Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sleep Perchance to Dream

The first post I wrote on this blog was about my boys’ endearing habit of waking prior to the crack of dawn, as though it was their personal responsiblity to get the chorus started.
I can make light of the situation but, in all seriousness, it has been the most torturous experience of motherhood for me and one that I have never been able to adapt to or handle well.
The main perpertrator of this crime is Captain Underpants, who has been programmed to wake at an unGodly hour since he arrived home from hospital at 4 weeks old.  He considers it his duty to have the whole household ready to tackle the day typically at an hour with a 5 as the first digit.  And he takes his duty very seriously and rarely lets the side down by taking the day off.
Johnny Drama, meanwhile, was a textbook baby who woke daily at 7am come rain or shine...until the boys started sharing a room 17 months ago.  Within a matter of days, he was also up before a single sparrow was even considering a fart.  Nightmare.
During the past 17 months I have tried every trick in the book to get them to sleep a little later.  Nothing worked.  The constant threat has been, “If you can’t follow the rules of the house and stay in bed quietly until 6am at the very earliest, then I will put you both in separate bedrooms”.  The threat never worked obviously, but it always provoked lots of tears and protests along the lines of, “please no mummy - we promise to try harder - we promise to be good - we want to stay in the same room.....PPPLLLLEEAASSSE!”  And despite my ex’s advice to the contrary, I always conceeded.
Until last weekend.
Their behaviour was no different than any other weekend, but all of a sudden I had Had Enough.  There were no negotiations and no last minute reprieves.  Within an hour of getting up I had moved Johnny Drama’s bed into the small bedroom, which had up until that moment been designated as the playroom.  I switched around toys, bedside tables, lamps and books, then went downstairs for a much needed coffee and we got on with our day.
I was expecting, at the very least, a formal protest but, much to my surprise, there wasn't one.  The sole reason I had been putting off this separation was my ongoing angst at the backlash it would surely provoke.  The potential renewal of several sleepless nights while they adjusted to sleeping on their own once more.  
But guess what?  It NEVER happened.  After procrastinating this move for months, because I had anticipated it being the cause of yet more emotional scarring, both boys adapted instantly and within 48 hours were begging to remain in their own rooms.
One of the upsides of putting them to bed in separate rooms is that I now get to spend at least 15 minutes one-on-one time with them at the end of the day, while we read stories, snuggle and chat.  I had forgotten how precious this time was.  The boys are relishing this exclusive attention and are going to sleep, well, like a dream actually.
What’s more, from day one Johnny Drama started waking up between 6.30-7am again and even Captain Underpants appears to be sleeping longer.  I say ‘appears’ because Captain Underpants has stealth-like qualities and could be up earlier.  But the beauty of it is, if he is, then I don’t hear him.  And neither does his brother.  Truly a win-win situation for all concerned.  Who knew it was going to be this easy?  
Not me.  
Even when I was in the midst of moving the rooms around I had no confidence that it would alter anything.  In fact, I would have placed bets I was about to create a plethora of new night waking habits which would have me reinstating the shared bedroom in no time at all.
Which goes to prove that I had wasted a fairly significant amount of my time worrying unnecessarily about their potential reaction to change which, ultimately, proved to be entirely unfounded.
Hmmm.  There could be a lesson for me here.  If only I could see what it is...

Right now, I am too busy enjoying my 'lie-ins'.  Oh the bliss of not being woken up until an hour with a 6 as the first digit.  Heaven.  My goodness, I just had a thought...if this carries on I may even need to buy an alarm clock. Happy Days!!


  1. Woohoo, as they say what was the worst that could happen. Well done on making the change and it doing good. I couldnt coope with the boys in the same room at all. I also have a very early riser in Maxi who is up at 5 every morning. I have to go to bed early or I couldnt cope

  2. That's a great result for you all, I'm glad it worked out so well.

    The Teenager, when she was between the ages of 1 and 5, used to wake up at either 5 or 5.30am EVERY BLOODY MORNING. It was torture, and at the time was very difficult to deal with. Of course now she's a teenager, and the first time she ever slept later than me a couple of years ago I took great pleasure in getting a tamborine, standing in the doorway to her bedroom and singing Won't you come home 'Bill Bailey' at the top of my voice whilst banging on the tamborine. Great fun. And yes, I know I'm evil :-)

  3. Great lesson indeed. I'm always worrying pointlessly, too. I'm so glad to have two lovely sleepers that need to be woken every weekday morning and sleep until eight at least on weekends. I just hope the third one will be as agreeable.

  4. That must be really tough to be up so early all the time. I hate it when it's 8am and you've already been up for hours, it's one of the worst things about parenting.

    One on one time is lovely. My boys suddenly become all grown up and behave.

    Glad to hear the move went well!

  5. I'm glad that worked for you. I too have a little girl who thinks that 6 or even 5 something is a good idea!

  6. I also have a Captain Underpants, is that a ray of sun thinking about coming over the horizon, better get everyone up just in case. It is a killer. Now I'm thinking separate rooms... Hmmmm. Now you are talking!

  7. Gawd I can't even imagine. Mine never did that but the Little Guy occasionaly gets up to pee after I'e put him to bed. He uses my bathroom and usually "rearranges" something. Last night two hairbrushes were artfully arranged in my tooth brush mug and the night before a fairly expensive watch was hanging off one of the taps. I am still trying to establish whether it ever made contact with water.

  8. How lovely to get a lie in finally - I truly thought I would never sleep again Lx

  9. Has not worked with my little one. She ahd her own room, was miserable. moved her in with her older sister-now still miserable.

    feel like I have a freaking newborn!

    Jealous of you.

  10. TheMadHouse - I also go to bed super early, typically lights out by 10 at the latest for me. It's the only way to remain relatively sane.

    NotSupermum - yes, I can't wait to bring a whole brass band into the house at 5am when they are teenagers and I can't get them out of their pits!!

    MWA - okay, never talking to you again. Sorry, nothing personal. But 8am??!! I think there's a good chance my marriage might have survived if we had been able to sleep until 8am!!

    Calif Lorna - you're right - they are so much more grown up with one on one time. Day or night. Having one child at a time is a joy!

    BNM - glad to hear I am not alone here! I seem to be surrounded by friends whose children sleep till 7 or 8 most days. Most galling.

    Fraught Mummy - I knew we had so much in common!! Let me know if you tackle that move to separate bedrooms and whether it has any impact.

    Expat mum - ha ha! CU also rearranges stuff in my bathroom. I lost my contact lense case yesterday and went berserk through the whole house trying to find it. I couldn't quite get my head around the fact that it had just disappeared into thin air overnight. Eventually it turned up - hiding underneath the base of a mirror in the bathroom. Oh, how I laughed...

    Family Affairs - Isn't it strange that all of a sudden 6am is a lie-in? Definitely warped parent logic.

    Susie - Oh I feel your pain! Hopefully she'll grow out of it?? I remember talking to a guy friend of mine (who was instrumental in guiding me in spirituality). "Maybe God is trying to tell you you need to be getting up at 5am?" he said. It took my aback. It was certainly a different response from the usual commiserations I received. Not that it made me change my habits and actually intend to start my day at 5am though...

  11. We've had the opposite - going from separate rooms in London to one room and bunk beds out here. The problem is not so much the getting up early, but refusal to go to bed and general horsing around after bedtime. I look back nostalgically at the time when I read LB1 a story by himself long after his brother was in bed. We keep thinking they'll eventually get used to it and the novelty will wear off...but it's been nine months now and it hasn't got much better. Gah!

  12. Result!

    Thanks so much for your recent few comments on mine, by the way. Means a lot.