Eyes off the game


You know one of my biggest surprises of parenting small people? Besides the fact that it is UNRELENTING? Is that you can never take your eyes off the game. The schedule. The routine. Not for a bloody minute. You know those nights where you just can’t be stuffed to get things ready when you usually do and just one missed move can bring everything to spiral out of control? Or ONE lapse. ONE moment of exhaustion, or frustration so you let your guard down and in that ONE MOMENT if your children don’t smell the weakness and swoop in…

We have spent the entire first part of this year working on Harper’s sleeping. Getting her off a mattress on the floor and into her own bed. And it worked. It was never ending trips walking her back to bed. Being firm. Being consistent. And then we were in the groove. And then we all started to get sleep.

And then?

Well of course it’s all turned to shit. A couple of nights where she walked in and let herself into bed with us while I was in a deep sleep over the school holidays and it’s completely unravelled. We have had 2 of the worst nights sleep I can remember with her over the last couple of days. Tantrums. Holy shit TANTRUMS that can only come from a 4 year old not getting what they want that last for hours. Walking her back to bed, oh say, 20+ times a night. Tears from her. Me. Fights, awful fights with Rob that can only come in the middle of the night when you are angry and tried and resentful. I am so grateful we live in the country so no one can hear what is coming out of our house in the middle of the night. And now this feeling of complete and utter failure. Disappointment.

So we’ll go back. We’ll reinforce it all again. And hope that it doesn’t take as long as this time as it did last. That even though we have taken some steps back, that we are still moving forward. Slowly. Try not to beat myself up. Try not to expect too much from someone so little. And I’ll make sure that I do not take my eyes off the game. Not for a minute.

Are you in the midst of the parenting trenches?
Here, come let me rub your back and nod knowingly.


  1. Oh darling I know just what you mean. And I think the worst thing about it all is that when you and your partner need to be the strongest team, the tiredness just turns everything to shit. The fights at these times are the WORST

    • Janelle Chapman says

      My babies are all grown up – my son has 4 under 4 1/2 including 16 month twins!!
      My daughter didn’t sleep through till she was 5 and started school! At 3 years and another baby we had had enough of refusing to go to bed, sleeplessness and coming into our bed. I, too was embarrassed by the constant crying and noise our house generated in the wee small hours.
      We told her we didn’t care if she didn’t sleep but she had to stay in her room, door closed and not come out till morning. We allowed a night light a torch books colouring pencils and soft toys.
      Her routine before bed remained the same but no coming out.
      Amazingly it worked. She was often asleep on the floor with a pencil in hand:)
      In hindsight I think it was the emotion from us that created the battle. No way could I deal with it calmly as I was soooo tired.
      Ironically she loves sleeping as a 29 yr old! She was a night owl throughout her high school years too.
      She is the most beautiful sensitive and wonderful daughter. The first years were worth it.
      Hoping this gives you some comfort.
      Nellie ( NannaNellie)

    • I turn into the nastiest person between the hours of 11pm and 5am. I just do.

  2. Oh, I hear you! My son is 2 and a half…and has just moved to a big bed with NO PROBLEMS! All day we hear about how he loves the big bed and he sleeps like a dream. So, I dropped the ball and felt a bit pleased with myself…something that I never do. THEN….the child that previously had few tantrums has screaming benders EVERY TIME we are about to sit down for a meal. Howling the house down. I don’t like it. I don’t want it. I DON’T WANT IT MUMMY.

    I am almost terrified of meal time now. I have to fight the urge to cry and howl and feel like a bad parent. And I try to remind myself that its all swings & roundabouts, while muttering “This is f*$ked under my breath!”. Hubby usually stands there, sympathetic look…and says one thing “VODKA?” Pre child, I could never understand why my friends with kids drink so much…now I get it. And I chant to myself….calm blue ocean…calm blue ocean…

    Hopefully it gets better soon.

  3. Oh man do I know what you mean. We fought this battle for two years with our oldest and it broke my spirit and beat me down. We ended up getting help from a sleep lady from yass (of all places?!). Best thing we ever did, best money we ever spent. Hang in there. Do something nice to treat yourself today. It will get better, you know she can do it. Xxxoo
    Wishing you lots of hugs, chocolate and a really good coffee.

  4. arrgghhh the shitty torture of frigging homework HELL here….shoot me.

  5. Just a thought that might make you smile in your weariness: 20 years from now she will accomplish or become something so spectacular that you will say, “Man, is she ever persistent!”

    Otherwise, I feel and remember your pain–and our boys are 35 and 40!

  6. Hayley Rose says

    I feel you. It’s dinner here.. always dinner. My kid who would eat anything just suddenly wont, “I don’t like that anymore” is a nightly phrase. Every time I make some progress it’s all undone when one of us are too tired to handle the battle and just give in… and round and round we go.

  7. Kim Davies says

    Completely sucks but thankfully it’s not forever and one day the smell of her hair and the warmth of her cuddle will be rosy memories. I’ve given up and decided to let our almost 4 year old sleep in our bed…for now. Hubby sleeps the other way around in the bed and that buys us just a tiny bit more room.

  8. Jesus. I really need to not read posts like this… No offense!

  9. Ugh. A back rub sounds great right about now.
    After about two years of C going to bed at 7:00 or earlier, he has all of sudden extended his bed time to 8:30. It is exhausting. Especially as he often doesn’t nap during the day. And usually I am solo for dinner, bath and bed. I actually said to him the other nightโ€ฆor rather yelled at him, “What part of the fact that my only alone time comes after you go to sleep don’t you understand?” Poor kid. He is only three! I also let R have it when he came home that night. And then of course felt terrible about it all.
    Fingers crossed all the children start to sleep soon!

  10. Oh the memories! My three are between the ages of 13 and 24 now, but I remember the shared bed dance, aggro and fights. Be kind to yourself. Have a break from ‘training’. With my son, we had most success with a mattress by the bed for a little while, then we would move it a few feet towards the door, then into the hallway, then into his room. Bit by bit, little by little. My eldest needed me to snuggle her (in her bed) when she went to sleep, and if she woke in the night frightened I would snuggle her again. It was a pain in the backside but it saved us from complete sleep deprivation and an end to our marriage by axe. Ikea has some cute flower and star wall lights that we used as night lights (low amp bulbs)… they look great and gave off enough light to banish the shadows and therefore the monsters under the bed and those lurking in the corners (and they are still available! the lights not the monsters). I’ve found that the standard night light creates shadows and dark areas in the room where monsters live, but these lights gave off enough to not do that (no affils LOL). A night light in the bathroom helps too. The best advice I can offer is that the trudge back to the bedroom multiple times a night just upsets everybody involved and doesn’t solve the root of the problem. So many kids won’t tell you what they are frightened of, even at the age of four, because they are embarrassed or feel silly or they can’t voice it. One of my memories of younger childhood is me begging my mother to let me sleep on the floor next to her bed because I was sooo scared to be alone. Just of being alone. She refused and sent me back to my own bed without even a hug. I’ve never forgotten it. I hope you get a nap today, I promise that it will get better, not easier, but better. toni xx

    • Oh Toni! Now I feel awful…I probably did that to her last night too! We have the moon light from Ikea and we’ll work on what the real problem is soon. Thanks for sharing x

  11. Yes! On both the unrelenting-ness and the dropping your guard. If you just let one thing slip (dishwasher unemptied, sleeping bag not returned to cot), those sorts of things can just push you over the edge later in the day, and it can fall apart so easily. But sleep, sleep is a whole other thing. Sleep issues take their toll, and make everything a million times harder. I feel for you Beth, I really do. But hopefully it moves forward a little faster this time, and lasts longer. One day, she will sleep. And when that day comes, we will all celebrate with you!

    • Thanks Rosie…she WILL sleep! I know it because her older sister was worse than this and now she sleeps all night long. There is hope!

  12. Jackie Clark says

    I admire your persistence! I have given up with our 4 year old and she gets in our bed every single night!! Keep up the good work!!!

    • Thanks Jackie…I was just so sick of sleeping badly because of her in bed with us and I snapped. NO MORE! Except for like, now!

  13. its so hard, like harder than you ever imagined isn’t it. I love what you said on Afternoon Delight the other day, its the hardest but most rewarding thing you will ever do. Be kind to yourself Mama’s and Papa’s, you are enough and you are doing the best job. <3

  14. Oh chick, I can’t imagine, well, actually I can, sleep deprivation is a bitch. You know it can work, stick with it and fingers crossed she settles in her own bed quicker this time. Failing that send the kids to the grandparents for a night and get some well deserved shut eye.

  15. Emily Furlong says

    Oh Beth… Empathy abounds! I’ve been in your shoes. One slip up and it feels like it’s all over. But get back on it, hold that routine and she will respond. Just remember to show the hubby some love in the middle of it all. The odd “I know I’m batshit crazy but I still love you” kiss in the hallway can help you reconnect and centre to get through it. Love and peace x

  16. Beth, I empathise. Bearhands and I shared some terse words when one of the girls got sick while we were holidaying in a remote spot last week.
    It’s never as bad as it seems when you’re crazy tired.
    My youngest will have her first night in a big girl bed tonight. I hope both our girls go to bed easily and stay there. ALL NIGHT! xx

  17. Lisa Aherne says

    Awwwww! So sorry to hear you have troubles, wish I could help. It must get better. She will sleep eventually. Maybe a weekend with grandparents is a good idea so you and Rob can relight the fires. And get some proper sleep.

  18. Reannon says

    I’ll wave to you from my non sleeping trench. Last night was my first night at home as a mum of 4, with a still waking in the night 1 yr old & a brand new baby….it was not pretty but I tell myself it won’t be forever either. Let’s pray to the sleep gods together shall we? xx

  19. I hear you. Last week our 2 year old taught himself how to pole vault out of his cot so we have had to transition him to a big boy bed. The other night I walked him back in 27 times. Yawn.

  20. We have the 4yo attitude at the moment. Tantrums, tears, answering back. It’s driving me nuts! Add a similar sleeping issues and you have some very unhappy people in this house.
    You’re so right about sticking to the routine. We had banned the iPad and TV outside of set hours but starting a new job this last two weeks and hubby away meant I got lazy and let her have it when she woke at 5am instead of forcing her back to bed. Of course now we have a tantrum to deal with at bedtime or wake up until she gets back to the routine.
    Don’t forget your’e only human and this too shall pass. Good luck! xx

    • What’s with 4 yro’s and iPads? It is like their crack! She has been banned indefinitely from it!! Good luck too x

  21. Oh Beth, thank you so much for this post.
    We are going through exactly the same thing with our just turned Miss 4! She was a delightful sleeper as a baby and toddler, but now, not so much. The constant trips of taking her back to her bedroom, holding her little hand…..this goes on all night/morning. She is tired, we are tired. I don’t know what to do. I don’t get angry, as that won’t help her sensitive soul, but it’s just a phase I keep telling myself….a long, tiring phase x

  22. Oh sleep how do I love thee

    Youve probably had a GUTFUL of (well meaning) advice on the sleep issue but one way to stop the ninja child sneaking in to the bed when you are dead tired is something noisy on the door that wakes you (jangly windchimes on a hook that make a racket when door opens – tip from Super Nanny I think) so you can return her to bed instead of the waking at some point and doing the whole………….. “WHAT THE? How the heck did she get in here so stealthily sneaky little bugger”

    You still have to do the robot returns no talking take them back to bed…sometimes repeatedly and for howver long it takes for them to get it (hard when cold and wintery) but just one way to be sure you know she’s snuck in if thats part of the issue. Short term waking and effort for long term gain

    Hmmm maybe not -= picturing jangly metal windchimes being thrown at hubbies head in the middle of the night

  23. Am with you Beth. My bambino is 2.5 and the reason he moved from cot to big bed was because we needed to pack the cot so we could move house. I am now one of those suckers who lies in with him reading stories and cuddling until he falls asleep. People give me the “oh Tizzie Hall says wah, wah wah” but honestly I am not made of the stuff that can hold a door shut while he scrambles at it with proper panic in the tears. Poor kid has never had a routine though. It always seems to be a bridge too far. We have recently hit the nude-and-proud stage so things are nothing if not unpredictable around here! Hope you are all sleeping well tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. I can really relate. It’s quite refreshing to realise we are not the only ones still seriously lacking sleep! Our four year old wants to be cuddled every night until she falls asleep, I can sit her on my lap for ten minutes and she will be asleep or she will throw a tantrum and then keep walking out of her room. Once we get her to sleep, (normally on my lap, cause at this point in time its just easier, although not the right way) she will sleep until about 2am. We put up a baby gate to keep her in her room. She doesn’t climb it but just screams her box off for dad to come and get her, if we ignore the screaming it just gets increasingly louder!!!! Good luck

  25. Fashionista says

    Sleep deprivation is a complete b*tch. My babies are (almost) 19 and 16 so it is a whole different game of sleeplessness now. When the 19yo is out it is waiting to hear him come home safe. With the 16yo it is getting her to bed at a reasonable time (by 10pm) because she has early starts (out of the house at 6:30am two mornings a week, 7:15am for the rest) and she is FOUL when she is tired.

    But not letting other things slip is still the same as when they were little; miss washing one day, the dirty clothes mountain explodes out of the laundry and takes prisoners. Forget to meal plan; can’t even do toasties because there is no bread in the freezer. I have finally figured out that I need to be organised otherwise it is just bedlam. Of course occasionally I have an enormous hissy fit about the unrelentingness of it all and retire to the good room with a G&T, that usually makes me feel better.

  26. I’m laughing out loud right now. Big, whooping laughs, with tears running down my cheeks. I know I shouldn’t. I know I should be full of sympathy, BUT I’ve just realised that finally this situation is NO LONGER ME!!! I’m soooo happy and rested that I might do a jig ๐Ÿ™‚ My kids are 10 and 8, and am going to bask in the glow of two sleepingallthewaythroughthenight children for as long as I can. By the comments of some of the others above me, it’s not going to be for very long, but I’ll take what I can get thank you very much and ENJOY it!
    Good luck with yours though… Now the chuckling and chortling has died down, the sympathy and empathy for your situation is kicking in…. Stay strong. Keep your resolve. Victory will be yours!

    • Davina there is no greater joy than a good nights sleep!! Soak it up and enjoy…there’s hope for us all ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Aw Beth I hope you can get some good catch up sleep over the next couple of nights. Sleep deprivation turns us into psychos. I’m praying my next bub is a good sleeper. I dont like the mum I turn into when I don’t have a lot of sleep. Thank goodness it’s only for a season. X

    • Bec I don’t like the person I am when I am sleep deprived. Bad Mum, wife, friend and I even think I am bad…it’s never pretty. It will pass x

  28. Ah yes. After our trip away last week the night wakings have been just awful. I’ve spent too many hours squashed in a toddler bed with Lightning McQueen sheets. Not ideal.

    One dayโ€ฆ.

    I pray that all my three kids have their own kids who don’t sleep. And if they happen to hit the jackpot with good sleepers, I’m going to be an evil grandma and fill the grandkids up with coca-cola. Revenge will be sweet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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