Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How I got my sleep back

If there’s something I’ve learned in this tumultuous toddler time, it’s that behaviour is learned. That consistency is key. And that bribing (I mean, rewarding good behaviour, of course) is essential.
The twinadoes are adorable, utterly adorable, but often ‘spirited’. We have just come out of a very dark period, the darkest, in fact; months and months and months of endless wake ups and nocturnal visitations throughout the night.

The hubster and I were utterly exhausted. I can’t even describe it. I am sure you must know what I mean. Sleep deprivation is so debilitating.

Just one of the many unwelcome effects of this was that we just didn’t have the energy to change the situation. We knew we should just put our feet down, return the twinadoes to their beds as many times as it took, and do it every.single.time, but the reality was that we were so bloody tired we literally couldn’t get up. We didn’t have the energy. Or the will. In fact, sometimes I would wake up with a twin either side of me and not even know how long they’d been there. Such was the extent of my exhaustion. When I did manage to catch those ten minutes either side of a night-time visitor, I was practically comatose.

I don’t know exactly what it was that changed (I expect it was something to do with realising that I had my witch’s broom on full rotation for about a fortnight and was not being the best version of myself), but one day something snapped and I thought, “Enough is enough. I need to take back my sleep. I need to take back my life. I need to enjoy it again.”
So we did.

And it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.

Now, I’m not saying this is going to work for everyone, but this is what worked for us. And to put it in perspective from the outset, my children are motivated by praise. They love it when they do something ‘right’, or ‘good’. This, my friends, is their currency.
So, to the toy shop we went. I let them pick out two ‘reward presents’ and a packet of stickers each. I made a 14-day reward chart that I stuck to their bedroom door.  I explained  - about a gazillion times – that for each night they stayed in their own beds, they would get a sticker on their chart. And at the end of a week’s worth of stickers, they would get one of their reward presents. I also encouraged them to tell everyone who crossed their path about the plan. Grandparents, kindy teachers, shop assistants, random strangers; no-one was immune. I figured if they said it out loud enough, they might actually start to believe it. Of course I put their presents on display, but out of reach. A little bit mean maybe, but definitely motivating.

I can’t believe how quickly it worked.
One little man got it straight first night in. Honestly. He went to sleep, woke up once, I called out something about a sticker, or a present, or maybe both, and he went straight back to sleep.

The other one did get up a couple of times, but we somehow found it in us to march him straight back each time, reinforcing the sleep –sticker–reward relationship. The next night he woke up, but didn’t get up. The third night, he didn’t wake at all.
That was over two weeks ago, and things are still going well.  I can’t believe the difference it’s made. Who knew how much a good night’s sleep can make the world a much nicer place!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Playing catchup

I've woken up with a spring in my step today, because these little darlings (look at thos two blonde heads!).....
ARE SLEEPING!!!!!!!!!!! IN THEIR OWN BEDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ALL NIGHT LONG!!!!!!!!!!!
Check out that sleep chart. That was yesterday. Today I was very happy to add another sticker to the row. In fact, the past two nights they haven't woken at all! I can't remember the last time I had two nights in a row of unbroken sleep, and I genuinely feel like a new person. Like I can take on the world. Like I can enjoy the day and look forward to the next one. I don't think I realised just how tired I actually was.
The boys and I have been having fun. I drew some townhouses on their chalkboard for art time colouring-in. The sun is now purple and the grass is orange. Why not?
 Nature 'treasure hunts' are BIG at the moment. The boys are enjoying them immensely. And I love seeing what they come up with. Look at that single blade of grass and that single rosemary leaf. Aren't kids just divine?
This is often how you'll find us when we're on one of these treasure hunts. They really are the best of mates.

In other unrelated news, I have fairy lights in my stairwell. Why not? I'm the only female in the house so I think it is my duty to make things as pretty as possible.

And to top things off, one of my very dear friends Marri (she owns the amazing Bolly & Bear) is getting married today! I can't wait. There's nothing better than love is there?

Speaking of love, T and I met 15 years ago. 15 years! That's nearly half my life. Love him so much. Wow, life was so different then. We were both so young - just starting out at uni. Our biggest concerns were where to head out to on a Saturday night (well, that and exams of course). Looking back, I think my biggest concern ought to have been my wardrobe. What was I thinking!!?? Anyhow, I think it's fitting that we're off to celebrate some special love today.




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Taking the sleep by the horns

Things are changing in this house! We are going to solve this sleeping situation once and for all. I'm determined!

The boys have always been such good sleepers. But not anymore. They take forever to go to sleep at night, despite the same routine. They also wake throughout the night and come running into our bedroom and our bed.

The problem isn't really them; it's us. We're inconsistent. Some nights we are firm, resistant to their cries, and return them to their beds. Other nights we are just so bloody tired we either don't have the energy to resist, or, sometimes, don't even realise they are in with us until hours later.

It's been going on for so long now that neither T nor I can remember the last time we had a full night's sleep. I've also developed what must surely be an axiety-related insomnia issue. The minute I wake up, that's it for me. I can't get back to sleep for hours and hours, despite trying so very hard to. My brain starts whirring and that's it. I usually manage to drift back off, sometime around 5am, which is when Hamish usually decides to join us, and I'm awake again.

The most difficult part of parenting for me was always going to be the sleep deprivation. I've always needed a lot of sleep, and I'm not great without it. I get overly emotional, more highly strung, and rather a bit too shouty. And teary. It's not pretty.

Anyhow. No more!

Enter the sleep reward charts.

I took the boys shopping yesterday and let them pick out two rewards each and a packet of stickers. The idea is that they earn a sticker each morning they wake up after sleeping in their own beds for the whole night. When they've earned seven stickers, they get the first reward. Then after the second week, they get the second reward. Hopefully two weeks will be enough to create new habits.

Last night was night one. Both boys earned their sticker. That's not to say we slept uninterrupted all night. Oh no no no no. We were awake. A lot. In fact, I have been awake since 3.23am. But the important thing is the boys stayed in their beds. They tried. They woke. They called out. They got up. But we didn't give in. They were really excited to earn their stickers this morning, and maybe the light at the end of the tunnel just got a bit brighter.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I've really been getting my craft on lately. Any excuse to get the staple gun out....

A newly upholstered ottoman for our rumpus room downstairs. The previous sharp-cornered coffee table was just an accident waiting to happen with the twinadoes.

There. A much softer landing surface.

This fabric is gorgeous. I have heaps left over so some cushions will be made.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Another lovely spot to sit

These cushions are already showing their value. Look how perfectly they match my beloved cane chair. Sigh. It doesn't take much to make me happy :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A spot in the garden

I read this somewhere today, but I can't find it again. So, the credit isn't mine, but the truth it contains is:

"This is surely the most challenging time in our lives; raising babies, pulling purse strings and deciding which dreams are allowed to become reality."

To find calm amongst the chaos is so important. To dream big, but keep my toes in touch with the ground is critical.

In other news, I've been wanting to make better use of my beautiful garden so mum and I made these gorgeous cushions today. Welcome to my new favourite sitting spot.