I have blogged many times before about the fact that my 3 year old toddler does not sleep. I must write about it at least once a year, complaining about how little sleep she has and how tired myself and Ross are.
Then she gets in to a fantastic routine, I start to think we've cracked it.. and then it all goes tits up.
I am genuinely starting to believe there is something wrong.
It's as if the part of her brain that needs sleep needs rewiring. She can get by on as little as 3 hours sleep, leaving me and her Dad braindead wrecks.
She got in to such a good routine of dinner, bath and bed. She won't have a story at night, she just won't entertain it. She'll tell us to shut up, or rip the book from our hands. It's best just to leave her to it. A quick kiss on the forehead, tuck her in tight and say "na nights." And it works for a bit. For a few weeks, everything is wonderful. Ross and I can get our 7 hours sleep a night - BOTH of us - and we wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.
But then it all seems to go wrong. One day, she won't want to go to sleep. She'll ask to go to bed.. but then she'll sit up there for hours screaming that she's not tired. We never relent. She doesn't come back downstairs, no matter how hard she cries. As soon as she's back down, there's not a chance of getting her back to bed for hours. However, leaving her up there to cry doesn't work either.
She will cry and scream to the point we think she's hurt herself. I know she does it to get a reaction from us, just to get us to go upstairs, but it is never worth risking not checking. Just in case. She's done it before where she's been shouting and crying for 2 hours straight, I finally gave in to go and check on her and she'd somehow given herself a bloody lip. Imagine my guilt.
I've started to keep a sleep diary. What time she goes to bed, how many times she wakes up, what she's waking up for and when she wakes up in the morning. Most nights we're lucky if she gets 6 or 7 hours. Every time these phases hit, she seems to be sleeping less and less. When she was 1, we had to cut her naps out completely. She wouldn't go to bed until 10pm (without a nap all day) wake up at least 15 times a night, but then sleep in until 9am. Now, she's not going to sleep until 2-3am and up and at 'em at 8am before I leave for work.
Nothing seems to tire her out. I can't even call her nocturnal because she doesn't sleep in the day either. In fact, if I let her nap in the day I can kiss goodbye to any sleep. We'd be pulling an all nighter.
I'm not totally sure how much more any of us can take. It's one thing to survive on 8 hours broken sleep a night when you don't have to be up in the morning, but when I have to get up for work at 7am and I've been up with her until 2am, it starts to become a bit hard to handle.
It's come to the point where Ross and I are having to sleep in separate beds. I'm climbing in to Princess's bed early hours of the morning so he can stay up with her in our bed so she doesn't disturb me. I don't remember the last time we spent the whole night in bed together without her in there too.
I've sought advice from many different people. Most people blame her lack of sleep on routine. I can categorically state that routine is not the issue. We can all keep to a routine until it comes out of our arses, but if she doesn't want to sleep, she's not sleeping. It has been the same way for 3 years now and I'm tired. We all are. There is no 'locking her in the bedroom until she falls to sleep' or 'letting her cry it out'. 3 years worth of trial and error has taught me that there does not seem to be an answer.
She just doesn't like sleep.