Monday, January 21, 2013

Sleeping Ugly

The cliché of overly exhausted parents is as exhausted as much as it is true. But even though I’ve been a parent for over three years, I never really believed it until a few months ago.

When I started this blog 18 months ago I had a much simpler life with just one child. At that time, the Little Dude was a happy 20-month-old who napped regularly, ate fussily (though not fusilli) and gave me lots of entertainment to write about. For more than a year, that stayed constant. 
The Little Dude in his favorite nap location.
Since The Littler Dude’s arrival, however, Mrs. Dude and I have struggled to figure out a regular schedule for ourselves and our family.  I think part of that stems from my biggest gaffe (so far) as a parent of two kids: I expected #2 to be just like #1 was.  But that’s not how it usually works out, just ask Pippa Middleton's parents. 

Throughout Mrs. Dude’s second pregnancy, countless people told us “having two kids is easier than having one”.  That’s absolutely ridiculous, unless you have full-time help, in which case someone else is likely doing much of the heavy lifting for you. Four months later, I’d like to reconnect with those nosy strangers again and kick them in the shins. There’s absolutely no way what they said is true.

The Little Dude was an amazing sleeper who was sleeping soundly through the night after about a week. No joke. His brother, not so much. After 15 weeks he is finally getting into a routine consisting of waking up once during the night to feed in the midst of a 10-11 hour stretch, which most parents of newborns would consider spectacular.  To us, it’s created an unprecedented level of exhaustion that we are still figuring out how to caffeinate our way out of.  

One key difference between having one kid and two is that with the first one you have the freedom to allow him to get into a routine. Three years ago the Little Dude’s schedule was so locked in that you could set your TiVo by it:

Wake up in the morning > Eat > 3 hour nap > Wake up > Eat > 3 hour nap > Wake up > Eat > Bath >  Sleep for 12 hours, then rinse and repeat.

Now, with #2, we make sure he’s changed and fed, then throw him in the car to take his older brother where he needs to be. Naps are few and far between. The Littler Dude naps well in the car so he takes a lot of 20 minute snoozes throughout the day, which most adults would kill for, but are not nearly enough to quench a baby’s thirst for longer stretches in dreamland.  He doesn’t know any better or have higher expectations, so he has no clue about how his brother lived before him.  But as a parent it can be hard to watch an obviously tired infant who only wants to crash for an hour or two get schlepped through Target, to preschool pickup and then the bank while his eyelids quiver toward sleepyville.  
The Littler Dude in his frequent nap spot. 
For a variety of reasons, our living situation has changed since the boys were born. In our current circumstance, they will soon have to share a room. I never shared a room with anyone until college (and I hated that) so it’s a foreign concept to me. I’ve delayed moving him into his big brother’s room partially out of fear that they will cannibalize each other’s sleep by waking each other up during the night. If that happens, our entire infrastructure will collapse faster than a treehouse full of Biggest Loser contestants.  

So what can I do to rectify this whole situation? Though I don’t like it, I’ve gotten used to operating on about 5 hours of sleep per night over the last few months after averaging 8 during the previous 3 years.  I know this situation is only temporary, but until The Littler Dude starts making it through the night I think there may be really only one good solution. Earplugs.

How did you deal with kids' sleeping issues? Any tips? 


  1. Hilarious! For me....I had my firstborn....and that was much like being hit in between the eyes with a sledge hammer....even though I was 29 (ooh ah so old to have the first right?) I had no clue what I was doing. Windy road...blah blah blah...son 2 entered five years later. I heard awesome encouragement like, 5 years between your boys? That's so awesome! The oldest will be such a help. Bahahahaha ha! That 2 nd kid just started sleeping through the night. He's almost 6. What? Shoot me. So my recommendation? Have a few more because kid 3 is just a freaking hoot. After that you might as well have 10! Who needs sleep with so much love?!

  2. Yeah...Noah slept with us (the ex and I) and then me until he was 6 and then I bribed him to stay in his own room but he would scream, "I LOVE YOU!!" right in the middle of my REM sleep. Then Hot Joe came into the picture and said to me, "Are you out of your damned mind? This stops here."

    In other words, don't ask me.