Our nearly three-year-old Tilly has become unusually clingy at bedtime, refusing to go off to sleep without me staying in her room. At the same time her night-time sleeping started going downhill too with night waking becoming all too regular. As the sleep problems grew, I decided to it was time to try the gradual retreat technique.
It’s the time of year parents of early-waking children dread. The clocks go back, turning already eye-wateringly early starts into brain dead middle of the night waking. I am once again in fear for my sanity. Past posts on this blog attest to our various efforts to permanently move Tilly’s wake up time later. We’ve used and continue to use the Gro Clock and have added treats if she waits for the sun but all have been in vain. When Tilly wakes after 5am she wants to be up. Encouraging her to stay in bed leads to screaming, waking my wife too, so it’s best to bite the bullet and simply get up. I’ve found I’ve adapted to waking at around 5:30 every morning. Well I say adapted, in reality my body fights doing anything at that hour but I make my best zombie parenting efforts until caffeine and food eventually kick in. The impending winter clock change with its ruthless plan to transform Tilly’s waking from 5:30 to 4:30 fills my heart with doom. Once again it’s time to gradually move Tilly’s bedtime later in an attempt to compensate for this seasonal quirk. It’s not a straightforward deal, though, as a later bedtime doesn’t immediately reap results in the morning. Instead you find your precious evening time curtailed while still dealing with waking early. Great. The hope is that at 15 mins each night it will eventually give the morning wake up a bump later. Come the clock change it should, toddler willing, be nearer to what it is now, once those pesky clocks have fallen back. It is nevertheless a fairly miserable time with little sleep, no time to ourselves and a potentially tired child to boot. So should you see me, or parents like me in
The school summer holidays are here, which means that I’ve officially survived a whole year of being a stay-at-home dad. An awful lot has changed since last summer when I hung up my office shirts for the last time. There have been high points but there have been struggles too. Time, then, to spend a moment looking back on the past twelve months.
Glorious summer days, coats packed away for the season and endless play outside. All true but difficult to enjoy when accompanied by dreadful sleep. It happens every summer and this year is no different. The sun rises at an hour when no sane person should be up and remains high in the sky long past when little ones should be slumbering. It all contributes to hard won sleeping patterns going out the window.
I thought we had a deal, you and me. You’d manage ten hours at night and top up with a hearty daytime nap. Yet what do we have now but ever earlier waking and signs of dropping your nap. Now you’ve left me second-guessing our routine and we both know that one false move will see it all come crashing down around our ears.
As a parent of an early-rising toddler, the prospect of her waking an hour earlier following the clocks changing fills my heart with dread. An already yawn inducing 5.30am suddenly becomes a brain mushingly early 4.30am. This year we’re using the tactic of moving Tilly’s bedtime later by 10 minutes a night. Even though our timing hasn’t always been quite on target we have found that even a modest change in bedtime has bumped her waking from 5:15 – 5:45, which had become the norm, to around 6am. This was unexpected as previous attempts at making bedtime later have been met with resolute early waking and more grumpiness owing to less sleep.