Now, we have already established that the days of my life is just a slice of Perfection Pie, so you might think that is true of the nights, as well. You might think that. You'd be wrong. Oh, so wrong.
When it comes to sleep, the night has never been my friend. As a child, I was held hostage to constant, horrendous nightmares. I dreaded going to bed. As soon as my mother would click off my light, I was paralyzed by fear until sleep finally took over. This was made much worse if I was unable to fall asleep before my parents went to bed. I felt a proximal safety while they were awake but that was completely lost when I would see that hall light go dark. I would then lie there miserable and afraid, sometimes for hours. All I wanted was to sleep in the safety of my parent's bed.
This problem has followed me well into adult life. No! I don't want to sleep with my parents. But I have had sleep problems all my life. As a teen, I learned a few tricks. I was allowed a TV in my room. I could then fall asleep to the warmth of a technicolor screen. And as a college student living on my own, my insomnia became a tool rather than a hindrance. When I no longer had parents who cared if I banged around the house all night, I learned to use the time. I was comfortable with 4-5 hours of sleep (and 2-3 hours was not unusual). In that time, my house was immaculate, and I was never behind in my schoolwork. (Oh! What I would do now to be able to live a 19-20 hour day. Alas!) I still needed the television on almost constantly but no longer confined to a bed in a dark, quiet room, my mind was not allowed to run amok. And if I woke from a nightmare, there was the TV waiting to say I was not alone.
So as a parent, I was very concerned about my children feeling safe at bedtime. I was going to be available to them as they needed -- going to sleep, in the middle of the night, whenever. They were never going to suffer as I did, darn it! Well, any of you who watch Dr. Phil know, you create what you fear. And I created terrible sleepers.
I inadvertently taught them that they NEEDED me to sleep. To feel safe in their beds. Which has not only affected their sleep -- it has destroyed mine. No longer an energetic 20-something who could survive with mere moments of shut-eye, I crave sleep. No, I need, Need, NEED sleep. And this is pretty difficult to get when one arm has lost all circulation holding a six year old and ribs are in danger of cracking as a toddler walks her way up and down my side ALL night long. (And of course, all of this happened on one half of a bed -- you know Dad got his full half of the bed!) I have not slept longer than 90 minutes in a row in YEARS. I mean it, years. No hyperbole.
So with last week's move, we got the kiddos a really cool new bunk bed set and insisted that the days (well, nights) of Mom's bed being an Open House were over. But we live in an apartment so the old Supernanny/Ferber/Whatever? method that involved white knuckling hours of my children screaming in misery was out of the question. So I have resorted to rewards (bribes) and staying in the bedroom until they fall asleep (for now). And we are making progress. In fact, my three year old is sleeping better than ever. She has trouble going down but once she's asleep, she is out! And stays out. My six year old is having a harder time but he's doing it with a little middle of the night coaxing.
So you would think that I was doing the happy dance, right? Well, sort of (still not comfortable with that phrase -- sort of. Oh well. Back to topic.) I realize that in some ways, I have replaced my sleep issues with my kids'. Now that they are out of the bed, I need to learn to sleep again. UGH! Will I ever conquer the night? And how do I make sure my kids still know that I am always there for them, even after dark, without going back to having a family bed?
What about you? Do you have issues with the Sandman? Do you let your kids in your bed? If so, when and how did they become independent? Sleepless minds want to know.