Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Within the first few weeks of bringing our daughter home, we found it very important to establish a sleep, eat and play schedule and to adhere to it no matter the situation. This practice proved to be successful in helping her to learn her appropriate bedtime. For many years afterward, we lived in bliss. Don’t get me wrong, we have been awakened from our sleep on numerous occasions. The sound of crying or the tugging of our bed sheets because of an upset stomach is all too familiar. A large portion of those nights were due to inexperience. After all, how could we have known that chocolate milk after 5 p.m. could cause a midnight eruption?
But at what age do you begin to see a lull in late night “activities”? For us, this question has yet to be answered.
We are now in our seventh year of parenting and while there are times when we make it through a good night’s sleep without interruption, there are many when we don’t. For the past three months in particular we’ve been jolted out of sleep by middle of the night screams only to find our daughter deep in thought about an upcoming spelling test or wondering whether her breath is a solid, liquid or gas …at 3 a.m.!! I try (as patiently as a mother can at that hour) to reassure her that the most important thing is that she gets enough rest at night. I just can’t believe that she has these types of thoughts in the middle of the night!
We have tried, to no avail, late afternoon play dates, sporting activities and even a slightly later bedtime and yet somehow at least twice a week, we get the familiar tug on our sheets.
Hoping it will clear her head and get her to fall asleep; I let her stay up and talk about things for a while. This is often something that helps her. During these talks, I am amazed that a seven-year old could have so much to think about. Once she is done, we seal our late night chat with a hug and a kiss. It is then that I am reminded that just being there for my child is one of the most important tasks in the job description….even at 3a.m.
Nikki Hall-Branch is a communications coordinator at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.