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Things used to be really crazy difficult in terms of a sleep routine in our family. I recently shared the sleep routine that took me 3 years to figure out. Today, though I’m sharing how and why we used to struggle so much.
Part of the issue is Hun and I are both nocturnal chronotypes and so naturally go to bed much later. Not so surprisingly, Monkey Boy also seems to be a nocturnal chronotype, as we’ve always had some level of sleep issues with him since infancy.
Hun used to walk him, sometimes for more than an hour, throughout our apartment. Monkey Boy wouldn’t stay asleep very well at night unless I stayed with him. Of course, this would cause problems, because I wanted to be up, whether watching a show with Hun or just talking, or reading. Over time I started to do more creating, too, which I would want to do at night while Monkey Boy was sleeping.
Except, that he wouldn’t sleep or at least wouldn’t sleep well.
Eventually, I’d just nurse him and leave him on my lap to sleep until I was ready for bed. This wasn’t always very comfortable and would definitely hamper any adult time between Hun and I, but it’s all I knew to do.
Once Monkey Boy started to try skipping naps and the two of us would fight over them, it was imperative for me to stay up even later at night. This, of course, only made it more difficult to get up in the morning as I’d sleep or at least stay in bed until 10 or 11 every day.
I always excused myself because I was a stay-at-home-mom and I “didn’t have anything to do”. And, although I’d started the blog by then, I still didn’t know what I was doing and I certainly didn’t really have any specific goals. Additionally, I liked being up late. It’s how I’d always been and just couldn’t see myself enjoying not doing it.
(side note: Sometimes I still don’t really enjoy getting up early and going to bed sooner, but I do it anyway for routine’s sake.)
But then, it just became tiresome.
I wanted to do more. I wanted to really have time to myself, so I started getting out of bed sooner to work on the blog or do something just for me. The evenings and nights continued to be challenging and I wasn’t sure what else to do.
We believe in co-sleeping and we believe in extended breastfeeding, so I wasn’t quite sure how to get Monkey Boy to sleep while maintaining our desire to both co-sleep and breastfeed.
All this time, there wasn’t ever a truly consistent time for bed, let alone a bedtime routine of any substance. Yeah, I brushed teeth and put on pajamas, but there was no rhyme or reason to bedtime. Plus, I’d often get in bed, only to play games or look stuff up on my phone.
Eventually, I figured something had to give, so I thought I’d establish something more consistent for Monkey Boy. Looking back, the only really consistent piece of bedtime though, was an attempt at a time.
Thus, our bedtime struggles continued.
Brushing teeth happened, but I’d forget sometimes. Kisses were a definite. There weren’t any boundaries around giving out those kisses, getting (yet another) drink of water, and lights on or off. I didn’t always read a book. Sometimes I’d lay with him for a few minutes. Other times I wouldn’t. Sometimes I’d lay with him while simultaneously reading something on a screen.
Things were all over the place.
So, of course, we continued to have struggles and Monkey Boy would be up and bouncing around for hours. Finally, I’d saunter off to bed myself and Monkey Boy would inevitably fall asleep almost immediately.
The problem wasn’t just that I couldn’t get Monkey Boy to go to sleep. It also wasn’t that I wanted and needed some quiet time or time for self-care. The problem really was that I didn’t like how I felt battling with Monkey Boy over sleep every night. I didn’t like getting upset and frustrated. I didn’t like working so hard, pulling away, and having resentments creep in.
And that is exactly why I knew I had to do something different in order to get this bedtime stuff under control. I had to actually find a routine that works and that didn’t leave me feeling more and more depleted, disengaged, and angry.
Now that we have a new sleep routine, we’re all much calmer and happier. I’ve also noticed that when we’re out of our routines, all sorts of crazy happen. Not to mention the frustration, anger, blame, and shame start showing up, too.
** If you’re curious to know what your chronotype is, check out this quick online test here.
Do you struggle with a sleep routine? What have you found to be most useful for you? How do you think your chronotype affects your family rhythms?