Next up in the night time diaries is Jo from Conflab corner. Jo has some fab posts relating to her experience with raising children who have ADHD and autism. I think Jo’s blog would be of great reassurance for parents dealing with the same situations as her. Jo’s night time diaries is an interesting one as night times can be so different with children who had ADHD and autism.
Hi, my name is Jo and I blog at Conflab corner. It is a blog about a range of things. I don’t consider myself a parent blogger per se, although obviously, as a parent, it’s something that comes up! My little corner of the internet is there for me to chat about the things that are important to me, whether it’s my kids, health issues, the weather, some new gadget I’ve come across or makeup and nail polish.
How many children do you have ?
I have three children who I keep anonymous on my blog, Missy, who is 10, Boy who is 8 and Bug who is 6. Missy and Boy have autism and ADHD, which makes life interesting and adds another dimension to sleeping issues.
What is your night time routine ?
After 6pm there’s no screen time for Bug and Boy. Sometimes Missy is allowed a bit of screentime but not after 7pm. They’ve usually had a shower earlier so at 6.50 they have supper and a drink, brush teeth and then it’s bed for Bug. She needs close to 12 hours! Boy gets an hour quiet time in his bedroom playing with Lego, and then it’s lights out at 8pm. Missy has her medication (more on that later) at 8pm and goes to bed, hopefully to be asleep by 8.30 or 9pm.
Because of Missy’s autism and the meds she takes for her ADHD, she struggles to sleep. She can quite easily be up at 12 or 1am, bright eyed and bushy tailed. For this reason she has melatonin to help her sleep. Melatonin is produced by the body to tell us when it is time to sleep but autistic children often don’t produce enough of this hormone. She has to have regular breaks from it for it to keep working. Oddly enough, Boy does not struggle to sleep in the same way she does. Some nights he can still be awake after 10pm but it’s pretty rare. He just wakes up no later than 6.30am, usually with a load of random questions, like what is the biggest number!
Where do your little ones sleep?
They each have their own beds but it’s not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night and find someone snuggled up to me. Bug fidgets like mad but Missy sleeps pretty well and it’s nice to have a warm body next to me on a cold night. Boy very rarely comes in although he likes his cuddles in the morning.
Have you ever co- slept with your children ?
I never co-slept as such with any of them when they were little but I breastfed them all and I would often bring them in the bed to feed them and go back to sleep. Put it this way, it wasn’t planned co-sleeping! Because of Missy’s issues, Bug slept in my room until she was over two years old. Her cot was at the end of my bed and she very quickly learnt to climb out of the cot and onto my bed so she could snuggle in with me. She always preferred to be cuddled into me, lying on my right arm. I had a stiff neck for years!
When Missy was tiny, only a few months old, I could tell she wanted to sleep in our bed. Co-sleeping wasn’t trendy then and I wasn’t having any of it. I’d feed her, but the minute I put her down in her moses basket she would stir and scream. She wouldn’t settle in her moses basket either. So what I ended up doing was putting her in her moses basket next to my bed and lying with my arm across the top, so I was basically cuddling her in the basket.
I gradually moved further and further away over several nights until it was just my hand on her chest. Then I replaced my hand with a flat penguin comforter that Persil were giving away at the time. It did the trick and she would settle without me. She still sleeps with a stuffed version of that penguin now. She’s well known for ‘Mumble’.
Boy was quite a miserable baby. He wouldn’t sleep unless he was swaddled really tightly. I remember lying next to him, all swaddled up, and then sneaking out and away from him when he was asleep. He was hard work. He didn’t sleep during the day either. And if he fell asleep in the car and was woken up going into the house, even if it was his nap time he would NOT go back to sleep.
Is it as bad as you expected ?
I never expected night times to be as hard as they were and are. People tell you that babies don’t sleep but until you have actually lived on 2 hours sleep a night for several weeks in a row, I don’t think you really understand what it is like. I also expected to be able to get them into routines really quickly. Yep, that doesn’t happen. It varies by baby as well. Plus, you think that as they get older it will get easier but that doesn’t always happen either.
Sometimes it gets worse. Sorry! And they go to bed later too. So although they might sleep through the night, you could be dying to go to bed at 9pm but you can’t because they’re still awake! And they don’t nap either. But for the most part I would say I do sleep better than I did when they were babies.
Would you change anything about your nigh time routine ?
I don’t think I would change anything. You have to go with your instinct as a parent and the needs of the baby. I disagree with all the advice that’s given about baby not sleeping on their side/tummy/swaddled/hanging from the ceiling. You find the way your baby sleeps best and go with it. One of mine slept better on their front, another slept better on their side. I did what worked for them.
What strategies would you suggest ?
One thing I would definitely suggest is do not get into the habit of only being able to settle the baby by going on a car ride/in a buggy/tied to your back. It will only make things worse in the long run. Those habits are really hard to break and you will find yourself going out at 7pm and driving round the neighbourhood for hours for the next few years. Babies need to learn to settle on their own.Getting them to do that can be really hard but it’s worth putting the time and effort and sleepless nights in. You will have better nights sleep in the end. Also do not bother with a dummy for sleeping. You will spend more time feeling around for the stupid thing in the dark than you will sleeping because the baby is settled by it. Trust me on this one.
As they get older, if they are still having problems sleeping, look at sleep hygiene. It works for adults as well as children – I have had to practice it as I sometimes suffer from sleepless nights due to my CFS. The techniques can be found on the internet but it involves things like keeping the bedroom just for sleeping.Going to bed 15 minutes before the usual time they/you go to sleep and then gradually bringing that time back earlier and earlier, no TVs in the bedroom etc. Of course this isn’t always easy. At my sister’s house, Missy goes to sleep without her tablets, but then there’s nothing in her room there to distract her.
Also, if your kids are quite small, remember that sleepless nights are generally only a phase. I know it feels like you are never going to get a night’s sleep again but you will. It is usually only a few months out of your life.