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Am I a terrible parent if I let DD follow her natural sleep schedule in lockdown?

6 replies

BlibBlabBlob · 14/01/2021 09:57

Hello everybody, I am new to this board (but not to Mumsnet).

DD is being assessed for autism, and I am autistic (diagnosed last year) myself. She is 10, Year 5 at school.

Remote learning is not going well at all, and that's a whole other story, but the reason it's bothering me this morning is that she keeps missing the morning class call because it starts at 09:15 and she's still fast asleep. At first I was dragging her out of bed, but she'd sit there refusing to turn on the camera or speak and doing her level best not to listen (hands over ears) or just run away from the desk.

She's always had sleep issues since she was a tiny baby and we've generally gone with the flow and adapted our own sleeping arrangements to accommodate her needs e.g. we have a MASSIVE bed which has enough room for DD to join us. There have been odd times over the last few years that she's slept alone, at least at the start of the night, but since the pandemic started she's wanted to be next to me all night every night and it's not the hill I want to die on TBH. Life is hard enough.

She has ALWAYS struggled to get to sleep at a 'normal' bedtime, no matter what I've tried, but over the last year or two has started to develop the ability to sleep later in the morning. Makes a nice change from the 5am wake-ups I dealt with for years and years!

I'm WFH full time and have been getting up at 6am to start work and get a few hours in before she wakes. I'm keen to leave her to wake naturally because (a) I get more guilt-free time at my desk - I'm not ignoring her if she's asleep, right? - and (b) if she isn't going to be able to go to sleep at a normal time, at least leaving her to lie in means she gets enough sleep overall and isn't massively grumpy all day due to overtiredness. She's currently falling asleep somewhere between 11pm and midnight. It's nearly 10am and she's still asleep now.

But am I a terrible and weak parent for doing this and letting her sleep when her body is ready to sleep (and wake when it's ready to wake)?

When school is open I drag her out of bed at 8am, of course, but it's always a nightmare and she is tired all day. However she STILL can't sleep at a normal bedtime, even by the end of the week when she is exhausted. For her, being tired has never necessarily equated with being sleepy.

I suppose I'm looking for reassurance from other parents of autistic kids that I'm not totally screwing up here? Or a flaming, if that's merited. It's hard to get a lot of parenting stuff right as despite doing endless hours of reading and research on parenting I am not neurotypical myself and struggle with being a 'normal' parent. In some ways this benefits DD as I truly understand where she's coming from and her struggles. But in other ways I know I am letting her down big style.

So am I doing the right thing here? How are your autistic kids doing sleep-wise in lockdown?

OP posts:
Realmehere · 16/01/2021 10:08

Firstly you are not an awful parent, irrespective of what lock down decisions you need to make as you evidently care and are trying your best Flowers.

I have no answers but only empathy. I too am WFT at home and after week 1 feel so broken. Have DD 13 with ASD and another DD age10.

I tried this week the approach of keep to same routine. Literally pealing DD13 from bed, sleep walking her to bathroom, getting her dressed, playing with special teddies etc to try and get her to move or engage. It’s like this most mornings going to school as a) she is exhausted as doesn’t sleep well and b) has had horribly difficult time with transition to senior school and wants to avoid at all costs.

But this week has felt waaay worse. I’ve been in tears most mornings. The hard bit for me is after all this effort she is sitting at the iPad at 8.50 for registration but then I can now see the visible lack of engagement. They have policy of cameras off for school zooms and she sits there in dark bedroom with hands over ears and not listening etc. So genuinely what’s the point? On Monday and Tuesday it seemed ok, she did wake up and take part in the school day (to some extent) and I was hopeful. Keep to routine of breaks etc etc - all of which is really important for her. But past 3 days, I think she is really struggling and school refusal has developed a new form.

Now I know there must be a point to my efforts but it’s hard to see - which brings me back to your dilemma- to let them sleep or not.....

Yesterday didn’t get started at my work till 12! I feel so low today.

Am going to speak with DD over weekend and may then revert to school. However I am very scared about the return to school post lock down and know that effectively we are starting that from scratch all over again. For me, this is the primary driver for still doing the 8.50 start time. Even the school have recognised that returning will be the hard bit.

So I can’t offer advice and indeed would more than welcome any. But I know it’s not easy. Hugs.

user686833 · 16/01/2021 10:28

I'm doing the same here OP. My daughter isn't autistic but she has ADHD (as do I). She also has delayed sleep phase syndrome. Like your daughter mine has only very recently, since the Christmas holidays started to sleep in late in the mornings. I am furloughed and not working from home but regardless I am letting her sleep until she naturally wakes which is between 10 and 11.

She doesn't have video lessons, but does have a lot of set work each day. We're just doing it more slowly, were behind on it because she hits a wall quite abruptly and we are only starting it I
the afternoons, so I'm hoping to do some over the weekends. She takes twice as long and needs twice as much assistance than most kids her age so I think it's a reasonable expectation that she won't manage it all on time. I don't think her teacher will start to harass us, she must know that she needs one to one as she struggles to complete work in class so I'm confident to just take things at our own pace.

If my daughter did have video lessons we certainly wouldn't be doing them all. Furlough or no furlough I can't manage that, and I have other children with SEN and other commitments that won't fit around the school timetable at home.

Porcupineintherough · 16/01/2021 16:38

All I'd say, as someone with a lifetime of sleep issues, is that it is very easy to let your sleep cycle drift and you may then end up with problems. Left to myself I would go to bed at 3am and get up at lunchtime but that would make life pretty much impossible.

I'm not saying drag your dd out if bed for 9am and stick her in front of the computer but you may find, if you leave her, she will basically become nocturnal (esp if she associates daytime w school and stress). Unless you are ok with that, you need to be waking her at the same time each morning (no one can make themselves go to sleep, all you can do is control the time you wake).Might be kinder to wake her at 8nor 9 but not start "school" til 10 to give her a chance to get going.

ArchbishopOfBanterbury · 16/01/2021 20:37

Aiming for 10 till 10 would be a comfortable compromise.

When schools back on, you might want to look at getting Melatonin to help her fall asleep earlier and get back into the routing.

Stay123 · 16/01/2021 20:43

Lots of kids sleeping patterns have gone badly wrong due to lack of exercise and mental stimulation in lockdown. Some have gone nocturnal! Both mine go to sleep very late and the oldest gets mind chatter until 3 or 4 some nights. I have ordered some melatonin to see if that helps. I do wake them for their zoom classes at 9 though and it’s fine if they log in then half listen in bed, making sure their video is off so no one sees!

Ollivander · 20/01/2021 21:51

My DS(12) has gone nocturnal as well. I'm WFH 12+ hours a day and spend ages trying to get him up. Am slowly losing the battle, but can't stay awake all night trying to get him to bed. For those using Melatonin is this the type you can order online? Am a bit concerned about ordering, how do you know if it's safe and what dosage? I've read about the gummies you can order but chickened out from ordering them, but anything that could switch him back to a normal routine would be a godsend!

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