD (nearly 6) won't go to sleep. I have posted about this before and had some really helpful advice and for a while (a couple of years) we seemed to have a version of co sleeping + reward chart incentive + good going off to sleep with only waking up in the early hours that whilst not in anyway a perfect solution meant that we both got a decent enough amount of sleep.

However, the last couple of weeks have been hellish. It has taken longer and longer for her to go off to sleep. Tonight I sat with for an hour and she is still wide awake. I am on my own and just feel like an utterly rubbish mother. I don't get any time to myself so I am grumpy and tired and cross and snappy during the day. This makes me feel worse and I just can't shake the feeling I am doing something wrong.

We have a strong bedtime routine. Unwind downstairs, up for a wash, into pjs and a story together, then kisses and cuddles when she is in bed and I sit in her room away from the bed til she falls asleep. This used to work. It would be 15/20 mins max before she drifted off. I don't know why it isn't working at the moment. I have previously (a good few years ago) tried to leave her to go off to sleep by herself. This resulted in massive anxiety for her and she would stand at the top of the stairs crying for me. This is when I made the transition to staying in the room with her til she fell asleep.

Tonight I have let her go to sleep straight away in her emergency bed in my room. I am sure this is the wrong thing to do and I am probably just making a rod for my own back but I didn't know what else to do to try and get some respite from her and for her to get some sleep. I left her at 9 and I think she is still awake.

I cannot think of anything that has upset or unsettled her other than me being really grumpy and unpleasant (but that is a chicken and egg situation, I am grumpy cos I'm exhausted and I'm exhausted cos she doesn't sleep)

I have to work during the day whilst she is at school but I am so tired and I am behind with work which I could really do with catching up on in the evening but can't cos she won't go to sleep early enough or stay asleep long enough. I am lucky if I get 2 or 3 hours between putting her to bed and needing to go and settle her down because she's woken up. I am at the end of my tether. Something has got to give and I feel like at the moment it is going to be me, but then I think I can't give up or give in because who will pay the bills, who will feed her, take care of her, get her to school etc etc.

I'm sure I just need to crack a better bedtime routine but I don't know where to start.

Alljamissweet Sun 05-Jun-16 21:38:57

So sorry, sleep deprivation is the worst imo. We have a 5 yr old, we're 3 years in and they used to sleep like a dream in the cot and as soon as it went, the fun began!
We tried everything, laying down in the bed, sitting on the floor, sitting outside the door - rapid return for reassurance nothing was affective and then one night we downloaded an audio book and bingo!
LO can not resist been sucked into the story and goes straight off to sleep.
They say no audio book, but I put it on anyway and it works at the moment.
Does LO get lots of fresh air and exercise during the day, I'm sure they do. Has anything happened over the half term or is there something at school I wonder.
Is there any way you could get the GP to sign you off for a couple of weeks to just recover and feel able to cope?
Good luck xxxx

PoppyStellar Sun 05-Jun-16 22:55:11

Thanks alljam the audio book is a great idea. I think I am going to try that and present it as a 'now you're nearly 6, this is how big girls go off to sleep on their own' Fingers crossed it works!

Re the fresh air, she is the queen of it. I am the least actively inclined person I know but we spend so much time outdoors running around, scooting, playing football, climbing etc that she should be physically shattered (I certainly am!)

Thanks for the kind words and ideas.

Cleo1303 Sun 05-Jun-16 23:53:53

You are NOT a "rubbish mother" but you are a very tired one.

I don't know what to suggest right now but I will come back tomorrow. I hope she has finally gone to sleep.

The audio books sound like a good idea to try.

Sending you a big hug. xx

tldr Mon 06-Jun-16 00:06:24

Yes, you're not rubbish.

Might it work making bedtime time to go play quietly in bed rather than going to sleep time? Our 5yo always resisted sleep but is happy to be left to read or colour or play quietly. She won't play in her bedroom during the day ever but is happy to at bedtime. And then at actual sleep time we just shout up that it's sleep time. (Or, if we forget, we'll find her asleep on a book later...)

good luck - lack of sleep is awful. flowers

PoppyStellar Mon 06-Jun-16 00:25:50

Thanks both. She is asleep now and has been for a couple of hours at least.

The idea about going to her room to play at bedtime is a good one, I think the thing I need to crack is helping her cope with being on her own in her room at bedtime. It doesn't matter to me whether she is playing, reading or colouring as long as she's not crying her eyes out stressing, or working herself into a tantrum.
Thank you for the support x

SpookyRachel Mon 06-Jun-16 00:31:13

I'm just going to do a short reply right now, because it took me THREE HOURS to get my two settled tonight (oh, I feel your pain). I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice about how to get her to self-settle, but I'm someone who has just accepted the situation and since I did that life has been better. Firstly because I now try to see it as valuable attachment time - I'm a WOHM, and kind of see this as a way of reinforcing our bond. But very importantly, though at the risk of sounding trivial, life got much sweeter once I got a kindle. Now I just read novels while she is going to sleep, and that turns it into part of my leisure time (in fact, pretty much all of my leisure time). I feel a lot less fed up, and because I'm more relaxed she gets to sleep quicker. (It doesn't normally take three hours!)

So - kindle or kindle app is my advice.

Char22thom Mon 06-Jun-16 08:15:03

Perhaps small steps would be sensible, maybe let her play for just a few mins or so (you will know how long is appropriate) before you return/pop head in and extend by a small amount of time each time x following what others said about audio books, depending what she likes could you record your voice reading/telling some stories for her to listen to at bedtime? She might find that comforting, like you are still there? X

RatherBeIndoors Mon 06-Jun-16 11:02:59

I'm with SpookyRachel most nights - I have just accepted that DD finds it hard to sleep, is at her most anxious at the transition times, and that sometimes all the usual things just don't work. A kindle is also my sanity-saver (only a shred of sanity, but I'm clinging to it grin ). Rachel is also right that the calmer I can manage to stay, the better things go. I often fail, but I try.

This is much, much harder when I'm tired from work/conscious I need to work the next day. Sometimes I need to leave her to play a little bit; she is safe, moderately calm, just not yet able to wind down. I am thinking that possibly I need to make bedtime a bit later as it's been the same for a very long time and she is patently growing up. I might be brave and try it this week!

The other thing that definitely affects DD's anxiety is time of year - she has an astonishing cyclical memory for triggering events, and it often catches me out when she is struggling and I later remember an anniversary etc. Obviously there's also disrupted routine, so school holidays are a nightmare, before, during and after.

I don't think you are making a "rod for your own back" by responding to her needs, at all. I think you are attuned to her, sensitive to her, and that's why this is so draining and hard on you, because you are experiencing her anxiety as well. It's so so hard without sleep, and without your own breathing space. Thinking of you smile

RatherBeIndoors Mon 06-Jun-16 11:03:52

(To clarify, I am not actually with SpookyRachel most nights, although I'm sure that would be marvellous too!)

SpookyRachel Mon 06-Jun-16 12:49:26

grin It would be a night you would never forget, RatherBeIndoors. You, me and our kindles...

JustHappy3 Mon 06-Jun-16 13:13:22

I think you have done the right thing letting her sleep in your room. She is telling you that right now she needs that closeness and you have provided it.
I wouldn't stress that this doesn't fall into the "normal" in-her-own bed scenario. If this bit of regression/extra care is what she needs i would go with it. In the hope that you can get her to go to sleep in your room at say 7pm.
It might last months but it won't last forever - although the reassurance you give her will do. Hope that doesn't sound harsh - sleep deprivation and lack of down time is horrid.

JustHappy3 Mon 06-Jun-16 13:13:56


PoppyStellar Mon 06-Jun-16 13:27:23

Thank you all. It really helps to hear other people's experiences and know I am not alone. I think anxiety is a massive part of it. I hadn't thought about the impact of the time of year (can't believe I hadn't as it seems so blindingly obvious!) but this may also explain why it is particularly difficult at this time of year for her, coupled with it being school holidays. The phrase 'astonishing cyclical memory' really resonates. You could be describing my own DD with that one!

Cleo1303 Mon 06-Jun-16 13:57:40

Just a thought but you could try the Bach Rescue or Flower Remedies for kids. I haven't tried these on DD but I know people who swear by them. I have used the adult versions in the past and found them very effective.

Also, instead of a quick wash before bed you could try getting her a range of lovely bubble baths and let her play in the bath for a while. She might find that calming before bedtime.

Italiangreyhound Mon 06-Jun-16 17:36:58

PoppyStellar I am sorry this is so hard.

Our birth dd was a terrible sleeper and came into our bed right up until about age 9 when we adopted ds (then 3). Somehow just before he arrived she felt fine to stay in her bed on her own. She is quite a nervous child and was very bad at sleeping.

Is the emergency bed a camp bed? I think you are right to let her sleep in it (I am assuming you don't call it an emergency bed to her!). One day I think she will discover her own bed is bigger and more comfy than the camp bed!

Here are a few things that might help (sorry if you have tried them):

-talk to dd during daylight about how things are and see if anything is bothering her, don't make this talks part of bed time routine because that can be used to elongate bedtime!

-make sure she is happy with light on or off, door open or closed, even my 11 year old has views, having curtains closed sometimes scares her! (She is not adopted and I have no idea why this bothers her, there doesn't need to be a sinister reason for this.) Again be careful not to do too much of this during bed time as it can be a tactic to elongate bedtime routines

-make sure the room is comfy - the weather has been very changeable and kids can sometimes get very hot at night, they are not good at regulating their temperature sometimes, make sure the room is the right temperature for her

-warm milky drink before bed (before teeth cleaning obviously) - in hot weather cool milk, although I do feel warm helps sleep!

-warm bath - in hot weather cool bath, although again I do feel warm helps sleep!

We do the bath time routine nightly, I am sure you do. We do it every night except when coming back from being far off, e.g. meal out of whole day outing after dinner, we usually put kids in pajamas in car

Other things could help
- things like lavender can smell great and make people sleepy (as long as they are not allergic to it) e.g. in bubble bath, in room diffuser
- if she will not sleep but is not distressed give her picture book, or a reading one if she can read now, my 5 year old can, my dyslexic dd never could at that age but some kids can
-sometimes the pressure to 'go to sleep' is quite hard on kids. Easier to say 'lie down flat', I always used to say something like 'flat as a pancake'
I'd ask dd to plan something in her head.. our next holiday, if she owned a zoo what would it be like
-if your dd likes baking or decorating cakes get her to plan in her head the most yummiest cake or best cake decoration

In order to get some 'me' time I would be tempted if you have one or can afford one to use a small screen lap tap or whatever that you can see and she can't and headphones so you could be doing emails, or watching a film or something on the bed, while she is on the emergency bed (which I am guessing is lower than your bed so below her line).

When we go away to a hotel we are all in a room together, me and DH, dd 11 and ds 5. Ds gets so excited and cannot get to sleep he tosses and turns and gets quite frustrated. We just encourage him to lie still and close his eyes. I think saying a lot of times 'go to sleep' doesn't help. How does anyone make themselves do that! But I am sure I have said that at times!

Good luck.

If my advice is rubbish, please ignore BUT you are no way a rubbish mum. thanks

PoppyStellar Mon 06-Jun-16 19:44:47

Thanks Italian some great words of advice and comfort. Just about to do bedtime and we've had a lovely talk earlier in the day about what's going to happen so fingers crossed for a more successful evening.

Italiangreyhound Tue 07-Jun-16 23:53:20

I do hope all went well.

DD was up having her hair brushed at 11.00 tonight! But then she is 11 and she is very like me, a night owl!

Hope it went well.

Nuzza Wed 08-Jun-16 03:57:08

I just wanted to add my agreement to the poster who said not to worry about making 'a rod for your own back' - I've found it helpful to ignore this phrase when people said it to me (or more often, I found myself saying it to myself) about holding our LO when she needed us at night. It just felt like a lot of pressure and a bit of doom-mongering we didn't need (and it turned out not to be true anyway).

Funnily enough for work today I was looking at some very old scrap books in the library, and came across a number of old poems cut out of magazines about sitting at children's bedsides - I suppose that was once normal, which is easy to forget when all those scary sleep books etc say we're getting it wrong if we do this. I think you sound like you're doing absolutely great, Poppy, and not doing it wrong at all.

PoppyStellar Wed 08-Jun-16 09:36:54

Thanks. It's still a struggle, there is clearly something unsettling her at the moment though she can't articulate what it is, she probably doesn't even know, but she is definitely in need of extra reassurance.

All the lovely helpful comments and support have helped to bring me down from the metaphorical ledge I was perching on and I feel considerably less stressed than I was, and better able to sit it out with her every night, however long that takes.

Cleo1303 Wed 08-Jun-16 10:32:35

Hi Poppy,

You are doing really well. It will take time but it will change for the better eventually I'm sure.

In the meantime come here and scream whenever you need do. We'll all be here.


RatherBeIndoors Wed 08-Jun-16 12:13:15

You're doing brilliantly, really, really well.

Also, we love these (one each when anxiety is building and we can't seem to bring it down): Rescue Remedy Chewy Stars

Cleo1303 Wed 08-Jun-16 12:52:46

I didn't know about those RR Chewy Stars. Thank you for that. What a great idea. (I wish I'd known about them before DD's maths test. She was in quite a tizz. I'll know for next time.)

PoppyStellar Wed 08-Jun-16 13:34:14

I like the look of those rescue remedy stars! I feel a trip to Boots coming on. Plus if they don't help DD they might help to keep me calm grin

JellyBellyKelly Wed 08-Jun-16 21:57:34


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