The sleep thing, part 1: bedtime

[Note: I still think sleep regressions are largely bull dookie, but for those of you curious how I tackled Ben’s recent refusal to sleep, here’s a quick update to this recent post.]

Here’s the thing about sleep.

There’s no universal standard for sleep requirements. Science says, generally, that 8 hours (give or take, of course) is what you should shoot for. Science also says that we should sleep in split shifts, like our ancestors may or may not have. Science also also says that sleep is a construct and we’re all of us always asleep because we’re actually all plugged into simulations, kind of like in The Matrix.


Anecdotally, my father sleeps less than five hours a night. I am a split (read: terrible) sleeper, usually awake for an hour or more in the middle of the night. Quinn sleeps as many hours as his schedule will allow, but has trouble falling asleep when he first goes to bed. It seems perfectly logical to me that our kid would have this same struggle.

What I have tried:

  • Cry it out
  • Pat and settle
  • Ferber method
  • Gerber method
  • Method acting
  • Graduated extinction
  • Matriculated extinction
  • Whatever, none of it works

What I haven’t tried:

  • Rum, per my mother-in-law’s insistence “That’s what we always did!”

Ben will scream for HOURS if left alone. Going in to check on him just pisses him off even more. It never occurred to me that some kids have to be taught how to go to sleep. As a concept, I will tell you I am seriously struggling with that. Who needs to be taught how to sleep? Human children, apparently.

What’s working for now:

  • A solid bedtime routine
  • Melatonin at bedtime, per pediatrician’s instructions
  • Cutting out tv time before bed

But the bedtime battles. Those are, for now, almost entirely under control. A solid bedtime routine and melatonin supplements, per Ben’s pediatrician. Gummies that taste like blackberries that he is very into, and liquid for nights he’s being a butt about it. A bedtime routine isn’t something that I had given much thought to, because bedtime was always the easy part — until a couple of months ago. At that point we decided to just… let him stay up. His mood wasn’t affected by late bedtimes, so we didn’t see the harm in it.

Except to, you know, our sex life and general non-parenting hours in the evening.

Anyway, bedtime is simple: TV off at 7:15. Melatonin. Bath. Jammies. Snack. Play or read. Cuddle. Bed. By night five, he was falling asleep mid-story. I plan on weaning him off the melatonin gradually starting in the next week or two, as the idea of long-term use if not strictly necessary makes me uneasy. So bedtime is a breeze now, but he’s waking up in the middle of the night again. Mornings are groggy, angry messes. Daycare drop off is one big meltdown.

I feel like I’m running hurdles but the hurdles are too closely together. When I’ve just barely cleared the first one, my feet are already bumping up against the second. The first hurdle gets knocked over when I attempt to clear the second hurdle too quickly. This is an uneven metaphor, but it’s close. I can only overcome one hurdle successfully at a time. This is a pain in the ass for me; I like to get everything done all at once, or I’m afraid it will never get done.

Ben’s bedtime was the first hurdle. Mornings are next, then daycare drop offs. The biggest hurdle, night wakings, is the final hurdle — for now. Wish me luck. Send coffee.


All The Bad Habits I Blame On My Baby

There is a magical, never-ending pile of dirty dishes in the sink

My excuse: The baby just keeps me running around in circles! He’s so needy!

What I mean: No, the baby does not need tending every single minute. I’m just too tired to wash the dishes every night.

The floors haven’t been swept in at least a week and a half

My excuse: The Roomba is acting up and I need my husband to fix it.

What I mean: We have a Roomba but I hate it because it requires as much attending as the baby does, so the floor just don’t get done.

The recycling bin needs to constantly be taken out

My excuse: We’re green! We just make SO MUCH recycling waste that our bin is always full.

What I mean: I am so tired of carrying heavy things that I just do not care.

Never, ever being caught up on laundry

I don’t actually have an excuse for this. Work clothes, weekend clothes, and a billion effing baby outfits because he poops in literally everything we put on him.

I am always wearing a stained shirt

My excuse: Babies grab things. Constantly.

What I mean: If you care in the least that I have a stain on my shirt and you aren’t signing my paychecks or sleepling with me, I don’t really give a damn what you think of my appearance.

My bag is always overflowing to the point of not being useful

My excuse: Better prepared! These are all essentials. Especially the extra diaper, packet of food, Target receipts, candies, and three pairs of headphones.

What I mean: I am an unorganized, messy person and I’m sorry you care so much about what the inside of my purse looks like.

My unwashed, often un-brushed hair

My excuse: Messy buns are in! Mom chic! It’s carefreeeeeeee.

What I mean: He’s just going to pull my hair anyway and I don’t have the time or money to get it done so fuck it.

I am constantly late

My excuse: Baby needed a bottle. Then fell asleep. Then wanted to go for a walk around the neighborhood.

What I mean: My brain is entirely focused on securing the survival of my offspring. I do not care any more about your Cookies & Poetry meet up that I said I would attend.

… or completely forgetting that I’m supposed to be somewhere

My excuse: See above. Add in a tantrum or surprise vomiting.

What I mean: I literally missed a doctor’s appointment while writing this post. Also I never sleep, and it is affecting my brain.