Monday, September 20, 2010

To sleep, perchance to dream

People who get enough sleep are happier, thinner, smarter, and more energetic. To start you on your way to getting enough sleep, I offer, out of the goodness of my heart, some tips for getting 5-6 (non-consecutive) total hours of (semi) restful sleep each night.

You are welcome.

MEP’s Tips for Getting 5-6 Total Hours of Sleep Per Night

1. Invite three children under age five into your home.

2. Have the oldest two children share a room so that there is always the possibility that one will wake up the other.

3. The baby should share a room with you, her parents. Make sure this bedroom is adjacent to that of the older children so that there is also a possibility that baby can wake up big brothers and vice versa. Also, the added bonus of sharing a room with your baby is that you don’t have to miss a single squirm, cry, or disturbance.

4. Transition two year-old out of crib and into a toddler bed. Even if you take the precaution of penning him into his bedroom with a sturdy gate, be prepared for him to delay his own sleep (which helps to ensure that you get those 5-6 total hours) with innovative tactics such as clearing clothes out of closets and strewing them about the room, emptying books from shelves, repeatedly opening and shutting the closet door, wrestling with the camera portion of the video monitor, and, best of all, disassembling a blackout shade and then using its rod to forge divots in the drywall. Please note that all of the above behaviors can be done loudly so as to awake baby in adjacent room.

5. Transition baby from pack-and-play into crib. Heed the warnings against crib bumpers so that from time to time your baby can get her foot stuck in the crib’s slats. If she fusses or squirms at all, don’t let her work it out on her own. Assume her foot is stuck again and jump up to check.

6. It’s luck of the draw on this one, but try to have a child (preschool age, in our case) who occasionally awakes moaning and thrashing about in a trance-like state. In this state, he cannot tell you why he is upset, is immune to any comforts you offer him, and remains deaf to your pleas for him to quiet down please so as not to wake his siblings. Such disruptions can help you get those 5-6 total hours of sleep.

7. If your older children start crying, moaning, or yelling your name, take the easy road by just bringing them into your bed. That way, each can use his own techniques for helping you get those 5-6 hours: stealing covers, kicking, lying horizontally, sharing your pillow, breathing in your face, picking your nose.

8. Forget to knock on wood all those months when you proudly tell people that your baby is going to bed somewhere between 7-9 p.m. and waking up once in the 4:00 a.m. hour. NTB. If you forgot to knock on wood, you may just find yourself waking up 2-3 times per night—or more!! It will take a couple weeks of denial before it sinks in that your good sleeper has moved into an exciting new stage so keep staying up late as if you won’t be awaking often at night.

9. As touched upon in the previous tip, do stay up late. Check Facebook and your email. Create space in your DVR. Eat snacks you are not particularly hungry for. Putter around trying to make a dent in the house cleaning and laundry. Make lists of the projects you are going to do once you finally catch up on your sleep and have more energy. Read and comment on blogs. Write your blog posts. Do whatever you need to do to keep from going up to your bed. You cannot get 5-6 total hours of sleep without this kind of effort.

10. Arrange for one of your children to get an ear infection. This feat may be a bit tricky if that child already has ear tubes, but rest assured, those little tubes can get blocked. Along those lines, encouraging your children to cough and become congested is another good way to ensure that you get those 5-6 total hours of sleep.

11. Choose a partner whose job involves regular out-of-town travel. After getting all three children to bed on your own (check back later for a set of tips entitled “How To Make the Bedtime Process As Long As Humanly Possible”), you can then follow through with the above tips all on your own.

12. With your co-parent out of town, you may inadvertently awake your two year-old when getting up to feed the baby. You will for sure get your 5-6 total hours of sleep if you have to stop feeding the baby to follow your toddler downstairs and convince him that it is not morning and not time to watch “Melmo.”

13. In line with the previous tip, do what you can to accidentally awake your children. You can trip on one of the shoes, books, or toys on the floor. You can make a lot of noise searching for clean pajama pants in dresser drawers before giving up and sleeping in whatever you are wearing. Alternately, you can throw caution to the wind and brush your teeth in the upstairs bathroom instead of doing it downstairs. (Note: make sure to only have one bathroom upstairs and make sure it is located right between both bedrooms). You might even attempt to read a book in bed and forget to turn pages silently. You and your partner can attempt to have a conversation. And, of course, you’ll need to make sure that the door to your room has the squeakiest hinges possible.

Okay then, there's your Baker's Dozen. I could go on and on, but I think I’ve been generous enough with my wisdom. I hope my tips help you to get five or six total hours of sleep each night. Do you have any tips to add? What other categories of helpful tips would you like me to offer in future posts? English majors, can you identify the snippet in the title?


Stacia said...

Throw in two dogs who insist on shaking and rattling their dog collars at 4 a.m. every morning. This ensures that the baby sleeping in his parents' room will certainly wake for his middle-of-the-night feeding, if perhaps he had considered sleeping right through it.

Also throw in two toddlers who insist on sneezing on the baby, despite your best pleas and groveling that they "cover, for Pete's sake!" Germs for all are awesome.

And I slept in my shoes last night after deducing it would be too noisy to take them off.

PS: Hamlet!

Heather said...

Okay, I am cracking up over here, but mainly because my kids are FINALLY at the ages where I can get a full night's rest, but my days of waking up every few hours are not that far behind me that I don't remember what you're going through.

All I can say is: you need to get some white noise for those kids! We started with Elijah when he was three, and now all 3 kids have small fans in their rooms to block out the noise. Lifesaver, I tell you! (I saw your plea for help on FB).

Good luck, honey! And God bless you for still being able to have a good sense of humor about the whole lack of sleep thing...

Mrs F with 4 said...

You've been in my house?! If you like, you could add a pinch of 'coyotes giving bloodcurdling screams under the bedroom window'.

Oh, and a tablespoon of Italian neighbours whose entire life is lived at full-throated soap-opera volume.

Not forgetting that final vital ingredient... a nine-year-old's platform bed that screeches each time he so much as moves a muscle, in defiance of all tightening of screws and insertion of washers (into the bed, not the child). Thank YOU, Ikea!

E... said...

That's it. I'm staying in the hospital forever. You're reminding me that having nurses wake us every two hours is but a tip of the iceberg. And here there's only ONE kid's needs to meet.

Maggie said...

My tip: Allow your 2 year old to take off his diaper to play with himself in the middle of the night, then fall back asleep on his own and wake up cold, upset and covered in pee pee. I've heard it works like a charm.

patsyd said...

I suggest that you buy a house on a busy street close to a hospital. The constant racing firetrucks, police cars, and ambulances always help children feel safe and well-rested.

For the 8 year old with night terrors, make sure you run into your dresser breaking your toe around 3am. The pain you feel while trying to calm the sleeping screamer helps you return to your restful sleep so much faster. The subsequent bruising and pain over the next few weeks is a bonus.

If your husband has a pager, make sure he leaves in the baby's room to help her wake up when he gets paged in the middle of the night. He won't be able to hold her while he is on the phone but at least he won't be lonely. With any luck, she will wake her sister and brother so no one will feel left out.

Also, make sure that you set off your house alarm in the middle of the night when you run downstairs to the kitchen for children's tylenol. As a bonus, if you don't turn it off fast enough, ADT will call you to make sure you are ok. Try to remember your password since they don't find it funny when you run through a list of possible passwords. At least the alarm will rouse the kids while your husband sleeps through the entire event. This is a favorite in our house.

Finally, I suggest your adopt our household rule - "you wake them, you take them."

Good luck and write down the memories.

Tiffany said...

Found you through a friend...hilarious post and so very true!!

Actchy said...

Laughing so hard the belly hurts from the jerky movement. Not to be a one-trick pony, but dare I add:

14. Have three children under the age of two.

CaraBee said...

I'm with Stacia, I suggest adding a couple of cats in the mix. They are always good for clawing at the door of sleeping babies/toddlers and if that doesn't wake anyone up, they can be relied on to walk across your forehead, claws out, roughly twice a night. Good times.

Melissa Walters said...

add a husband who walks around like an elephant, slams drawers and doors, and blows his nose like a fog horn. And talks at a level louder than a normal voice, and gets upset when shushed...

although I can't complain too much. I just have one.

Sarah@afterhood said...

And it doesn't stop. I got to the point that I could hear them standing in our bedroom doorway just breathing...
My three are all grown, and I still wake up in the middle of the night ready for whatever.

msh said...

just the laugh i needed, as i am awake and checking facebook and e-mail and reading your blogs, just to ensure that i do not cross the 5 hour mark.

cake said...

a very clever post. and, i especially hear ya on the "stay up late" tip. on that note...good night!

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