The sleep shuffle


My husband gave me the kindest compliment this morning in ages. It wasn’t about how I look, or what I’d cooked or made, but it was about how I handled myself in the middle of the night. You see, we are currently sleep training our 4-year-old for the, oh I don’t know, 678th time. And I generally do NOT behave well in the middle of the night when I am awoken up to 12 times over the course of the night.

Harper has been shit house at sleep since she turned about 8 months old. Who knows why, or how, but she just plain sucks at it. I have written endless posts about this so I’ll leave it at that. For the past, I can’t even remember how long, she has been coming into our bedroom and sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Yep, like a dog. I refused to have her in bed with us a second longer, and I was too exhausted and just plain over any kind of sleep training that I gave up. I mean really, WHO CARES. She was sleeping. We were sleeping. Everyone was happy. When we went up to the farm over Christmas Harper was sleeping in a bunk bed. Now she sleeps in a bunk bed at home, but she got to sleep on the TOP bunk bed. I told her this meant that when she woke up, she wouldn’t be able to climb down, she would just have to suck it up, call out for me and then go back to sleep. And I’ll be damned, she did it. Every night for 9 nights (one night I was too tired to get up so I got lazy and whacked her into bed with us). EVERY NIGHT. She just did.


And then we got home and the old patterns emerged. Except I played tough cop and told her there was no more mattress for you! She COULD do it, had JUST DONE IT, and by GOD SHE WOULD DO IT AGAIN.

Except of course she isn’t. She hasn’t. And she didn’t.

And because I am a determined bastard sometimes I am not backing down. I’m trying to move forward, and so we are once again going back, and I can barely see straight from the endless wake ups. The girl just wakes up. And she can’t get back to sleep. And she isn’t upset, or angry, or scared…just awake. So she reads for a bit. Changes her mind and moves bed hoping THAT will do the trick (back into her old bedroom, back into the guest bedroom, just standing over me watching me sleep) and eventually after the 15th time, she goes back to sleep.

And I’m tired. But happy that even though we are going back, I’m doing better at it. And she will get there. And one day there will be no sleep issues…she will sleep….like her sister sleeps. And life will be good and there will be a different challenge that we will face.

Getting some good sleep lately?
Isn’t it amazing when you don’t get any, how obsessed and panicked you become about it?


  1. Gail Virgona says

    Oh lordy me she says trying to see straight after a night of no f-ing sleep either. We have exhibit A – Luca who sleeps like the dead always has bless him. Exhibit B – Leo who sleeps like an octopus on ice and usually between us in our bed which means NO sleep except the octopus. Exhibit C – Grace who has decided to wake every 2 hours and stay awake for 2 hours which means I slept from 2am – 6am last night which is NOT enough. I am tried and cranky today and will probably cry sometime before dinner. We have tried all of the above. In bed, mattress on floor, stern mummy, nice mummy, me on mattress etc etc I am in the -whatever works I give up you win phase – so I applaud you for getting tough for the 678th time. Let me know how it goes. May the force be with you.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I don’t know if I’ll make the end of the week. I mean REALLY WHO CARES right? I’m sure she won’t be doing this when she is 15. May the coffee be with you today Gail xx

      • Gail Virgona says

        That is my parenting mantra! Will he/she being doing this when they’re 15? The answer has always been no. Makes me feel so much better. We’ll probably be bribing them to come and have a cuddle when they’re 15.

    • Andrea Hamann says

      ok, this makes my night look like heaven. well done you for still being alive!

  2. Lisa Aherne says

    No children to keep me awake, but menopause does a good job of it! 3.00 am and where’s the party? I have learned to use the time to read, and being retired can nap during the day if needed. Oh, and I do usually go back to sleep around 4.30 for another hour or so. I hope you get back to good sleep soon.

  3. Emma Steendam says

    I am exhausted tired. Pregnancy exhausted tired, I don’t want to think about newborn exhausted tired right now, or 2 year old tired, or even 4 year old tired. I’m going to have a nap. Zzzzzzzzz.

  4. You know I don’t have kids but I had THE WORST NIGHTS SLEEP LAST NIGHT. I’m just cranky and dysfunctional today. Awful. I feel your pain.

  5. Reading that has made me terrified. Mr 2.5 yr old has been a perfect sleeper from 6 months (touch wood) but Miss 7 months is giving us a run for our money – I’m up at least twice a night resettling and sometime she wakes and parties in her cot for an hr or so until the mood to sleep strikes again. I’m hoping it’s developmental but reading about your gorgeous Harper having trouble since 8 months has made me feel fear and dread. Fingers and toes crossed they both come out the other side sooner rather than later. May a full night sleep be with you soon. Jx

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Oh don’t be panicked! Every kid is different – I’m sure it’s just a stage/phase/whatever 🙂

  6. Hi Beth, I have seen your ongoing struggle with sleeping and totally sympathise – I have a nearly 4 year old and 2 and three quarter year old…say no more. You’ve probably heard it a hundred times but you never know, have you looked into the whole sleep apnoea thing and/or what is actually waking her up? I can’t remember if you’ve talked about a sleep study before or not? Just a thought. Keep strong, I see being a ‘determined bastard’ as a great trait…sadly our children often inherit our great traits! Nikky

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      She had sleep apnoea and had her adenoids removed from it, We could look into a sleep study I’m sure…thanks for the tip.

  7. Julijana Griffiths says

    Wait till they hit teens when you can’t get them out of their bloody bed! That’s guaranteed to happen.

  8. I’m with ya Beth. Olivia is 15 months and still sharing my mattress and having boobie ALL NIGHT LONG.

  9. fauxfuschia says

    I feel for you. Send her to live with me. I’m awake all through the night too. You know how there are those clinics for bad baby sleepers? Do they have them for bad 4 year old sleepers? Good luck with the training x

  10. Oof. I am fully conversant with sleep obsession. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Both were terrible sleepers as babies (waking every two hours or less and requiring rocking back to sleep). Admittedly (not without training!), they are better these days, but my eldest son wakes almost every night to visit the loo, and he feels the need for supervision! My youngest has been doing well, but had a somewhat inexplicable crying spell last night just after we fell asleep. The prospect of losing precious sleep made me rather frantic! No matter what happens in the night they still both wake at around 5am, so I never feel spectacularly well-rested 😉

    Good luck this week with Harper. ‘We’ do really care because ‘we’ have been there, and will invariably be there again 🙂

  11. Janelle Spear says

    You know when Harper finally sleeps through the night, you will probably wake up 10 times waiting for her to come in!! 🙂 I know how you feel when you don’t get enough sleep, everything annoys you no matter how little it is!! My husband broke his hand last week so sleeping with him was a pain in the arse, because I was so conscious of hitting his hand that I didn’t sleep at all. But fixed that by shifting him downstairs to the guest room and now I have had the best sleep ever!! I think that will change very soon as today he was off to get a proper cast put on!! Bugger!! Good luck with the sleep training!!

  12. Jackie Clark says

    Our Willow is 4 and every night without fail she comes up to our room. I’ve tried being tough but just give in so now when I hear her feet thumping on the floorboards I just sit up, she climbs in the middle and precedes to have a great nights sleep. I on the other hand most nights end up in her bed when I can’t take the kicks in the back anymore!! I’m sure this isn’t the correct parenting method but with two other kids, a husband and work I don’t have the time or patience to persist! Good luck Beth Xx

  13. Reannon Hope says

    I am curently losing my mind with sleep deprivation. the baby is 8 1/2 months old, still feeding 1-2 times per night & wakes between 1 & 5 times per night. You thnk being my 3rd kid I’d be prepeared but the thing is my older two were FANTASTIC sleepers! I was completly unprepared to still be having broken sleep at this time. What makes it doubly worse is
    1. I am 21 weeks pregnant so am tired from growing another human as well as tired from the lack of sleep.
    2. You know my hubby does FIFO so its just me in the middle of the night/early in the morning, nobody to push & say ” your turn”.
    3. I am so flipping scared I’m not going to have this sleeping caper sorted by the time the next baby arrives & I’ll be some sort of zombie!!
    Some night swhen I am rocking the baby for what feels like the 500th time that night I just sit & cry. Not because I’m sad or anything but because I’m so fucking tired! I find myself googling stuff all the time trying to find the answer to our sleep problems but so far no luck….I just have to keep telling myself it’ll happen, he’ll sleep & I’ll be OK but then I read posts like this & think ” shit! I can’t do this for 4 years!!!”….may the sleep gods be with you Beth & stay strong!!!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Oh Reannon! Cry away…it’s the bloody pits. Don’t panic. Try not to think ahead, no good can come from it and of COURSE it will only be all the bad bits that you focus on. You’ll be right. We’ll be right. IT WILL ALL BE OK.

      And THIS is why I will never have another kid. I don’t have it in me. Not mentally at least.

      Good luck to you. I take my hat off to you 1 million times over x

  14. Lisa Mckenzie says

    She will get better at it Beth I don’t know hen or how or why but she will,my daughter was exactly the same and even as an adult she still has problems some nights I think she takes after me I am not the best sleeper and prefer my own bed,though it is usually pain that keeps me awake.I wish you all the best in your quest for a sleeping happy Harper xx

  15. I very rarely get a solid night’s sleep; a dummy falls from the youngest’s mouth, a toy is lost from the oldest’s bed, or there’s a nightmare, or a drink needed or something. Nothing majorly disruptive and time consuming, shuffle down the hallway from my bedroom with eyes half closed, fix the problem and then shuffle zombie-like back to bed. Back to sleep relatively easily. But I know that I am not getting restorative sleep as I am tired. Always tired.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      There will be a time we get it I’m sure…I have had a handful of good nights sleeps in about 7 years…maybe longer!!

  16. Vange Asuncion Langford says

    I feel your pain literally – i just spent half an hour getting the 6 month old to sleep after being awake for 4 hours! Last night I got up maybe 6 times to put dummy in, feed, put dummy in, re-wrap etc…I’m about to jump into the sleep training wagon soon this time trying a different technique. The first one (I read the Ferber/Ferger book from the library) worked for my son who’s 4 now & has been an awesome sleeper since he was 18 months old I’d say. But, I am not really looking forward to sleep training Miss 6 months, I have a feeling she’s more stubborn & strong willed… need coffee directly pumped through me until the “training” starts to work.

  17. I do feel your pain too Beth. Since we lost Hamish, Frase comes in every night and sleeps in our bed. We also have to sit on the end of his bed so he goes to sleep. He’s the same age as Harper. Now we have a newborn, our bedroom is busier than Manhattan! I hope it gets better For you soon. Xx

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Oh Rach thank you. And congrats! I have been thinking of you all – hope it’s all going well xxx

  18. shoppegirls says

    Oh the memories when my girls used to wake at all times through the night and I used lay on the floor in their room or in bed with them. Or my eldest used to always slide in the middle of our bed. Although it is tough at the time it does get better eventually. Keep up the good work.

  19. Debbie Lee says

    We have an almost 2 year old, who slept around this time last year right through for a few months, illnesses return in winter and he has not done so since, even now when he is well. I dread this continuing, and he won’t sleep in our bed I have actually tried! He will only sleep on the lounge with me next to him, very uncomfortable. May need to look into sleep training again too, feeling your pain.

  20. Alli @ ducks on the dam says

    When you get to the other side – whenever that may be – you will forget. And you will sleep. Our second was a baby sleeper but not toddler / young kid sleeper. Just sucked at it. And then one day…… she did it.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I know. Rob still reminds me what Daisy was like when she was little and I look at him like is he mad?! She was worse!! And now? She sleeps. SOUNDLY. ALL NIGHT. Every night. And I can’t remember a thing!

  21. Ruth Dettman says

    I know it sounds bad but some days the only thing that kept me going was knowing this was a “phase” and they would move out of the house when they were 18 or so….for some reason that gave me comfort. 🙂 I really sucked at dealing with babies and toddlers!

  22. I’m feeling your tiredness.
    My second child used to wake up several (19) times a night, wander into our room and whisper “mum, mum” until I’d wakeup and take her back to bed. I’d get this cold feeling in my tummy revelry time she did it.
    I m going to tell you this, and I don’t want you to panic, but, that lasted until she was 9!!
    Hen she started sleeping through and I feel pregnant!!!!
    She is now 23, all grown up and….sleeps through the night !

  23. Gibbergunyah says

    My children are NOT born sleepers. I come of a family of dead-to-the-world sleepers. My Mum asks pointed questions about whether my husband’s side of the family are good sleepers. However, our boys are now 1 and 3 and sleep all night, most nights in the same room. It’s been an interesting path, and we do have to re sleep train them regularly when things go awry (Christmas, holidays, illness, anyone?). Richard Ferber’s book Solve Your Child’s Sleep problems is the goods. For babies under 12 months I found The Sensible Sleep Solution by Sarah Blunden and Angie Willcocks helpful. Best wishes to all struggling. Sleep deprivation is a shocker.

  24. Rebekah Sullivan says

    I’ve had 6 bad sleepers. Yep, call me stupid, but I couldn’t help myself, I just wanted to keep having kids. I mean I wasn’t sleeping anyway right, I may as well be night feeding. And now that our youngest is 4 and sleeps through about 4 out of 7 nights our 10 year old has been told a horror story by some child(I would love to call a brat) at school and now she is camped out in our bedroom and has dragged her 8 year old brother in to sleep beside her. So it’s fair to say she is terrified. Not sure how to deal with that one because she is also a Type 1 Diabetic so when she gets hysterical her blood glucose levels go dangerously low so I can’t just put her to bed and ignore her. And then once she does start sleeping in her own room I still have to get up at least twice every night to test her. So if you need a break, just shuffle Harper off to my place, I’ll be up anyway!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Wow! 6! You deserve a medal. And a parade! Well bloody done! You poor thing with your biggest little one…nothing worse than feeling so scared about something is there? Hope it passes soon x

    • Gibbergunyah says

      Oh my, I’m in awe of your stamina, your patience, everything. How is it done? Amazing.

      • Rebekah Sullivan says

        Thanks Gibbergunyah but I think stamina is something ingrained in mums, you just do what you’ve got to do and get on with it. I always say it doesn’t matter how many kids are keeping you awake, lost sleep is lost sleep and it’s the Pitts!

  25. Mandi Jones says

    I feel your pain! My wee girl didn’t sleep through the night until after she turned 8. Yes. 8. EIGHT!!! But just like your Harper, whenever we went away or she stayed at her Nan’s she slept through then at home again it’d be back to the same old wake up one, two, three, fifteen times a night. Drove me to the edge of sleep deprived mentalness. Somehow, just after her 8th birthday, something clicked and she slept. Not always peacefully or quietly, but she slept. And so did I. At last.

  26. Kylie Gellert says

    Hi Beth. Just a thought: have you consulted your GP and demanded an ENT review? Adenoids can grow back, and sometimes lack of sleep can be caused by tonsils (as can bed wetting and other “behavioural issues”). Otherwise, maybe a chiropractor might offer some relief?

  27. Andrea Hamann says

    oh man. i hope i don’t have that to look forward to. please if there is a god, or a buddha or allah or a sleep angel or whatever…please let my son not do that.
    He has slept through 3 times in his 2 years. Usually he is up once or twice a night, usually for 20 to 30 minutes each time. Usually hot or cold I think. He has really bad temp regulation. And me, I range from functioning to that god damn awful whole body aches pushing through fog/thick mud feeling. And cranky. I get super cranky pants. Yesterday was the worst.

  28. I have a 9 month old who doesn’t sleep through the night and still wakes for a night feed. I have not slept threw the night in over a year. I dream of sleep…

  29. Amy Zempilas says

    Oh I hear you lovely. Looking back now, 2013 was all about sleep deprivation for me and I totally became obsessed by it. Last night was the first time in weeks, maybe even months that we all slept through the night. I felt like wonder woman this morning! Good luck with your sleep training lovely. A x x

  30. Karen Fiebig says

    My son slept on a mattress in our bedroom from 2 years old until 7 years old. He’s 8 now and sleeps in his bed but pretty much wakes up every other night and asks me to lay with him. He has a big bed so that’s ok but it’s taken a long time for him to get to a point where he’ll sleep on his own!! Don’t stress, your daughter won’t still be sleeping with you when she’s 16 so relax and get some sleep. My husband missed my son when he moved beds (he slept on his side) and if one of us is away one of the kids will always sleep with us. I enjoy it, maybe it’s my skewed version of co-sleeping???? Karen x

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Not at all Karen – I think it can be very comforting for both parties. Thanks for your advice – much appreciated 🙂

  31. Shan Charlesworth says

    My second daughter also became a shocking sleeper around four months. She is now three and only recently have we had full nights of sleep. I tried everything. I was so fucking tired and my relationship with her was starting to wear thin. And for some reason, I decided to take her off all gluten. Hard core – no gluten in anything. She now sleeps – the majority of the time – in her own bed and for a full night. I feel like a completely different person. Shan xo


  1. […] January we started some good old fashioned sleep training. Again. Because I just hasn’t had enough […]

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