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Monday, February 13, 2012

Why is it so hard to sleep?

Why is it so hard to get kids to sleep? Like parents across the country, I laughed at the book Go the F--- To Sleep (read by Samuel L. Jackson & satisfyingly vulgar so be warned), but it was a bitter, ironic laugh. I have thought it many, many times.

I admit I have not done an exhaustive reading of all the sleep-help books out there. I've skimmed a few and retain some vague tips that I've probably confused. Websites read my mind and send me excellent advice that I usually forget to follow. We know about maintaining routine and returning them to their beds blah blah blah.

We were never into co-sleeping, but one of my relatives did it for a long time. I remember reading that the typical American practice of encouraging young children to sleep on their own is unnatural. But cultures all over the world have unique sleeping expectations for children.

In our house, the plan is to have our kids sleep in their own beds, in their own rooms. It's how we were raised and it's how we're raising them. But my kids seem to enjoy protesting this arrangement.

When they were young they rattled the gates like vicious beasts. Now that they are old enough to open the gates, the resistance continues in subtle, more skillful ways.

We have made blankets & pillows into elaborate & appealing structures like cozy little birdy nests, race cars, caves, houses, tree houses, dump trucks, even ice cream sundaes, to encourage them to stay in their beds.

We have lamps that spin and shoot psychedelic designs on the wall meant to hypnotize them into sleep.

We play music.

We have water cups and bedtime bears.

We have the coolest superhero sheets, movie character sheets, NFL sheets (both AFC and NFC), and incredibly soft blankets.

We turn off the music.

We pat backs and bottoms.

We rub heads.

We've tried aromatherapy sprays on pillows. (ok, that was my idea, my husband wasn't so keen on it.)

We've tried sticker charts. We tried penalties.

I watch them roll and contort their bodies into the most uncomfortable positions and they claim they want to sleep that way.

They beg for figurines or markers to use in bed and claim it will help them sleep.

They kick all the blankets off and then weep when they are cold.

They ask for snacks, endless snacks.

They never want to sleep. I always want to sleep. My mother claims when I was young, I would announce authoritatively that I was going to bed. Apparently that is not a trait any of my children have inherited.

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