By: Rachel Ventura

I like to sleep. It’s always been one of my favorite things to do. I honestly believe I require more sleep than the average adult. Becoming a mother changed all of that. Especially since I became the mother of a child who requires less sleep than the average child. My 4-year-old daughter has always been pretty horrible at sleeping. We have “ferberized” her quite a few times and still, she ends up in our bed most nights. What’s worse, she’s a night owl. She just can’t shut off her brain. We stopped her naps when she was 2 ½ because bed time was so tough. But even without a nap, the earliest she will fall asleep is 9, and that is EARLY for her. Most nights, it’s more like 10, and sometimes even later. I hear parents talking about how their kids are in bed and sleeping by 7pm, and I just don’t know how they do it! I am envious of all that Mom and Dad Time they get! I’m lucky if I can keep my eyes open for 30 minutes after the kids are in bed. My poor hubby.

We asked the pediatrician for advice at my daughter’s 3 year checkup, and he recommended melatonin. He said to get it at the drug store, split it in half, crush it up, and give it to her. It’s natural and non-habit forming, and we decided to give it a try. It worked! Wonders, actually! Within 30 minutes of giving her the medicine, she would be peacefully, sound asleep. It was magic! We were finally able to have the Mom and Dad Time we had heard all about, and much more importantly, our daughter was falling asleep at a decent hour and getting the amount of sleep she really needed.

So yes it worked, but we started to see a very unwelcomed side effect. She started having accidents, the kind you don’t want to have to deal with. After countless pairs of ruined princess undies, my husband realized that it seemed to be linked to the melatonin. On the days she was having accidents, we had given her the pill the night before. We ran a sort of experiment, to see if it was related, and sure enough, the nights we did not give her a pill, there were no accidents the next day. So of course, we stopped the melatonin and went back to late nights. Ugh.

Then about a year later, while at Target, I happened to see melatonin for children. This was 1mg chewable tablets, where the other pills were 5mg, cut in half. We decided to give it a try. I am happy to say, it works, and no side effects at all!!  She is falling asleep much earlier and easier, and bed time is so much more peaceful now. Although, most nights she does still come to our bed. But it’s not till 4 a.m. or so, and I know she won’t be doing it forever. To me, it’s not a huge deal. You need to pick and choose your battles. And honestly, I kind of enjoy the snuggles. Like I said, I know she won’t do it forever, and soon, she won’t even want a hug from me. So I cherish those couple hours of cuddling.

A cuddly morning in Mom and Dad’s bed
A cuddly morning in Mom and Dad’s bed.

Last night, though, was a doozy. This Mama, who I will remind you requires more sleep than most, is one tired lady. I think I got a total of maybe 2 hours of sleep. Here’s how last night went down:

10:30 p.m. – Mama goes to bed.

11 p.m. – Little Lady climbs into said bed. (This was very early for her to do so, so I knew something was up)

1 a.m. – Mama wakes up to Little Lady tossing and turning, which continues for the next 2 ½ hours.

3:30 a.m. – Mama realizes Little Lady is burning up, get up and give Motrin.

4 a.m. – Little Lady finally still and sleeping, Mama is just about to doze off, Little Man wakes up crying.

4:05 a.m. – Mama gets up, locates binky that has fallen on floor, tucks Little Man in, goes back to bed.

4:30 a.m. – Mama is once again just about to fall asleep, Little Man wakes up crying again.

4:35 a.m. – Mama tucks Little Man back in, goes back to bed.

5 a.m. – Little Lady wakes up and has to use potty.

5:30 a.m. – Everyone is tucked in and falling asleep.

6:30 a.m. – Alarm clock goes off. Everyone is up.

It’s now 9 a.m. and needless to say, I am on my fourth cup of coffee. Last night was a bit off, since my Little Lady wasn’t feeling well, but it isn’t too far from our normal nightly routine. I miss sleep. I really do. I remember soon after giving birth the first time around, how quickly I realized that maybe I don’t actually need as much sleep as I once thought I did. I mean, I was functioning, sort of anyways, on about half of the amount of sleep I was getting before children. I know one day I’ll be able to sleep again. And I do long for those nights. But I also know, when that time comes, I will miss these sleepless nights and tired mornings. Obviously not the sickness, but the cuddling, the tucking in, the goodnight hugs and kisses, the kids being little and needing me, will be missed greatly.

Time flies way too fast. Kids grow and don’t stop or slow down, no matter how much we will it to happen. This I know. So I will hold on to every little moment and tuck it away in a safe place and dream about it one day when I am able to sleep long enough to actually have a dream. I never thought I would say this, but sleep is overrated anyways.

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