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How to stay cheerful when utterly exhausted

(20 Posts)
JumpJockey Thu 08-Sep-11 08:22:11

dd1 is nearly 3, dd2 is nearly 8 months and has always been an abysmal sleeper - she managed 3 hours in a row last night and it was like a miracle but usually it's every 2 hours. She's still bfing and refuses to settle for dh so I do all the night wakings. As a result I am always tired, and find it very hard to be cheerful and positive for dd1. I guess my parenting style would be called 'resigned' - a lot of the time I just let her get on with things because I don't have the energy to be chirpy and upbeat.

I do my best to be positive and try to encourage dd1 to have fun but often eg in the mornings when she's refusing to get dressed I end up being shouty mum because making things a game doesn't work and I lack the energy to keep on keep on trying new tactics.

Any suggestions for how to get round this (apart from drugging dd2 to sleep...)?

mamsnet Thu 08-Sep-11 08:53:55

The first thing that leaps out of your post is that nights like that are completely unsustainable and very unfair on all four of you. My 2 were both very prone to night waking but went straight back to sleep.. it sounds like this is not the case. Would you consider putting the baby in your bed after a certain time, say 4 am, so that you would at least get a decent stretch there.

I'm not usually an advocate, but I really think your DD2 does sound like she might need some gentle sleep training.. you are unlikely to sort out your days til you sort out your nights, imo.

JumpJockey Thu 08-Sep-11 09:22:00

Thanks for your reply mamsnet - dd2 is in her cot but still in our room as we're moving house in 2 weeks (eeek) - we're planning on moving her to her own when we move, and didn't think it was fair to try and do sleep training of any kind before then only to have her disrupted again. Tbh she does end up in bed with us quite often, but the morning is when she's at her most active, eg typical pattern is sleep at 8, wake for a quick yell at about 10.30 but sometimes settle herself back, wake for feed at 11.30/12, wake again at about 2 and 4 and then usually up for the day at about 6, i try to leave her in the cot jabbering but can't sleep with the noise (even with eRplugs, and even when I decamp to the spare room!) so Often dh will get up and take er downstairs, then dd2 is up and calling mummy i need a weewee at 6.30.

You know what, I reckon you're right, it is the nights that are the problem!

We're desperately hoping things will be able to be sorted when in the new house, but til then, any ideas?

mamsnet Thu 08-Sep-11 09:54:20

I agree with you about waiting til after the move, definitely.

Could Daddy not manage the two of them for that little window of time in the morning before he has to get ready to head off? I think that's a great sleep time grin.. I know one of my problems when I was BF (and I kept it up til 19 months with DS..) was the weight of responsibility.. only I could settle them to sleep. I won't be having more babies but I feel if I did, I would have to get him used to going to sleep with Daddy.. Could you try Daddy shushing her back to sleep?

naturalbaby Thu 08-Sep-11 09:59:17

i'm in a v.v.similar situation (3yr old and 7month old, 4hrs sleep is a good night) but have an extra child in the middle going through the terrible two's big time! i am so physically exhausted. i went through similar sleep issues with ds1 and did cc, couldn't with dc2 because he moved into ds1's room but he did settle really well sharing a room. they loved it. i still had to get up once or twice a night to lie him down again but he was much better.

i'm also lucky that they still have afternoon naps (all of them!) so i get a bit of a rest/nap/lie down when they do.

good luck with the house move!

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Fri 09-Sep-11 06:47:07

eat regularly. The last thing you need on top of exhaustion in a dip in blood sugar. Hope you get some sleep soon. smile

JumpJockey Fri 09-Sep-11 08:39:34

Daddy shushing her back to sleep... (hollow laugh) alas she goes from asleep to utter banshee in under a minute, arching and kicking and flailing. Think this is possibly because we co slept to start so she could always get to boob very fast. And shushing cuts no ice. We're currently in a terrace so not fair to subject neighbours to all this, in new house her room is on outside wall so hopefully we can give a bit more of a go without disturbing everyone.

Dh does take her downstairs first thing, and often will fetch dd1 while I get an extra 15 mins.

Moonface - good call on the food, i'm often too nauseous with tiredness in the morning to eat breakfast which can't be helping...

midwife99 Fri 09-Sep-11 09:26:53

I agree that after your house move she goes into get own room & you start sleep training. My DD4 was doing that at 7 months even though she was on 3 meals a day. I was due back at work in a couple of months & feeling desperate. Health Visitor gave me "permission" (ie soothed my guilt) & said that's it, cold turkey, no more night feeds. We had one horrendous night of crying & going in every 15 minutes to reassure & then she gave up. The next night she slept through the night!! She's now 2 & although like all babies & toddlers occasionally has a bad night if ill she has slept through ever since. Tough love to keep you sane or you will end up ill yourself. If she's eating solids she doesn't need night feeds any more. It's hard but worth it.

naturalbaby Fri 09-Sep-11 09:34:04

i tried cold turkey, no more night feeds and got 2hrs sleep for days on end while he rolled around wide awake, grizzling and squeaking all night sad so back to night feeds for a few days then going to try again.

plantsitter Fri 09-Sep-11 09:45:11

Well, tbh, I stopped breastfeeding just now at 9 months and things have got a lot better. DD doesn't reliably sleep through but sometimes does and if not, usually only wakes once or twice.

However, back to your original question - we have a similar age gap to you. If DP can get up earlier than you and dress DD1 as soon as her feet hit the floor it's much easier than trying to get her out of her nightie when she's been lolling about in it.

Things also got a lot easier when I started making DD1 a packed lunch every day and taking it with us wherever we went - just meant I didn't have to think about lunch and she could even have it in dribs and drabs throughout the morning. It meant that we never had that horrific part of the day where the toddler's starving and the baby's yelling and you're frantically trying to get lunch etc.

For me, avoiding the flash points meant that it was very slightly easier to be less shouty and more fun. Not much fun though.

Hope it gets better. It's knackering, isn't it?

storminateacup10 Fri 09-Sep-11 11:21:52

bottle feed expressed milk just before bedtime- she'll get all her feed quickly and in one go- then sleep through- worked for me.

JumpJockey Fri 09-Sep-11 15:09:46

Storm - when exactly do I get the time to sit down and express an entire bottle's worth of milk?!

Plant, we generally get dd1 dressed after breakfast, for laundry reasons! But that could well work, gets one thing out of the way.

Sleepglorioussleep Fri 09-Sep-11 16:45:57

I really feel for you. Has sleep issues with ds and I was so irritable from lack of sleep. Actually irritable doesn't go close to how I was. Things that helped were getting out-I was much less shouty with witnesses. Food-someone else mentioned blood sugar. I was foul grumpy when tired, vile when hunger added. I lived on nutella toast and bananas because they gave some kind of nutrition whilst being sweet and tempting enough (just).
Not beating myself up about how I was. People need different amounts of sleep and respond to tiredness differently. You are not being grumpy on purpose and if you could do anything about it you would and will.
As soon as (the second!) all children are asleep lie down on your bed. Sofa not as good. You may not sleep, or you might but you will rest.
This is a tough one but I tackled it bit by bit with the help of Untidiness and feeling lack of control over household stuff made me grumpier. So the living room and kitchen got tidied once a day (not cleaned) and I would set timer for five mins whenever I could. This might not be an issue in your house but it was certainly a trigger for shouting in ours.
Say out loud to dc when you are feeling grumpy, explaining why (unless it is their very presence in the room at that moment grin). It was a warning to me and them and often helped me rein myself in.
Counselling. There were a few issues that I had that stayed buried til time of crisis which my sleep dep definitely was, and the gp referred me to a counsellor. Best thing ever.
Not all of these might apply to you but I really recognise where you are and wanted to share what I found helpful. It will pass. I have dc no 3 now and things are very different.

plinkplonk Fri 09-Sep-11 19:21:09

Telly on, milk in cup, snack to hand.

Cheerful is too high an aim - just-functioning is good.

naturalbaby Sat 10-Sep-11 21:30:07

sleep i'm taking notes, looking at the flylady website now.
thanks for mentioning the counselling too, i keep wondering about it but don't know if/what i need counselling for. even the h.v and g.p said 'what for, do you need it?'

JumpJockey Sat 10-Sep-11 21:55:33

Housework - we have a baby bath in the lounge into which toys get chucked at day end, and that's about it until the new house tbh. Dh does the washing up,finds it vaguely therapeutic, and I'm not going to stop him smile

Rsting one girls are in bed - main difficulty is that once girls are asleep, it's time to make tea for me and dh. He doesn't get home til 7.30ish most days (unpredictable, he's a doctor so some days end relatively early, others go on for hours longer) and while I could eat with girls and go to bed sooner, that means he doesn't get to see children or wife...

Have definitely realised from what you've been saying that blood sugar cld be an issue - esp as we have our adult tea so late - so will have snacks on hand for me and kids all day, and try to have something before the bedtime battle hour.

Nb Sleepglorioussleep I had counselling as a student for various issues so don't think there's anything more to be dealt with thee. I hope...!

Laugs Sat 10-Sep-11 22:21:22

I think I would be cutting down on preparing two separate evening meals. Could you try some things like stews/ casseroles/ soups that just keep on cooking between the DCs dinner and yours, salads, jacket potatoes that just stay in the oven... etc.

I am admittedly rubbish domestically, but when my kids were younger (they're now nearly 5 and 21 months) I literally stopped doing anything housework-like the second they went to bed.

Also agree that you don't have to set high standards. I think the older one pottering around is fine, as long as she knows you are there. Some cheerful-ish ideas that are as close to sleep as you get:

Lying on the floor face down and letting them climb over you. This keeps my kids amused for far longer than I can bare it.

Book time. Snuggle up together but I will be reading my book and DD looks at hers. Works surprisingly well.

Reading stories. All pile into your bed and spend an hour or two with a big stack of story books.


Changing the clocks and sending them to bed early.

Good luck, it does get easier as no.2 gets older, not just because her sleep should improve but because the two DCs can entertain each other. Mine have reached that stage and it is lovely to watch, and much easier for me.

phdlife Sat 10-Sep-11 22:23:11

JumpJockey you sound exactly like me for most of the past four years. ds was a champion night-waker and also would never settle for dh, although he stopped at 19m we were in the middle of moving countries and I was 6m pg so I didn't get much sleep anyway - then dd came along and 2yrs in, she is STILL wanting to bf a couple of times a night. (and I never could express a full bottle, even if I'd had the time!)

I could never rest when the dc's went to bed either as I am an introvert and actually need some time on my own to process everything (mental, emotional) and recharge. I spent a good couple of years being ok with the dc's (just) but wanting to divorce dh approximately every 2nd day - displacement or what! Actually, seriously, I think it was a useful tactic, because it meant I was shirty with someone who (a) wasn't there most of the time and (b) could mostly take it when he was. (Of course, this only worked because even in that state I could recognise I didn't really want a divorce!) Instead I found the word itself to be a real red light - if 'divorce' started floating through my head too often, it was time for drastic action - by which I mean, I would go to bed at 10 a few nights running (it would take a couple of nights before going to bed = going to sleep instead of grinding my teeth). Because I was bfing I've been off caffeine; when the exhaustion got too much I did try a few grains of the real stuff in my decaf, but it made everything 10x worse.

when dd was 18m we had a go at sleep training but all we got was 10 days of 1-2hrs screaming a couple times a night and/or short screaming session + long fretty/whingey session. we tried again when she was 22m and she now sleeps til 4 most mornings (then bfs 3x before wake-up time, to make up for all she's missed hmm) Believe it or not getting to sleep through til 4 is a miracle for me - I am happier and able to be more responsive to both the dc's and my own warning signs.

which I realise is a LOT of wittering about me and not much help to you smile I think if you can just mainly be nice to your dc's - read with them, talk to them (I always found playing too hard - required too much brainspace + sitting still which made me fall sleep or nauseous trying not to) - and get through the move - for now, that will do. Once you get your nights sorted, even a little bit, as the others have said, everything will start to get easier.

ok poor dcs been waiting for their brekky - better go. good luck, hth a little.

phdlife Sat 10-Sep-11 22:24:39

ooh - also - the first two things laugs said!

JumpJockey Sun 11-Sep-11 06:45:43

Phdlife I hope you're somewhere on the other side of the world, otherwise your dcs have been waiting a really long time for breakfast smile

Thanks all, will read this again and reply properly when dd2 not pulling my pyjama trousers off trying to stand up...

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