Sunday, February 26, 2006

A frustrating night

Getting the family to bed this evening was pretty frustrating.

My 4 year old has been going to sleep at 1-2am. It's hard to get him to bed earlier, especially because our hands are full with the twins, and because we're too tired to engage him in a way that doesn't involve a TV or computer screen.

As a result, he wakes up at 11am-noon. By the time he has had breakfast and gotten dressed, there's not a lot of daylight left. I have to work hard to find 15 minutes to get him outside to run around. Sometimes a friend will pick him up & take him out to play (thank you!).

With sunset at 6pm, it means he goes a long time from active play until bedtime. That means that he is ready for more active play at 10pm, just when I want him to start to settle. Of course, we're too tired at 10pm to engage in active play with him. We often have sleeping babies in our arms, and would like to get some sleep as well, but can't because he is still up.

Shortly after he falls asleep, a baby wakes up & needs attention. He sleeps through it, while Mom & Dad get sleep in 1-2 hour increments through the night.

Today he didn't get to go outside even for a minute. I tried explaining the relationship between when he goes to sleep & when he wakes up, and he decided to go to bed at 9pm. However, he forgot about that once he got overtired/hyperactive in the evening.

Tonight was particularly bad for me. I have a cough from the dry air, and my throat gets very tired. He kept ignoring me, so I had to repeat myself to get the message across ("if you want to play outside in the light tomorrow, you need to go to bed now").

He also go violent, hitting & kicking me, and grabbing my legs. When he grabs my legs while I'm holding a baby, I feel very scared because I worry that I might fall & hurt the baby. Mom & I both find it very hard to treat him with respect when we're exhausted & he gets violent.

I would so like to just give him the information, and let him live with his own decisions. But it affects the rest of us. An under-rested child has a short fuse, just like an adult.

Finally I told my wife that "I needed a timeout", and went to sleep with the baby that I was holding. The 2 hours of sleep until that baby awoke was enough to help me function again.

I gave the baby to Mom to nurse, and slept for another hour. Then the other baby awoke, so I took to first one back & put him in the sling.

He fell asleep a little while ago, so I really should go to sleep, too.


EricGu said...


I've been there, though only with a single child, and I'm sure having new ones around makes it tons harder.

Four year olds are not little adults. They aren't equipped to understand the consequences of what their decisions. I don't think you really see that until around 10 years old, and even then it's spotty at times.

My advice - which you can take for what it's worth - is that you have to be in charge.

James Adams said...

I don't know if this will help or not, but it's at least an interesting read. :)

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sleep (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)

Anonymous said...

Ouch... poor 4-year old. sounds like mom and dad have their hands full and have no time for him. he must be feeling unloved, abandoned, and frightened, hence the violent outbursts. hopefully by now he is getting more attention.

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