I’m writing this at 5:00am after being up for 1.5 hours. First Jule and Sophia who were crying. While soothing them back to sleep with their blankies, milk and white noise I have John yelling and banging on his door “quiet Sophia!!! Go to bed! Stop it!”. Great. The start of my day. Which has unfortunately become the typical start to my day.
A good morning is the girls sleeping until 6am and John up at 5am.
A great morning is John sleeping in until 6am and the girls 7/8am.
A bad morning is what’s been going on for two weeks. John up at 4am. The girls up around the same time or earlier.
All of this has been a definite improvement from when Sophia and Jule were first born. I got maybe 1-2 hours at a time waking 3-5 times at night with them until they were 16 months old. So that is the positive side of this! It has improved!
But I think I’ve hit my tipping point. Breaking point. Level of insanity. Whatever you want to call it. I’ve had it!
I’ve tried later bedtime, earlier bedtimes, naps, no naps, lavender oil, massage…I’ve given them all a try at various times and to no avail. It’s seriously a mystery to me. The latest he has slept in over the past month was one day when he fell asleep on the couch at 4:30pm and was out cold. I mean there was NO waking him up. So I decided to roll the dice and put him to bed. Sure enough, he slept until 6am! I don’t get it.
I’ve read that a lot of kids with Autism have sleep issues. Whether it’s getting them to sleep or getting up REALLY early. I’ve always prided myself on keeping with a good bedtime routine and not messing around with it too much. Bath time, PJ’s, watch a short cartoon, brush teeth, read stories, kiss goodnight (and boo boo’s that appear out of nowhere). But some things I haven’t been so great about. Here is a list of things I plan on changing in hopes I will get some more sleep, and in turn, become a better parent. But most of all, I’m hoping this will improve the amount of tantrums, destructive behaviour, and aggressiveness that has become more frequent with this ridiculously early start to the day for John. This is affecting his behaviour hugely. This just HAS to happen.
– remove all toys from John’s bedroom. No more playtime in his room. It’s for sleep only!
– increase the amount of activity (walks, trampoline, bouncy castle, playground). This has been a challenge in the winter and because John won’t just go jump on his bouncy castle without someone else, so I’m going to make a point of getting down there and jumping on that damn thing and putting aside all the other stuff on my list of “to do”.
– unscrewing his bedroom light. (He turns it on every single night) and leaving him with his night light only.
– No more TV before bedtime.
– Being more consistent with his visual aides and using them for his bedtime routine. Religiously.
– No more TV in the morning. A lot during the past 2 years I’ve done things purely out of survival. Things I never thought I would do. I remember thinking to myself before I had kids “my kids will never watch more than 30 minutes of TV a day!”. When you become a parent you tend to eat your words. When John was born I really didn’t have the TV on at all. He watched some Baby Einstein every now and then. But I was pretty proud of how little TV my son watched. Then the twins were born. Ya. That TV was on a lot more than I ever thought it would be. Having a 16 month old and newborn twins to feed, change, pump milk for…it was pretty much needed when I didn’t have an extra set of hands around. So TV has been my babysitter when I need an hour of sleep, talk on the phone, return emails, or just have a coffee in peace for 20 minutes. John’s up at 4am? Won’t go back to sleep? Won’t stay in his room? Give him the iPad to watch Netflix on for an hour so I can get.some.sleep. That was awesome…until he smashed it when the battery died. Ya. Not cool. Since then it’s been TV in the living room. It keeps him occupied for about 30-60min before he’s jumping on me or body slamming me. When you have 3 kids and are doing it on your own, you do what you’ve got to do.
– Cutting back sugar. John’s diet is not the best. He’s a PICKY eater. He likes to eat the same things over, but that’s a whole different post. I’ve been pretty good about not giving him a lot of sugar, but I think there is definitely some room for improvement (isn’t their always?).
So there it is. My list of things to do. I’ve been told by John’s therapy team to try and tackle one big issue at a time. So here it goes. Let’s hope it doesn’t take long. I really truly believe that with more sleep for both of us we will be far better to each other and I will have far more energy to tackle all the challenges in a day.
Wish me luck!!