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Help needed with sleep...long, sorry!

(19 Posts)
spg1983 Mon 08-Oct-12 21:58:09

Ok, this one is going to sound like a real moan, but it's driving me crazy and would love some suggestions on what to do...or just assurances that this happens to other people too!

We have DSS every weekend (pick up Fri evening, back home Sun night) plus most of every school holiday. DH and I are both full-time teachers. DSS is a lovely, sweet, kind 6yo and I'm 19 wks pregnant with my first DC.

I absolutely love having DSS here but the problem is that I really struggle with sleep while he's here, for a couple of reasons. He is really struggling with staying dry overnight (it has never happened yet) and despite the fact he wears pull-ups, he often overflows them and we have to get up in the night and change his bedclothes and pyjamas as he's uncomfortable when wet. We have done the double-layering thing so all we have to do is take off 1 sheet and 1 waterproof pad-type thingy but it always takes a while to re-settle DSS once we've got everything sorted.

He also gets up really early every single day, 6am is a lie-in for him. We have got him into the habit of playing in his room until 7am when he then comes into our room and watches TV until one of us takes him downstairs for breakfast (DH and I take turns to do this). My issue is that although it means we are sharing the load fairly, I am just finding it hard work as I always get woken up by DSS's crazy amount of noise when he wakes up, often before 6am. I can't get back to sleep as I worry about something happening to him if he's awake while we're asleep. We've tried adjusting bedtimes but he still gets up just as early and is then cranky during the day if he's gone to bed later.

Our jobs mean that we're up at 6am every day and taking the odd day off to recover if we're tired is impossible, and obviously I realise that when the baby comes then sleep will be a thing of the past but I just wondered if anyone had any tips to help me feel a bit less stressed about it? I'm getting to work on Monday mornings feeling like an absolute wreck!

I do think that a lot of this worrying is caused by me anticipating the harder times to come with the baby but I am just starting to resent the fact that I am getting more and more tired as time goes on and there doesn't seem to be anything we can do about it. I feel that DH does do his bit and to ask him to do more would mean that he loses sleep too! He is much better than I am at going straight back to sleep when he's woken in the night or early in the morning so it's not affecting him as much, nor does he understand why it's making me feel like this.


brdgrl Mon 08-Oct-12 22:09:25

You might be uncomfortable with my answer - but here it is. Stop taking turns getting up with him, and stop changing him when it's needed. Let DH do that, at least until you are feeling better.

Even if DSS were 'your own', I would say that your DH needs to take more than 50% of this particular load at the moment. I remember that tiredness of pregnancy - it was unlike any other kind of tired I ever experienced. Pregnancy is not an illness - but neither is it unreasonable to ask for extra help through its real discomforts and pressures.

The fact that DSS is a stepchild is relevant, though. You are "sharing the load fairly" - but it is not an equally shared responsibility. If it were working for you to do as much as you do for DSS, great, but it is not working, is it?

Your DSS is not living with you and DH fulltime, surely it is not asking too much for your DH to do the childcare for his own son when he is there?

NotaDisneyMum Mon 08-Oct-12 22:49:12

I agree; in fact, I've lost count of the number of times I have been criticised on MN for getting involved in DSS day to day care when he's here - and I'm not pregnant and exhausted!

Cloverhoney Tue 09-Oct-12 09:01:14

I totally agree too. Let DH do it most of the time. My son (4) is similar - we recently bought him a Gro-Clock (have a look on John Lewis website). I really didn't think it would work but it has.... We've set it for 6:45am so if my son wakes before that (and the 'sun' hasn't come out yet) he has to lie quietly in his bed (we leave his bedtime book from the evening before at the end of his bed for him to look at). Weirdly, after months of waking up at 5 (sometimes earlier) he now sleeps right up until 6:45 and occasionally beyond! I don't know how it worked (and I don't much care!) but it did.

I'd be slightly concerned about a 6 year old not ever being dry at night though. That doesn't sound quite right. Might be worth a trip to the docs or HV I reckon.

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

BadIdeaBear Tue 09-Oct-12 09:53:43

Night-time care and bath-time care is definitely fully in my DP's court here. He is also NRP and we have the two DSD7 and DSS3 EOW. DSD is now very good at not disturbing us til 7am and often 'washes' and dresses herself first too... However DSS also wakes early - we usually get a knock on the bedroom door at about 6.15. My DP takes him back to bed and tries to settle him again but he's normally up again before 7. He fairly often ends up in our bed before my DP takes him and DSD down for some TV watching pre breakfast. I'm sure that's bad practice but... they love it and it gives us a tiny bit more shut-eye. But I agree that you sound like you're doing a little too much OP, even if you weren't pregnant. And since you are, grab all the sleep you can!

seeker Tue 09-Oct-12 09:59:59

At the risk of being reported to social services, but I wouldn't have a problem with a 6 year old going downstairs and watching TV by himself.

I would leave him some easy to get breakfast, make sure the room is reasonably safe and let him get on with it.

LaminateFlaw Tue 09-Oct-12 10:51:15

On the sleep thing, I agree with seeker - we do this with DSD (now 7). Chances are one of us wakes up anyway and says hello on the way to the bathroom or something, but it is still restful time even if we aren't completely asleep.

purpleroses Tue 09-Oct-12 11:45:02

Would agree with the above, that as you are tired and pregnant it would be fair for your DH to do more to let you have a lie in.

But also, at 6 years old, it would be fair enough to expect him not to wake either of you up before, say, 7am. Can he not creep downstairs quietly and watch telly for an hour or so? A 6 year old is old enough to learn to play quietly when required.

When my DS was 4 I was struggling on my own with a baby as well and started allowing him to watch Cbeebies for an hour or two on his own each morning. I also left him an apple or slice of bread out to eat until I got up to get him proper breakfast. He was very happy having an uniterupted hour for TV first thing in the morning, and I was a much better mum for the rest of the day having had enough sleep.

Also - you're tired now, but you'll be more tired when you're waking in the night with the baby, so best to build up some better routines now.

ChaoticismyLife Tue 09-Oct-12 11:54:56

Wrt wetting the bed, take him to the doctors, or get his mum to take him. My dd used to have the same problem at this age and the doctor gave me a nasal spray which worked wonders.

spg1983 Tue 09-Oct-12 18:27:09

Thanks for your replies.

Wrt the bed-wetting, DSS's mum has taken him to the doctor who has told her it's not something he can investigate until DSS turns 7, which is frustrating as his birthday is 5 days after baby is due - I can foresee a lot of disrupted sleep!!

To deal with the sleep issue, I guess I'm going to have to speak to DH. Wish me luck...! sad

I don't think it'll go down well- we've shared care of DSS 50/50 ever since we got together (when DSS was 1). I think DH will find it hard to understand but I'll give it a go...!

spg1983 Fri 26-Oct-12 18:59:09

Hi all...just thought I'd update.

I spoke to DH and firstly said that I was finding it difficult to get enough sleep with being woken so early, so mentioned that when DSS woke up and came into our room wanting to watch tv, I'd sneak into the spare room to try and get an extra hour or so. Didn't think it'd be unfair as DH normally goes straight back to sleep after switching on the tv anyway so he wouldn't miss out on any sleep.

Anyway, DH said he'd rather not have me leaving the bed as it wasn't fair on me and he suggested that DSS goes downstairs for an hour of TV rather than sitting on our bed watching it. I'm feeling much better and it's made no difference to DSS.

Wrt the wetting, his mum has spoken to the doctors again and they're still fobbing her off with the "wait until 7" advice. Feel really sorry for her, we only have 2 days per week, she has the rest to deal with. Really hope this magical "stay dry" hormone kicks in soon, for all our sakes sad

MsMadelineashton Fri 26-Oct-12 23:02:27

Can I just say that you are a wonderful person!!! You share equally the care of a child who isn't yours, even when pregnant and exhausted, and not even a hint of anger that the child's own mother has every weekend to herself to sleep, party, shop etc etc... To be honest I can't quite believe what I'm reading.

When does Mum spend quality time with her son? confused

I also second that its fine for him to watch TV alone and help himself to a piece of fruit or whatever. Mine does.

Failing all that, could one of you do Saturday and one Sunday?

I thought I was a nice person until I heard what you do blush

cloudpuff Tue 30-Oct-12 00:04:39

I would imagine his Mum spends quality time with him during the week, when he is at home with her. I didn't realise quality time could only happen on a weekend.

How do you know his Mother spends every weekend sleeping, shopping and partying? That was a bit uncalled for tbh.

theredhen Tue 30-Oct-12 07:04:30


Looking at it another way, mum is getting all the mundane routine by having her son school days only, she doesn't even see him during the holidays.

As a mum, I wouldn't like that at all.

However, as a step mum I wouldn't like every weekend and every holiday either, when does op get a break?

spg1983 Tue 30-Oct-12 08:07:06

MsM I'm no saint!! The arrangements were made by DH and his exW so I just go along with what they decided between them, does frustrate me sometimes when we have to turn down pretty much every invite at weekends but not DSS's fault so better just to get on with things and make it nice for him while he's here. We do split the Sat and Sun wake-ups but my issue was that even if it's not my turn, I still got woken up by DSS coming in wanting to watch TV (not any more though).

cloud his mum doesn't work so can pick DSS up from school at 3pm and often does nice things with him after school. She also has him some of the holidays so can save up day trips etc to do then. She is on the way to being diagnosed with ME/CFS hence not working and not having DSS for long stretches outside school.

thered yes it does feel like that sometimes, especially towards the end of a term when I'm knackered and just want to sleep. Often, we'll have spent the weekend bombing over to DSS's house straight from work on Fri to get him, then spent the weekend with him and finally returning him home on Sun and pretty much collapsing with exhaustion on exWs sofa, only to hear about the lovely chilled weekend she's had and the friends she's having coffee with the next day and the hair appointment she has booked for Monday morning...nails on Tues, shopping on Weds, walk on beach on Thurs...

It does make me quite upset sometimes but I think they're tired tears rather than angry or bitter ones. There is no way we can change the arrangements but I must admit that I'm worried about coping when baby is here and it's time to go back to work...we do try to take DSS out a lot at the weekends as his mum says she can't do big day trips or sporty activities etc and we don't want him to miss out. We may have to cut down on that kind of thing or even have DH take DSS out on his own for one of the days at the weekend. We'll have to see how things go...

Btw, I hope it's pretty obvious from my posts that I don't blame any of this on anyone...obvs I love DH, his exW is very nice and we get on well plus DSS is really gorgeous too. Just as the title said...I struggle with sleep!!

MsMadelineashton Tue 30-Oct-12 08:32:12

Yes, lots of assumptions on my part. I'm sorry - guess I just felt inadequate in niceness terms given all OP does seemingly with no resentment at all. I didn't say that mum DOES those things at the weekend, just that she is free to. Regards 'quality time' yes this can happen in the week. But not in the same way as those routine-free weekend days. Whether Mum works or not.
Given that she had ME I can understand that she would need more child-free time than most and it's wonderful that dad and SM can do what they do.
I still feel that Dads taking the piss though, sorry.

MsMadelineashton Tue 30-Oct-12 08:35:26

No, I wouldn't like to only have my dd four after schools a week and no weekends, And not much holiday time either. I would hate it.

spg1983 Tue 30-Oct-12 11:19:26

MsM rightly or wrongly I don't feel that DH is taking the piss...when we got together we knew it'd be a long-term thing and he made a real effort to get me involved with DSS as a member of his family and not as a 'Dad's girlfriend' type of thing. It would feel weird to me to sit to one side while DH takes on the majority of DSS's care plus I think that at this stage, if I suddenly 'pulled back' and let DH take on the majority of DSS's care then DSS would wonder what on earth he's done wrong to make me distance myself in such a way.

When we are all together (DH, DSS and I), there are no issues whatsoever in terms of who takes responsibility for DSS and who disciplines him etc, because of the groundwork we've put in over the years. I prefer it like this and feel that it works for us, which is why I wanted help with the sleep issue - at the time it was the only thing which was causing issues for me...

MsMadelineashton Tue 30-Oct-12 11:21:26

That is lovely, and refreshing to hear. Like I say, you're a nicer person than I!!!

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