It is no secret that I have major issues with my 3 year old at bedtime.  I always have.  I blame it on my “on demand” non – schedule I kept for her as an infant.  I remember telling my sitter that I didn’t care when she ate or slept, just let her lead you.

Yea… no one ever accused me of being a brilliant new mother.

The Night Life

As a result, I often got a call from the sitter asking me if I had any tricks to get my 3 month old to sleep.  “She’s been up all day while my other babies have napped twice.” she’d say.  I had nothing.

I felt awful for Katie and the sitter and this is the primary reason I started staying home.

Once home, I was the nap Nazi.  I did get her to sleep, every day from about 12 to 3 and then slacked at bedtime.  My husband worked late hours so I kept her up for him.  Add to that that she slept in the room with us and I almost always had the TV on til late into the night.

When I was a month from having Sarah, we got serious about bedtime.  It worked and we, for a month anyway, were able to get her to nap and down at a decent time and – sort of – sleep through the night.  She usually got up a few times, I admit.

When I was in the hospital with Sarah, my ex got her to sleep at night without me by laying in her room next to her crib.  After I brought Sarah home and all hell broke loose, that tradition continued.  I was ok with it as I was up with a cholicy newborn and didn’t care how Tony got her to sleep.  Just get her to sleep!

From then on, bedtime has been scarier than my feet… no pedicure in months – not pretty.  We learned our lesson and Sarah was our best sleeper, often asking to take a nap and go to bed.  Though now that her sister is the night partier of 2010, she is starting to protest as well.  Megan, we are having better luck with.  She naps and goes to bed at a decent hour and is our only baby that has ever slept through the night.  It is not consistent but who cares…  I have hope each night since I know it has happened before.

I thought, since it has been proven that my thoughts are golden… and accurate like a political poll…  that with age, Katie would begin to understand consequences and protect her hide and just go to sleep when we told her to.  Look, just because I have three kids does not make me any more schooled on what the hell to do with them, OK?

Things are worse than ever.   Add to the fiasco three dogs who like to chase the possums off of our back porch at 2am and I am a well- rested, able- minded person who should be operating heavy machinery.

I thought to validate my point on this blog, I would track my last three nights of the night owl vs. the insomniac on barley.

Sunday we went to a wedding on the beach.  The girls rolled in sand, ran into the ocean in their pretty sun dresses and had a grand old time.  Like normal children, Sarah and Megan slept all the way home.  Katie sat in her seat, eyes rimmed in red tiredness refusing to allow them to close.  We’d look back and think “there she goes” and then she  wouldn’t…  go.

So we got home and I let them watch a 15 minute bedtime story on demand and they all three went straight to bed.  It was great.  But sometime during the night Katie ended up in bed with us.  So I know she didn’t sleep through the night.

The next day, exhausted from a festive day, and despite my many attempts to stop it, Katie fell asleep on the couch from 2:30 to 6pm.  I woke her 4 times…  she would sit up, I’d walk away and she’d go right back to sleep.  I knew I was in trouble for bedtime.

At 8pm, their bedtime, I attempted to get Katie into bed.  I even told her when she protested that she could read books as long as she stayed in her room quietly.  Go ahead, guess what time that little princess went to bed!  Go ahead, I’ll go fetch another beer while you think.

2 : 3 0 A  M!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I kid you not!  2:30 in the freaking fracking morning!  I was flabbergasted, frustrated, tired, sad and all around done with her.  Though controversial, I know, I did spank her.  I took away toys, clothes, princesses, her college fund…  nothing worked.  I sat outside of her room and if I heard a noise, I placed her back in her bed without saying a word.  I sat there for over an hour and a half.  Half asleep, half in tears.

Mercifully, after she passed out, I dissolved onto the couch calculating that I should be able to get at least 5 hours of sleep before the baby got up.  Or 10 minutes.  Megan was up.  Let her cry, let her cry, let her cry….  oh heck.  I nurse her for a minute and she goes back down.

2:50, I collapse on the couch.

Have you met Sarah?  No?  Well she introduced herself to me at 3:15am telling me that she peed in her bed.  Fan – tas – tic.

I change her sheets and her pull – up and put her back down.

Ahhh – the couch…

Scratch,scratch, scratch….  damned dogs.

I get up, turn off the alarm, open the door and welcome the insane barking at whatever animal decided to come to close to the house.  After about an hour of consistent terrier mix barking, I throw my blanket off and let the stupid mutts back in.

What time is it now?  Oh, time to get up.  Welcome to your day with about 2 hours of sleep.  It should be one for the record books.

I follow even more advice and force Katie, who is three going on four, to get up out of bed at 8:30am giving her a grand total of 6 hours of sleep.  Waaaayyy less than she needed.  She is cranky, mean, tired, irritable, and moody all day long.  Basically it was like having a little mini me walk around.  Except her hair and skin are way better than mine.

All day, I think….  “Just get to 7:30pm and you can put her back to bed.  She is soooooo tired!”  H A!

7:30 comes and I pick up a very tired Katie, help her say her prayers and tuck her into bed.  She seems ok with it and I think maybe, I have hit the jackpot and will have a soon sleeping high- maintenance, night owl dreaming very soon.

H  A  H  A!!!

7:32pm, my husband gets home and Sarah, who I am getting milk for to take her to bed, jumps up and screams “DADDY!” as loud as her lungs will let her.  My children are very, very loud.  They get it from me.

Out pops Katie from her room.  And thus begins another fun night of tug – o – sleep.

Even with my husband’s help, we don’t get Katie back down until after 11pm.   Mind you, she has had all of 6 hours of sleep in over 24 hours and has been the crank de resistance all day!  But, you know, 11 is better than 2:30 so we settle in for a good nigth’s sleep.

Megan….  drat – what happened to my sleep through the night baby?  Oh yes, tooth #6.  Crap.  She woke up needing attention at 11:15, 12:33, 2:46 and 5am.  Sarah, never wanting to be left out lest we adorn her with middle child syndrome, chooses this night to wake at midnight, 3am and 6am.  Katie crawls in bed with us at 1am and proceeds to edge me slowly out of bed until, again, I end up on the damned couch.

In the end, the couch was good again as the dogs started barking a 2:48am, as I am trying to ignore Megan for another 3- 7 minutes, I let them out to chase yet another varmet that stepped into their territory.  As I listened, exhausted, to my dogs barking inscesively, I begin to play a little game with myself.  If Bud bars, I get to sleep on my left side.  But if Lexi barks, I get to sleep on my back.  If Ali bays, I get to move out.

I am still here so you know Ali never bayed.  Bitch.  I did find it amusing flipping myself from my left to my back though…. intermittently getting up to tend to one screaming child or the other.  It was like a carnival ride for my fat cells after a while.

So, after getting my good nights sleep, I woke at 6am to start my day.  Drugs – check.  Kahlua – check.  Coffee – triple check.

I, again, woke Katie at 8:30am in an attempt to put her back down a mere 11 hours later.  Repeat cranky drama queen from the day before and up the anti with two other tired children who can’t seem to understand that when it is dark out-  YOU SLEEEEEPPPP!!!!

Oops, sorry – did I wake your kids?  So sorry!

Fast forward to tonight.  My husband is coming home around 8 so I see a perfect opportunity to get my little heathens in bed at 7.  They are all rubbing their eyes, snapping at each other and obviously in dire need of some shut eye.

I go with Katie first.  Amazingly, she gets on her pull- up, puts on her nightie and curls up into bed.  Sarah is next.  She fights, protests “I no wanna go to bed!”.  Too bad sister…  too bad!  In between one of her tantrums and kicking episodes with her door (this is new and will have to be nipped – nipped I say!), I get Megan down.  She protests slightly but soon drifts off to her happy place.

After dealing with Sarah for 45 minutes, she finally goes down.  All of this time, I hear not a peep from Katie and assume she is sleeping soundly.

Ahhhh…..  success.  I post on Facebook, open a beer, field the call from my husband that he is on his way and start to prep dinner.

I hear something…. noooooooooo……

I turn around and there stands Katie.  Now, I had told Katie that every time she came out of her room this evening, I would take a princess dress.  We were out of dresses within 30 minutes.

I must have taken Katie back to her room 20 to 30 times tonight.  We go through the regular routine, again cementing our names in the “how to be insane” handbook by repeating the same actions night after night and expecting different results.  Except tonight, I am really, really, really, really, really tired.  My patience is shot.  I am drained, confused, bitter and just plain done with all of this bedtime shit.

She had received a swat earlier in the evening that did nothing at all to sway her.  At 9:45, I kneeled in front of her and told her that she was about to get a real spanking because we were almost 3 hours and 20 trips to her room into bedtime and she was disobeying me over and over again.  I turned her around, and swatted her padded bottom 5 times!  She hung her head and headed to her room and I started dozing off in bed thinking I was done.

One hour later she is still up.  In tears, I gave up.  I told her we were not going to keep putting her in her room and if she wanted to stay up all night, that was fine with me but I was going to bed and she was to not bother me.  She crawls in bed next to me and proceeds to tell me all about her princesses and their weddings.  I take a deep brath.  “I’ll try once more.” I thought.

I picked her up, put her in her bed and told her I loved her.  I walked out, slumped my shoulders because I heard the baby crying and closed Katie’s door.

By the time I got done tending to the baby, I checked the video monitor and see that Katie is mercifully, finally, hopefully asleep.  3 hours, 48 minutes later.

The fact that I made it through another night time battle makes me super mom.  No one can tell me differently.

I now sit, blogging, listening for another child to need me – I’ve had to get up 3 times since Katie went to sleep to help Sarah and Megan with various ailments – blogging and scouring the Internet for more ideas for helping my child go to sleep.  Taking notes on fail proof strategies that have failed, reading horror stories of what the lack of sleep can do to a child, and basically kicking myself for being uneducated enough to let it get to this point.

I have even lost the will to finish my Bud Light.  No, no – don’t worry, I feel it coming back…  ahhhhhhhhh…  there it is.

In the end – it is a battle I have to fight and a war I have to win.  Because I need time to be me and I need time to sleep and I need time to recharge.  And she needs time to do the same.  So I keep fighting, praying, trying everything everyone tells me and hoping that by the time she is old enough to sneak out, she’ll be too tired and simply go to sleep.