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Crumpets and Bollocks: Strategies Parenting Kids Who Don't Sleep

Strategies Parenting Kids Who Don't Sleep

Sleep is a luxury. One most people take for granted. When you are well rested, you cannot possibly understand the nature of the sleep deprived. Even if you experienced it before. And the more sleep deprived someone is, the worse it is. If you were awake for the last 24 hours, you cannot possibly empathize with someone who has been awake for 72 hours. And because you did it once in college 5 years ago, that doesn't mean you have any idea what it's like to be up 72 hours at a time with 2 to 8 hour naps in between for the last 5 years straight.

I was there. I know what happens when you push pass the pain beyond the boundaries of your body. Sleep deprivation is no joke. Some of my symptoms included


What it really did was take whatever crazy that ails me, in my case autism and PTSD, and made it a thousand times worse. I've been sleeping again for the last year, and I'm still battling the consequences of my sleep deprivation. I probably will be for the next 5 years if I live to see it.

Why didn't I sleep you ask? I decided to procreate. I didn't realize what that really meant. And for most parents, it doesn't mean anything like what I've experienced. I know parents who popped out babies sleeping 6 hours straight for a period of time since birth. If you are one of those parents, go buy your kid a kite, a balloon, some ice cream, and start the trust fund because you owe your kid your life for that. You really do because your life is exactly what you sacrifice for a kid who doesn't sleep.

Why didn't my kids sleep?

Gabby

I had Gabby first. She is on the autism spectrum. It's very common for people on the spectrum to have trouble with sleep. I would swear that kid runs on a 30 hour day instead of a 24 hour one. Her sleep seemed to cycle. One week, she'd fall asleep at bedtime and sleep until morning. The next week, she was up later couldn't sleep and wanted to sleep in in the morning but we wouldn't let her in fear we'd ruin the sleep schedule. The next week, she was way off trying to nap through the day and being up most of the night leading up to the part where she would go 3 to 5 days wanting to sleep all day and be up all night. And then we slowly circled back to where she was sleeping at night again.

Solma

This kid really does sleep for the most part, but some nights she has issues falling asleep. I think she just inherited her father's insomnia, and it comes and goes with her.

Annie

This kid is allergic to milk and soy. We didn't know that at first. Nope, at 3 months of age, she broke out into a rash that spread everywhere but her butt and started oozing on her arm. It was bad. Doctors were useless. I was to a point where I actually considered, for only a second, grabbing the glock 40 and holding a doctor at gun point for some blood work. I dismissed that thought when the notion of sleeping with a doctor for some blood work crept into my head.

Really, what I needed was first the referral to the dermatologist. When I finally got that from the 4th doctor I saw specifically to get one, it took two months to get into the dermatologist, but we did. By then, the oozing went away on its own. We think it's from taking her to a public pool. So we recreated the pool scenario in our bath tub. A little bleach in the bath water (1 cup per 1 entire bath tub full of water, so we did 1/4 cup bleach and filled the tub almost halfway). That DRIES up the oozing of things like poison ivy and whatever rash my daughter had. Doctors disagreed about the bleach deal. Specialists were pro-bleach and regular doctors were anti-bleach.

By then I needed a referral to an allergist. That took several visits to get, but I found a doctor willing to work with me on referrals so yay. Progress. Unfortunately, he was anti-bleach and anti-goat's milk.

The first allergist refused to test. He instead wanted to dope up my 9 month old baby on antihistamines. I knew not to because of the FDA, but I was desperate at this point. So I attempted his instructions, and what happened... The antihistamine would knock her out for 2 hours, and then she would wake up hyper for 6. So about the time the other two were going to sleep, she was up all night up to about an hour before I had to wake all the kids up for school. We stopped the antihistamine after 2 weeks of it, but at her age, that was enough to make that her new sleep cycle, especially considering that she was still itching all the time and the itching kept her up.

I attempted a different allergist who was reluctant to test her for anything, but I was a bitch. I was a total bitch. I ripped him new assholes and grabbed his balls by my hand and twisted him into at least skin testing her which is where we realized she's allergic to milk and soy. That kind of sucks because formula is milk and soy only options. But by then, we had her drinking goat's milk, which we switched up to Rice Milk.

How I got my kids to sleep finally

Melatonin was awesome in the case of Gabby. Now it didn't work when she wasn't tired. Not at all. And I didn't give it to her every night like some doctors say you have to. Her doctor told me to give it to her as needed, and that's what I did. Only on nights I could tell she was tired and couldn't sleep did I give it to her. Melatonin is something your body produces naturally to help you fall asleep. Being in a dark and quiet room usually stimulates your brain into producing this. Experts suspect with autism, the brain isn't properly producing melatonin. In my kid's case, that wasn't every night. It was more like 3 nights a month did it ever help, but it would break the cycle. At this point, she hasn't taken Melatonin in over 3 years.

Prayer. I do a lot of praying, and while many who do not believe in God think I'm hallucinating an Almighty Problem Solver, I think I would be delusional to pretend that I fixed this situation completely on my own. There were many nights, out of desperation with a migraine, that I prayed profusely for God to help my kid sleep, and she never fell asleep on those nights until I prayed.

TV. I know this is a bad thing experts are totally against, but fuck the experts. They aren't up against my kids, and if they were, they wouldn't be experts anymore. The fact of the matter is you can't fall asleep until you are sitting still quietly for at least a few minutes, and you have to relax your mind. My kids don't do this naturally. They fight the tired, and then they get more hyper. I call it "hyper tired," and it's more mind boggling for the parent when kids are in hyper tired mode because that's when kids are confused, fight more, cry more, and definitely need more. Many parents at this point would suggest reading a book to your kid, but my kids won't sit still to hear a story, especially since we are talking multiple kids, so if your kids do, go that route. We allow the TV to calm my kids down. Some nights they don't watch TV but instead play with the TV on. That's when you got to get smart and pick their show for them, picking something that would suck them in based on their current interests. We always used Netflix instant streaming with this, whether it's connected to the Xbox, the Wii or the Kindle. I prefer the kids watch the Kindle at this point because it's quieter and makes the room darker.

Ambiance. Not the pill, that's Ambien. And it makes people talk to their appliances. No this is background, setting a sleep friendly environment. You know all the tips they tell you to get a baby to sleep? White noise. Turn out the lights. Maybe add a night light. Turn down the sound. Settle yourself down so you aren't moving and hyper like it's not bed time. Make sure the temperature is comfortable. That still works on kids and even adults. TV kind of breaks that deal, but adding a fan and making sure the room isn't too hot or cold is almost necessary sometimes. My kids won't go to sleep if I'm up cleaning, if lights are on in the other rooms, or if my tv is too loud. This is the time I usually sit down at the computer and do stuff, even if it's just Bejeweled Blitz.

Food and Bath Routine. We have a later dinner for this reason alone, or if we have an early dinner, we snack at about 7:30 to 8 PM. Why then? Timing. We don't do this every night, but I notice the kids fall asleep better on nights they are well fed and bathed. Bath time I think gets out that little extra hyper, soothes and relaxes, and then they sleep better when they are clean. Nobody can sleep well if they are sticky, sweaty, smelly, itchy or hungry.

Problem Solving. Really all it takes is good old fashioned problem solving abilities. Try to identify the issue, and then identify the cause, and try to find the real cause. Is it nightmares? What is causing nightmares? You might think it's something you were watching on TV the kid got a glimpse from, but it might be the argument your kid witnessed you have with another adult. Then come up with a list of solution ideas and attempt it one by one. Reevaluate over and over again. This gets old, but it's the thing behind all of my parenting approach. Every problem I've encountered with my children's behavior, I've approached it like a business meeting with myself. I set objectives. I identify issues. I choose my battles wisely. Some things have no solution. And sometimes solving a problem is embracing that.

In the case of Annie, hers was definitely finding the cause of her allergies and learning the different solutions to handling allergies. The things that help the most is reducing the allergens, duh, but also we found a nice topical steroid we use when her skin starts to get out of hand. I still give her an antihistamine, but only Zyrtec, and only when she intakes an allergen. These are all things that wouldn't work on everyone, but it works for her. It's customized to her body, her needs, her situation.

Things I don't do...

On the sleep schedule, I know a lot of parents think you make a schedule and then you train your kids like dogs to sleep at those hours. It doesn't always work that way. My kids, whether or not I woke them up early, let them nap, none of that changed when they fell asleep. I got to a point where waking them up every time they were sleeping because they were always sleeping at the wrong hours would have felt like a form of child abuse, so I wouldn't do that. If the only time they would sleep is from noon to 3, I let them have it because 3 hours is better than nothing.

School often interfered with my kids' sleep schedule they created on their own. It was definitely a struggle finding that balance between letting them sleep so they can behave like normal human beings and getting to and from school at their times. And the school, they don't care about your kid. You are your child's only advocate, and what's going to happen is if your child does not fit in the paradigm adults have hallucinated about kids, the world is going to be against you. Why not? Right? It's not like you needed a support system or anything.

If the oldest was up all night due to autism sleep issues, to wake her up regardless for school when she finally fell asleep would ascertain a day of meltdowns, transition issues, and other things teachers are not equipped to handle. Tired kids do not learn much. Many times, my kid missed half a day or a whole day because of her sleep, and the schools still hate me for forcing them into allowing that sort of thing. What they don't get, their lack of training on the subject of autism is what makes them a safety hazard if my kid isn't performing at her best to be there. So who is neglecting who Mr. School Smartypants?

The youngest, she wasn't sleeping because she wasn't tired. She was tired. When you got 3 kids with sleep issues sleeping various times of night, there's just a fine line between letting them sleep weird hours so they can sleep and trying to get them to sleep on a schedule. The fact remains, sometimes kids' schedules trump adult schedules, and adults who fail to see that are not qualified to speak on the subject.

And you do get a lot of those parents... the ones who are like, "Just make them go to sleep." Thank you Einstein for enlightening me with your expertise. Those people should run for public office. At least there, bull shit is appreciated.

Advice to the Weary

I'm assuming if you are still reading this, your kid isn't sleeping. I know it's difficult. At times it seems rather hopeless. But I'm here to tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And if I could go back in time and give myself advice, this is what I would say to myself.

Stand your ground. Don't let fools guide your way to dusty death (that's a reference to Shakespeare). If you are going to fail, then fail on your terms and not someone else's. Most of the time, you know the answers. You just have to listen to yourself. Parents know their children better than any expert on the field. And mothers are naturally equipped with some weird intuition. Listen to your inner voice, and stand up for your inner voice. Don't let the haters tear you down.

Find Moral Support. It exists. It really does. I found mine online. A group of women who are struggling their own battles who empathize, do not judge, and every time I needed to hear it, they would send me hearts and hugs and well wishes.

Sleep. Make someone watch your kids so you sleep at least 4 hours in every 24 hour period. Trust me, the battle required to do such a thing is worth every ounce of sleep. You cannot function sleep deprived. You will make stupid decisions. You will take 3 times as long to solve a problem. It takes longer to do the dishes or read emails sleep deprived. In addition, chronic long term sleep deprivation can get you SSI. Yes money sounds awesome, but incapable of working does not.


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Crumpets and Bollocks: Strategies Parenting Kids Who Don't Sleep

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Strategies Parenting Kids Who Don't Sleep

Sleep is a luxury. One most people take for granted. When you are well rested, you cannot possibly understand the nature of the sleep deprived. Even if you experienced it before. And the more sleep deprived someone is, the worse it is. If you were awake for the last 24 hours, you cannot possibly empathize with someone who has been awake for 72 hours. And because you did it once in college 5 years ago, that doesn't mean you have any idea what it's like to be up 72 hours at a time with 2 to 8 hour naps in between for the last 5 years straight.

I was there. I know what happens when you push pass the pain beyond the boundaries of your body. Sleep deprivation is no joke. Some of my symptoms included

  • hallucinations (balls of light and actual ghosts, usually before the migraine)
  • migraines
  • eating issues (I'd forget to eat a lot)
  • short term memory loss
  • loss of depth perception (you have no idea how important that is until you lose it)

What it really did was take whatever crazy that ails me, in my case autism and PTSD, and made it a thousand times worse. I've been sleeping again for the last year, and I'm still battling the consequences of my sleep deprivation. I probably will be for the next 5 years if I live to see it.

Why didn't I sleep you ask? I decided to procreate. I didn't realize what that really meant. And for most parents, it doesn't mean anything like what I've experienced. I know parents who popped out babies sleeping 6 hours straight for a period of time since birth. If you are one of those parents, go buy your kid a kite, a balloon, some ice cream, and start the trust fund because you owe your kid your life for that. You really do because your life is exactly what you sacrifice for a kid who doesn't sleep.

Why didn't my kids sleep?

Gabby

I had Gabby first. She is on the autism spectrum. It's very common for people on the spectrum to have trouble with sleep. I would swear that kid runs on a 30 hour day instead of a 24 hour one. Her sleep seemed to cycle. One week, she'd fall asleep at bedtime and sleep until morning. The next week, she was up later couldn't sleep and wanted to sleep in in the morning but we wouldn't let her in fear we'd ruin the sleep schedule. The next week, she was way off trying to nap through the day and being up most of the night leading up to the part where she would go 3 to 5 days wanting to sleep all day and be up all night. And then we slowly circled back to where she was sleeping at night again.

Solma

This kid really does sleep for the most part, but some nights she has issues falling asleep. I think she just inherited her father's insomnia, and it comes and goes with her.

Annie

This kid is allergic to milk and soy. We didn't know that at first. Nope, at 3 months of age, she broke out into a rash that spread everywhere but her butt and started oozing on her arm. It was bad. Doctors were useless. I was to a point where I actually considered, for only a second, grabbing the glock 40 and holding a doctor at gun point for some blood work. I dismissed that thought when the notion of sleeping with a doctor for some blood work crept into my head.

Really, what I needed was first the referral to the dermatologist. When I finally got that from the 4th doctor I saw specifically to get one, it took two months to get into the dermatologist, but we did. By then, the oozing went away on its own. We think it's from taking her to a public pool. So we recreated the pool scenario in our bath tub. A little bleach in the bath water (1 cup per 1 entire bath tub full of water, so we did 1/4 cup bleach and filled the tub almost halfway). That DRIES up the oozing of things like poison ivy and whatever rash my daughter had. Doctors disagreed about the bleach deal. Specialists were pro-bleach and regular doctors were anti-bleach.

By then I needed a referral to an allergist. That took several visits to get, but I found a doctor willing to work with me on referrals so yay. Progress. Unfortunately, he was anti-bleach and anti-goat's milk.

The first allergist refused to test. He instead wanted to dope up my 9 month old baby on antihistamines. I knew not to because of the FDA, but I was desperate at this point. So I attempted his instructions, and what happened... The antihistamine would knock her out for 2 hours, and then she would wake up hyper for 6. So about the time the other two were going to sleep, she was up all night up to about an hour before I had to wake all the kids up for school. We stopped the antihistamine after 2 weeks of it, but at her age, that was enough to make that her new sleep cycle, especially considering that she was still itching all the time and the itching kept her up.

I attempted a different allergist who was reluctant to test her for anything, but I was a bitch. I was a total bitch. I ripped him new assholes and grabbed his balls by my hand and twisted him into at least skin testing her which is where we realized she's allergic to milk and soy. That kind of sucks because formula is milk and soy only options. But by then, we had her drinking goat's milk, which we switched up to Rice Milk.

How I got my kids to sleep finally

Melatonin was awesome in the case of Gabby. Now it didn't work when she wasn't tired. Not at all. And I didn't give it to her every night like some doctors say you have to. Her doctor told me to give it to her as needed, and that's what I did. Only on nights I could tell she was tired and couldn't sleep did I give it to her. Melatonin is something your body produces naturally to help you fall asleep. Being in a dark and quiet room usually stimulates your brain into producing this. Experts suspect with autism, the brain isn't properly producing melatonin. In my kid's case, that wasn't every night. It was more like 3 nights a month did it ever help, but it would break the cycle. At this point, she hasn't taken Melatonin in over 3 years.

Prayer. I do a lot of praying, and while many who do not believe in God think I'm hallucinating an Almighty Problem Solver, I think I would be delusional to pretend that I fixed this situation completely on my own. There were many nights, out of desperation with a migraine, that I prayed profusely for God to help my kid sleep, and she never fell asleep on those nights until I prayed.

TV. I know this is a bad thing experts are totally against, but fuck the experts. They aren't up against my kids, and if they were, they wouldn't be experts anymore. The fact of the matter is you can't fall asleep until you are sitting still quietly for at least a few minutes, and you have to relax your mind. My kids don't do this naturally. They fight the tired, and then they get more hyper. I call it "hyper tired," and it's more mind boggling for the parent when kids are in hyper tired mode because that's when kids are confused, fight more, cry more, and definitely need more. Many parents at this point would suggest reading a book to your kid, but my kids won't sit still to hear a story, especially since we are talking multiple kids, so if your kids do, go that route. We allow the TV to calm my kids down. Some nights they don't watch TV but instead play with the TV on. That's when you got to get smart and pick their show for them, picking something that would suck them in based on their current interests. We always used Netflix instant streaming with this, whether it's connected to the Xbox, the Wii or the Kindle. I prefer the kids watch the Kindle at this point because it's quieter and makes the room darker.

Ambiance. Not the pill, that's Ambien. And it makes people talk to their appliances. No this is background, setting a sleep friendly environment. You know all the tips they tell you to get a baby to sleep? White noise. Turn out the lights. Maybe add a night light. Turn down the sound. Settle yourself down so you aren't moving and hyper like it's not bed time. Make sure the temperature is comfortable. That still works on kids and even adults. TV kind of breaks that deal, but adding a fan and making sure the room isn't too hot or cold is almost necessary sometimes. My kids won't go to sleep if I'm up cleaning, if lights are on in the other rooms, or if my tv is too loud. This is the time I usually sit down at the computer and do stuff, even if it's just Bejeweled Blitz.

Food and Bath Routine. We have a later dinner for this reason alone, or if we have an early dinner, we snack at about 7:30 to 8 PM. Why then? Timing. We don't do this every night, but I notice the kids fall asleep better on nights they are well fed and bathed. Bath time I think gets out that little extra hyper, soothes and relaxes, and then they sleep better when they are clean. Nobody can sleep well if they are sticky, sweaty, smelly, itchy or hungry.

Problem Solving. Really all it takes is good old fashioned problem solving abilities. Try to identify the issue, and then identify the cause, and try to find the real cause. Is it nightmares? What is causing nightmares? You might think it's something you were watching on TV the kid got a glimpse from, but it might be the argument your kid witnessed you have with another adult. Then come up with a list of solution ideas and attempt it one by one. Reevaluate over and over again. This gets old, but it's the thing behind all of my parenting approach. Every problem I've encountered with my children's behavior, I've approached it like a business meeting with myself. I set objectives. I identify issues. I choose my battles wisely. Some things have no solution. And sometimes solving a problem is embracing that.

In the case of Annie, hers was definitely finding the cause of her allergies and learning the different solutions to handling allergies. The things that help the most is reducing the allergens, duh, but also we found a nice topical steroid we use when her skin starts to get out of hand. I still give her an antihistamine, but only Zyrtec, and only when she intakes an allergen. These are all things that wouldn't work on everyone, but it works for her. It's customized to her body, her needs, her situation.

Things I don't do...

On the sleep schedule, I know a lot of parents think you make a schedule and then you train your kids like dogs to sleep at those hours. It doesn't always work that way. My kids, whether or not I woke them up early, let them nap, none of that changed when they fell asleep. I got to a point where waking them up every time they were sleeping because they were always sleeping at the wrong hours would have felt like a form of child abuse, so I wouldn't do that. If the only time they would sleep is from noon to 3, I let them have it because 3 hours is better than nothing.

School often interfered with my kids' sleep schedule they created on their own. It was definitely a struggle finding that balance between letting them sleep so they can behave like normal human beings and getting to and from school at their times. And the school, they don't care about your kid. You are your child's only advocate, and what's going to happen is if your child does not fit in the paradigm adults have hallucinated about kids, the world is going to be against you. Why not? Right? It's not like you needed a support system or anything.

If the oldest was up all night due to autism sleep issues, to wake her up regardless for school when she finally fell asleep would ascertain a day of meltdowns, transition issues, and other things teachers are not equipped to handle. Tired kids do not learn much. Many times, my kid missed half a day or a whole day because of her sleep, and the schools still hate me for forcing them into allowing that sort of thing. What they don't get, their lack of training on the subject of autism is what makes them a safety hazard if my kid isn't performing at her best to be there. So who is neglecting who Mr. School Smartypants?

The youngest, she wasn't sleeping because she wasn't tired. She was tired. When you got 3 kids with sleep issues sleeping various times of night, there's just a fine line between letting them sleep weird hours so they can sleep and trying to get them to sleep on a schedule. The fact remains, sometimes kids' schedules trump adult schedules, and adults who fail to see that are not qualified to speak on the subject.

And you do get a lot of those parents... the ones who are like, "Just make them go to sleep." Thank you Einstein for enlightening me with your expertise. Those people should run for public office. At least there, bull shit is appreciated.

Advice to the Weary

I'm assuming if you are still reading this, your kid isn't sleeping. I know it's difficult. At times it seems rather hopeless. But I'm here to tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And if I could go back in time and give myself advice, this is what I would say to myself.

Stand your ground. Don't let fools guide your way to dusty death (that's a reference to Shakespeare). If you are going to fail, then fail on your terms and not someone else's. Most of the time, you know the answers. You just have to listen to yourself. Parents know their children better than any expert on the field. And mothers are naturally equipped with some weird intuition. Listen to your inner voice, and stand up for your inner voice. Don't let the haters tear you down.

Find Moral Support. It exists. It really does. I found mine online. A group of women who are struggling their own battles who empathize, do not judge, and every time I needed to hear it, they would send me hearts and hugs and well wishes.

Sleep. Make someone watch your kids so you sleep at least 4 hours in every 24 hour period. Trust me, the battle required to do such a thing is worth every ounce of sleep. You cannot function sleep deprived. You will make stupid decisions. You will take 3 times as long to solve a problem. It takes longer to do the dishes or read emails sleep deprived. In addition, chronic long term sleep deprivation can get you SSI. Yes money sounds awesome, but incapable of working does not.


If for whatever reason you smell like pretty and you like my blog, you know, you can subscribe to it.

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

You can also find me under these rocks...
Follow on Bloglovin Find me on Facebook Find me on Twitter Find me on Pinterest find me on youtube Find me on Feedburner





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