Thursday 10th October 2013 – The day I began tough love.

Thursday 10th October 11.30 pm

I’m crying. Big tears of shame, exasperation and exhaustion.

 I can’t cope any more with the night time waking . I know it’s only 11.30 pm but I came to bed at 8 pm, exhausted from lack of sleep, night after night.

Allan is working away and I miss him dreadfully.

Lily woke at 10.30 pm, and after I soothed her with a kiss and a cuddle, as I do every night, she refused to go back to bed, as she does every night. Several times a night, every night.

I spoke to her in my sternest voice. I told her that mummy was no longer going to be coming to her room several times a night, and that she was to stay in bed and go to sleep. I told her mummy was tired, she needed to sleep as does she. She acknowledged this, but I know I will find myself in this same situation later on in the night. I will tell her again, and again, and again. The same as every other night, for the past 18 months.

Right now, as melodramatic as it sounds, I feel broken  ( is that dramatic enough? )

I hate myself for getting cross with her. Shouting and hissing through my teeth, as I feel my control slip away. Goodness knows what the neighbours must think. I know they hear us. They have told me. I think this as well as trying to keep her quiet because Allan has work the next day, has kept me on this mission to keep peace and harmony during the night. Thinking that I could always catch up on some sleep if necessary in the day, but Lily doesn’t nap any more in the day. If I let her nap now, then as well as being up the majority of the night, she won’t go to bed until 9-10 pm. 

I’m frustrated with myself for not being the parent I should be. Some people telling me to toughen up, be firm, stronger. It isn’t easy. Yes, it’s easy from the sidelines, watching, listening, and giving well meaning advice. If you’ve not done it, try it. It’s hard. 

I’m tired. Lily is tired. Why doesn’t she sleep? Why doesn’t she fall thankfully in to bed and cherish the 10-12 hours of sleep ahead? What I would do for the chance to have just a few of those hours?

Tonight I have told myself that there must be a solution to this. 

We have tried all of the text book advice: rapid return, sitting in her room and gradually retreating, going in every few minutes to reassure her until she falls asleep. We’ve threatened her, promised her all sorts of treats if she stays in bed, made her a lovely wall chart with stickers with rewards at certain points reached. None of them have worked. What we haven’t tried to any extent is tough love (I call it torture, as it’s feels tortuous to me and sounds tortuous from Lily). Allan would have probably sorted it all out if I hadn’t have wept every time the stair gate went on her door, or the times he’s shut her door for a few seconds. Her wails sending me in to desperate guilt and feelings of how much damage we were doing mentally! The truth is, I know she won’t remember it. She’s only just gone 2 1/2 for goodness sake. 

I love her

So, I need to sort this one thing out. I need to be the parent she needs. Someone who is consistent (I’m not), someone who is strong (I’m really not), and someone who can show her love (I can do that – go me!).

Tonight, I have made my plan. Allan will approve I’m sure. 

I have told her already that I shall not be going back and forth to her room all night. I have been in once (well 3 times – it’s not easy) and she has had her kiss and cuddle, and her quilt placed over her, because she says she can’t do it, and has had a wee, and has found something to blow her snotty nose, on and she has wailed continuously for a kiss and a cuddle and wailed because she can hear a noise and wailed because she has lost her ‘thing’ that she blew her nose on. and wailed because she wants to sleep with me…..

I am NOT going back in. 

She hasn’t got back out of bed, which is a start.

I have told her that I will not go in any more tonight. I’m not, I’m not!

 I will continue with this method, despite it going against all my motherly instincts. 

Okay, so it’s hardly hardcore. I’m not chaining her to the bed, giving her 50 lashes or drugging her, and it’s probably going to hurt me more.

It’s half past midnight. Lily has been quiet for 15 minutes. Perhaps she is asleep. 


21 thoughts on “Thursday 10th October 2013 – The day I began tough love.

  1. That is such a hard thing. My daughter would get up several times a night, too. I finally had to do the same as you. It broke my heart all to pieces and I still lost sleep because I would be in bed crying my eyes out. But, it didn’t take too long and she stopped waking me up every few hours. She would still have a rare night where she had a nightmare or something, but it did get better. Hang in there and I do relate to this!

  2. Jean says:

    It gets easier. It really does but they really get confused by the inconsistency. Once you stick to your guns they get it but it is so hard. I speak from experience: My first child didn’t seem to sleep through the night until I was pregnant with my second child and just too exhausted to get up with him anymore. I hope she comes round soon.

    • Thank you Jean.
      You feel so cheated when you don’t get the sleep you need!
      I think I may have just found the strength. Lily woke full of love and cuddles for me this morning. 🙂

      • Oh dear… no it doesn’t make me feel better, knowing someone else is having problems too 😦
        If you have to go to work on top of that, then goodness knows how you cope!
        I’m lucky to be able to afford to stay home with Lily.

  3. Good on you!! I know it is hard, I have been there and done that but believe me it does work!! It is so easy to doubt yourself, to give in and give up on your plan but consistency and patience is the key. It won’t happen overnight and it may even get worse before it gets better but stick with it. I remember one of the first nights we put our little man in his big bed, he got out and I put him back 27 times in a row (yes I counted). Most would have given in, thought it wasn’t working but we stuck with it. The second night it was 5 times. By the third night he stopped doing it and has never done it since! And please do not ever let anyone tell you that you are doing something wrong but not rushing in everytime your daughter calls you. You are not leaving her in the middle of the road. She is at home, she is safe, you are there. Yes she is young and many people will tell you she just needs her mummy but I also think it’s really important for a child to feel safe and comfortable in their own company- it’s a really important skill to have.Don’t think you’re doing something wrong because you’re enforcing boundaries. Kids need boundaries.
    Sorry, I realise I’ve just jumped way up onto my high horse here but I’ve just seen so many of my mummy friends put up with lack of sleep and exhaustion then tell me I’m lucky that my son is a great sleeper. But that didn’t just happen overnight. It took hard work and patience.
    I wish you all the very best- I think you will be happy you decided to do this- keep us updated!

    • Haha, you keep on riding that horse right by me! I’m soaking up all the advice from mums who have been there and done it! I should have before. I have a friend who had the same thing with her daughter but chose not to listen to her advice for using tough love.
      Everything you have said is so true. Lily will benefit from the boundaries. I know it, I’m actually quite a sensible person and would have happily given the same advice to others, despite not following it myself!
      I intend to keep at it. Last night was awful but we had successful moments.
      Thank you 🙂

  4. I feel your pain…. Hang in there, I’m afraid though that I don’t have any advice AT ALL to give you, what I know is that things will do get better in time. T only calls for me twice now and that’s an improvement for me/us. I keep telling myself (when it gets bad) that she won’t be like this forever. That the time will come when she probably won’t even want me in her room! All the best, D.

    • Thanks Dean
      It’s hard work, but I’m determined to slog it out with her.
      Proof this morning when she came in all smiles and happy, that I’m not going to cause any harm by being tough!
      Lack of sleep is really beginning to affect my mental state, and being tearful all day is no benefit to any of us!
      I hope T continues to get better too x

  5. you poor thing that does sound tough. It sounds like you are doing the right thing though, don’t feel bad, just stick to your guns and i’m sure you will both be much better off for it. Crossing my fingers for a good night tonight x

  6. Sleep is my motherhood hurdle. With Half Pint I didn’t get him into a routine, then tried everything including cry it out until I ended up co-sleeping with him most nights until he was three or four. Now with Mini Milk the only full night of sleep I’ve had in the 13 months since he’s been here was the one night two weeks ago he stayed with my mum…and even then I didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight as it was a special occasion, and was up again at 6 for work! I don’t have advice, because clearly I am in no position, but I do feel your pain and I hope for your sake things click for her soon and she starts to sleep through.

    • Oh my, Sarah Anne – two of them? it must be so hard, especially as you have to work too. I don’t know how you cope!
      I’ll be keeping things updated here, and hopefully will have something positive to write very soon 🙂

  7. Beada says:

    I remember Callum’s lack of sleep. It was awful! We also tried all the things the books said but to no avail. Finally i listened to his doctor and just let him cry it out. I sat on the couch and cried as he screamed in his room for what seemed like hours. When he fell asleep i crept in to make sure he was still breathing. He was. It didn’t take more than a couple days for him to sleep all night.

    Now I want to know how to get him to wake up!

    • Beada, thank you for this!
      Knowing Callum as a perfectly stable, lovely human being, I know that Lily won’t be scarred for life from our current battles!
      Thank you xxx
      Love you all

  8. Kaz says:

    Just wanted to encourage you too. We also had to resort to the tough love method, hated it but it works. My son now goes to sleep at 6pm used to be 7pm but he does not sleep in the day and wakes up at 6.30am and waits till I’m up anytime between 7-8.
    He is much happier, has more energy during the day and not scarred by it.
    Really the key thing is consistency because we were rubbish at that as soon as we stuck to our guns we saw the result in days – sleeping through on the 3rd day then regularly withing two weeks. Hang in there. xx

    • Thanks Kaz
      Your comments mean a lot.
      It’s so important to be strong and consistent. I’m trying very hard, despite being the softie! I’ve got fingers crossed for another full nights sleep tonight x

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