Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This week Amy tells us about her youngest child's refusal to sleep in silence...
'So, it seems we have hit an unexpected sleep problem. At 16 months, M doesn't need to be rocked down, fed to sleep or given a bottle in the night. She tends to sleep for 11 or 12 hours at a stretch, and wakes up happy and refreshed. She's a dream. How could I have predicted that what I'd been dreaming of would turn out to be my enemy? That my nemesis would be silence.
With the twins now at nursery 3 afternoons a week, they tend to fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows. I love sneaking up there and checking out the comedy, dropped-from-a-plane positions they've given up in. Their morning wake-up has stretched a little too, from 7.30am to 8am. It's great. More sleep than I know what to do with. After at least a year of them thinking 5am was a perfectly reasonable toddler breakfast time, it's heaven. Only their newfound sleepiness has an unexpected casualty. It seems after a lifetime of drifting off to the strains of her sisters singing and laughing and generally being massively disruptive, M can't fall asleep in silence.
As I type this, the girls have been in bed an hour and, though the twins passed out within minutes, I can still hear M singing the alphabet over the monitor. It's not unusual for me to have to go back up there 4 or 5 times to reassure her that she's not alone, before she finally gives in to exhaustion. After so many months of chastising the twins when their night-time antics got too rowdy, it seems I should have been egging them on.
Yet again, when I moaned to my mum, she merely gave me a knowing smile. I should have seen this coming. My little sister was just the same. Sharing a room with me and our big sis, with whom I would excitedly chatter as soon as the lights were out, made her incapable of drifting off without noise. Apparently, if we were tired enough to zonk out, my parents would have to put on the radio to comfort their youngest to sleep.
So, do I have to resort to that too? Because I'm beginning to worry M isn't getting enough sleep. OK, so she still gets a good 10 or 11 hours by night, but I have the opposite problem by day. She won't nap in the house because she can hear her sisters, and knows she's missing out on something.
About 3 weeks ago, she suddenly went from a solid 2 hours in her cot to nothing. I can only get her down in the buggy. So by night she won't sleep because she can't hear her sisters, by day she won't sleep because she can. Oh, come on!
It's no wonder all parents become so obsessed with sleep. Are they sleeping enough? Are they sleeping too much? Why won't they sleep? Why won't they stay awake? We can't win. But I really was beginning to think M was my reward for coping with all the sleep dramas the twins threw at me.
I didn't get them to sleep through the night until about 18 months, with T still needing comforting to sleep for a good few months after that. I spent weeks doing the gradual withdrawal method, sitting uncomfortably on the floor (heavily pregnant, I might add) closer and closer to their bedroom door for a seemingly interminable length of time, only to succeed but then need to start all over again when a bout of illness threw T out of her routine. I sleep-trained her 3 times. I've paid my dues. I can't believe that now, silence is going to be my downfall.
So what should I do? Will a radio work? Or perhaps lullabies on CD? Or should I hire some kids to play noisily outside the window?! Please, I need help. I can't go back to being a sleepless mum!'
Do you have any sleep advice for Amy and her kids? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below or on Facebook.
Amy's other blog posts...