Even when Dylan stopped waking up at night to cry lustily every few hours — a stage I thought was never, ever going to end, by the way — he was what you might call a difficult sleeper. It wasn’t until he was maybe three years old that I could be reasonably certain he’d sleep through the night, and even then it was sort of a crapshoot. Even now, actually. He’s almost five, and he often wakes up late at night with a sort of confused, blurry sound of increasing frustration, and when you go in there to see what’s the matter, he can’t say. I once overheard him talking to Riley about a dream he’d had, which he described, darkly, as “I was going swimming but I had all my clothes on,” so I suspect he’s still having bad dreams on a regular basis. Thankfully, they aren’t the utterly awful-looking night terrors they used to be (a toddler having a night terror is a deeply fucked up thing to observe, as I’m sure some of you know first-hand), and he certainly doesn’t seem bothered by them, but his wake ups happen frequently enough that I lie there, every night, with one ear humming like an amateur radio antenna.

Have you read Catherine Newman’s Waiting for Birdy? I really cannot recommend it enough, without maybe grasping the front of your shirt, yanking you close, and hissing in your face that EVERY WORD OF IT IS TRUTH AND BEAUTY AND JESUS JUST READ IT, but anyway, I particularly love this line of hers about sleep:

Nothing can prepare you for the Sleep of the Parents. If sleep is an ocean, then I used to sleep on the floor of it, a sunken thing among the catfish, bubbles blooping from my dreaming mouth towards the surface. Now I sleep in a little rowboat. In a thunderstorm, during a war, with cannons going off all night long. And also sharks.

God, yes. Sleep seems to have changed forever and ever for me, even though my children are no longer tiny diapered poop-monsters constantly going off like squalling alarm clocks. I jerk and twitch at every sound, despite the earplugs I so dutifully squish into place each evening before turning off my light. Dylan’s occasional dream-murmurs, a gunshot-loud cough from Riley: I float all night from huh? to whew, back and forth in Catherine’s rowboat.

The kids have spent the last two nights with their grandparents, and it’s been a wonderful little break to jump in the car and see a movie (we went to Django Unchained one night and Life of Pi the next, and I loved them both) or go out for dinner or simply relax in the living room without hearing two demented hooligans racing back and forth making that awful GI Joe laser sound, somehow even more annoying than the more sibilant gun noises (pzzzew pzzzew pzzzew!), but maybe the best part has been the sleep. The peaceful, startle-free, guarantee of it.

So, tell me, parents of older kids. Does the roiling war-torn Sleep of the Parents ever change? Or is that the forever of it: the nightly business of ear-craning, breath-checking, and jolting-awake-at-3-AM-because-someone-cleared-their-throat?

Comments

57 Responses to “The Sleep of the Parents”

  1. Erin on January 3rd, 2013 9:34 am

    Oh this is so, so spot-on. I wonder if it also is just something biological? On a cellular level, I feel like I just have to be ready at all time.

    (Also, I’ve heard it gets better when they get older, except for the part where they turn into teenagers and break curfew.)

  2. Cathleen on January 3rd, 2013 9:37 am

    My oldest is 21 and my youngest is 15. I go to bed before all of them. Last night, the oldest, who is back from college for a few weeks, went out at 11 PM and came home – with a couple of friends – at 2:30 in the morning. The night was, apparently, still young. I will spend the day alternately yawning and thinking about strangling him (he is sound asleep now of course; it’s not yet noon). The wake-ups are much less frequent, but they still happen.

  3. Janet in Miami on January 3rd, 2013 9:38 am

    Yes. Xanax. Yesss.

  4. Courtney on January 3rd, 2013 9:40 am

    My daughter is 7 weeks old. She has slept through the night the last 3 nights in a row (OMFG WE ARE SO SO SO SO SOOOO LUCKY). I, however, have not. A cough from my husband, a groan from the dog, the baby snuffling around in her crib, etc. I was awake from 3:45am onward today.

    So… thanks for telling me that it doesn’t really get better for like, 5-10 years?

  5. sharon on January 3rd, 2013 9:42 am

    The problem as they get older is that they stay up later. Or they stay out later and need to be picked up from somewhere. Or they invite friends to sleep over and that is another story all together. But I still wouldn’t go back to those baby days of waking up several times per night to feed, change or figure out what they heck will make them go back to sleep.

  6. Rachel on January 3rd, 2013 9:53 am

    My kids sleep pretty solidly, so there IS that, but I sleep like a log. I wake up right away if there’s a problem, but those are rare enough that unless one of my kids is sick, I don’t do that half-sleep-on-alert thing that I did when they were smaller. (They’re teenagers now but it’s been this way for at least five or so years.)

  7. Anonymous on January 3rd, 2013 9:54 am

    As a parent of teen I now lay awake listening for a kid sneaking out of the house…or sneaking into the house. So nope, I guess the sleep never gets better. Sorry.

  8. AnEmily on January 3rd, 2013 9:57 am

    I’m super tired from being up in the middle of the night, as I am almost every night this past month or so, and dealing with my nightmare-prone 9yo. He goes through phases, I guess related to his growth-spurts? There HAVE been a few nights that I’ve slept without interruption, but I can’t think of them right now.
    Thanks for reminding me of Catherine Newman, holy caw. She was one of the first blogs I ever read, when her son was a tot, and I had totally forgotten about her. No reason, other than I just kind of reached maximum parenting blog capacity.
    Good luck with the sleep issues. Uh, it gets better! Probably?

  9. Liz on January 3rd, 2013 9:59 am

    I think it depends on their sleep patterns while they are growing up.

    Mine weren’t terribly bad (youngest much better than oldest who used to ‘eh eh eh’ constantly for NO APPARENT REASON as a baby until I threw out the baby monitor and decided that if he needed me I would certainly hear him, lusty lungs indeed)and now at aged 10 and almost 7 I definitely keep a mom ear out for them but no longer jump and twitch at every squeak. (oh did I also mention that oldest now talks all night long IN HIS SLEEP?)

    So basically if I hear feet hit the floor I surface, otherwise we are all pretty much finally at peace.

  10. alexa on January 3rd, 2013 10:06 am

    This speaks perfectly to my current exhaustion. My 4 year old has always been a good sleeper. Unfortunately my 1 1/2 year old is a poor sleeper. Teething doesn’t disrupt sleep for a week or two but for months, any slight discomfort has her up and moaning/screaming. Then once in a while she sleeps through the night, just to show she can physically do it. And of course the nights that she sleeps I hear phantom cries and get up and check on her anyway.
    I really miss sleeping.

  11. Mary on January 3rd, 2013 10:09 am

    My daughter is very much like your Dylan sleep-wise. She’s 3 and still wakes up every night and gets OUT of bed every time at about 3:30 a.m.

    I’m programmed to wake up just before she does. Sometimes she just toddles into our room, sometimes she sleepwalks downstairs mumbling weird nonsense, sometimes she wakes up screaming and is entirely inconsolable.

    Baby #2 is on the way now, and if there is any sort of just God in the universe, this one will be a sleeper. Or I will die.

  12. Aubrey on January 3rd, 2013 10:34 am

    My daughters are almost 6 and 3 1/2 right now. The older one was a terrible sleeper as a baby/toddler, but now she falls asleep within 0.231 seconds of crawling in bed, and wakes up happy when it’s time for school. The younger was a better sleeper overall as an infant, but still not really great. About a year ago, I changed up the bedtime routine and now she sleeps almost as well as her older sister. I used to sleep just as you do, waking up to every. single. noise. all. the. time., but now, I generally sleep soundly enough that I only wake up if I hear them get out of bed (their room is right above mine).

  13. Lindsey on January 3rd, 2013 10:49 am

    Have you tried white noise? I find it drowns out things better than ear plugs. Or, use both. There’s a white noise app that I use every night now even though my son is almost 7 and sleeps much better than I do! It is great for hotels/ overnights at strange houses.

  14. Sheri on January 3rd, 2013 10:55 am

    My boys are teenagers now, and the oldest has been driving for about a year. It may just be me, but I cannot sleep when my kid is out if he is driving. If he’s not driving I can sometimes sleep, but the driving ramped up my anxiety like nothing else. My husband doesn’t have my issues; he can sleep even if our kid is out driving on the highway in a torrential rainstorm. Every siren I hear I worry for a second that its him, and I also want to make sure he actually comes home when he’s supposed to. We are super strict on curfews but I don’t want him out all night, so I have had to threaten to come get him on a few nights when he wasn’t home by midnight.

    I guess that’s not the answer you hoped for. I know its not what I hoped for when they got past that baby/no solid sleep age. I vaguely remember a time when I wasn’t constantly exhausted, but the memory is fading.

  15. Lindsey on January 3rd, 2013 11:45 am

    First, let me join my voice to the Catherine Newman/Waiting for Birdy chorus of praise … I loved, loved, loved that book. And second, my children are 10 and almost 8 and we are back to sleeping soundly … though I still need a fan blowing on me and complete darkness, affectations which really only began when I became a parent. So maybe it’s never QUITE the same again!

  16. Deb on January 3rd, 2013 11:59 am

    Well, those aren’t very encouraging comments, are they? Perhaps there’s some point when the kids are, say, eleven, when they are old enough to stop waking us every time they roll over vehemently, and yet are too young to go anywhere at night without us.

    There’s got to be a 6 month window in there somewhere.

    Right?

  17. Eve on January 3rd, 2013 12:29 pm

    My 4-year-old sounds a lot like your Dylan. She’s almost 5, and still I can’t ever trust that she’ll sleep through the night. And by sleep through the night, I mean sleep until 5:30 am. Arrgh.
    I also have twins who are 17 months old. God it’s awful. I mean I love them of course, but sleep is not a part of my current life. If one sleeps, the other most likely doesn’t. I spend all my time in a haze, I feel. And when they do occasionally sleep the whole night (again, until around 5 or so), I wake up to every sound. BAH!
    I sure hope it gets better! But I needed to comment so that I could also tell you that I love your writing and have read it for years. I feel a connection to you even though we live across the country from each other. Thanks for writing stuff here. A lot of the time, I feel like you must be the only other mom in the country feeling things similar to me! So thanks again.

  18. Deborah on January 3rd, 2013 12:38 pm

    Being a mother of a 17 year old and a 2 year old I can safely safe it gets better, but wait then it gets worse! Between the ages of 8 to 15 you can actually sleep (unless of course he/she is sick). Then they turn 16 and it all changes again. They will keep you up playing Xbox and screaming at the t.v., or they go out and you can’t sleep until they are all safe and sound at home, and/or when they are home and being quiet you think oh no he/she has snuck out of the house, I need to go check!

  19. June on January 3rd, 2013 12:39 pm

    One of my 2.5-y-o twins talks a lot in her sleep – I can hear her yelling “No,it’s MY TURN” and her sisters’ names and stuff like that. And as a formerly very light sleeper (my cell phone beeping timidly because it had low power, 1 floor below the bedroom, used to wake me up), sometimes my husband now tells me in the morning that he was up at 3 AM cuddling the girl back to sleep and I was completely unaware. So the sleep gets better… if you’re chronically sleep deprived, you sleep like the dead when sleep finally lays its veil over you.

  20. Amanda on January 3rd, 2013 1:57 pm

    It gets better, it definitely definitely does, but…going back to “normal” sleep leaves you completely incapable of handling the occasional stomach flu or up all night coughing bronchitis. This type of thing takes training. You can’t just go back and forth willy nilly.

    I have a 9 and 11 yo (who finally mostly almost sleeps if he doesn’t have a nightmare) and it’s good…except when it isn’t.

  21. Patty on January 3rd, 2013 2:06 pm

    My son will be 22 next week (geez…) and when he is home from college, his hours are, ahem, somewhat nocturnal. I wake up to video game fests at all hours. When he goes back to school I still wake up and listen for him before realizing he isn’t here. I guess once you’re programmed as a parent it sticks for life.

  22. Emily on January 3rd, 2013 2:28 pm

    As the mom of a formerly TERRIBLE 11 yr old sleeper and a regular 8 yr old sleeper, sleep is not on the ocean floor, but neither is it in that goddamn lurching rowboat. It’s glorious and I am consciously thankful for it every day.

  23. Laura on January 3rd, 2013 3:13 pm

    I can’t speak as a parent, but as my mother said when her 4 adult children were home for the holidays this year: “Jesus, I can’t sleep with all you guys home! It makes me nervous!”

    So I guess you can look forward to deep peaceful sleep in about 21 years.

  24. Randy on January 3rd, 2013 3:31 pm

    It certainly has gotten better for me. My daughter used to have night terrors and we determined they were from a lack of rest… getting to bed too late or needing a nap during the day.

    Now my teen an preteens sleep the night away. Separate bedrooms has been a godsend too.

  25. Maggie on January 3rd, 2013 4:48 pm

    My oldest is nearly 10 and sleeps like a log. Youngest is 3.5 and also sleeps well. I, however, have never returned to my pre-child ability to sleep deeply and without anxiety every night. Oldest was a challenge as a baby and hated sleep. I think that time did something irrevocable to my wiring such that I don’t sleep as well as I used to. If I wake in the night, my brain starts going and it’s hard to get back to sleep even if nothing is happening. I don’t know. My kids generally sleep really well, but my ability to do so seems to have been semi-permanently damaged.

  26. Claudia on January 3rd, 2013 5:02 pm

    My daughters are 12 and 8 and most nights they sleep soundly and well. It’s actually very rare that my youngest wakes up. So rare I’d almost say never but you know what happens when you say things like “my kids never….” because that’s when it happens. My youngest..jesus. She slept in my bed for ages. And once she had a big bed she would get out and sleep with me and there would be months and months of sleeping in her bed followed by years and eons of her crawling in with me. And she doesn’t sleep quietly or soundly. She talks and thrashes. I would attempt to sneak out and sleep in HER bed and sometimes she’s wake up and come find me and sometimes not. Guess which happened more often. That hasn’t happened in a long time. And now, NOW, a most blessed thing has happened….I can sleep as late at 8:00 or 8:30 without being disturbed! Yes. It is true. My oldest daughter was always a decent sleeper past the baby stage and now sleeps until 10 or 11am. The youngest will wake around 8am and often just stay in her room playing and talking to herself. You know she’s awake because her door is closed and the bathroom light is on. But, one day, this will happen to you. And it’ll NEVER get old. Ever.

  27. Lori on January 3rd, 2013 5:04 pm

    With a 7 and 5-year old, we were sleeping pretty well. Not the same as pre-kids, of course, but not too bad. Then we went and had another baby. Love the new one to pieces, but I am so, so tired. Looking forward to the day when I get more than four straight hours of sleep.

  28. H on January 3rd, 2013 5:33 pm

    Mine are 21 and 24. I think I slept pretty well when they were between the ages of 7 and 14. I think. As soon as they could drive and their social lives broadened, I haven’t slept well. They moved away for college and turned 21 about the time I hit perimenopause so I hardly sleep at all. The perimenopause wakes me up and, depending on the day of the week, I start wondering if they have a DD or if they’re walking in the dark and/or cold night. I’m a worrier, though, but my husband isn’t and he sleeps like the dead.

    I hate to be a Debby Downer but this is a huge issue for me right now. I feel like I’m constantly exhausted.

  29. Nix on January 3rd, 2013 5:41 pm

    My 3 sons are currently 18, 16 and 15. My middle guy had night terrors for years and it made me a wreck. The older they get, the better the sleep gets. We had a rocky period last summer after my now-ex and I split where said middle son was very depressed and I can honestly say that was the one time I felt thrown back to the sleep terror years. I slept with one eye open, convinced I was going to wake and my son would be physically there but gone away. Now, though, sleep comes pretty easily and fairly soundly…if a little lighter than when they’re safely with other family members. Fingers crossed that as yours grow, your sleep deepens too :)

  30. Jen on January 3rd, 2013 6:00 pm

    Catherine Newman – loved the book! She still writes a blog – and it still makes me laugh every time.

    http://www.benandbirdy.blogspot.com

  31. T. on January 3rd, 2013 7:10 pm

    Oh god. I won’t even discuss my youngest (she’s 4, almost 5) child’s sleep issues outside of anonymous internet comments. She hasn’t slept through the night at all, except for a handful of times, since she was born. I have tried everything under the sun. She would make herself barf all over when we tried to let her “cry it out.” The rare times that she did cry herself out, she would wake up 15 minutes later and we’d start the process over. I literally (LIT-RALLY!) spiraled into a full blown sleep deprived crazy one night, after she hadn’t slept longer than one hour at a time for a full week. My husband slept through it all (or he faked it, like they do) so I was up and down all night, culminating in me laying on the bathroom mat scream crying and banging my head on the floor. She had broken me. Me, a normal, sane human being. Slamming my bean on the ground. After that, I said fuck it, and I would lay down on the couch with her the first time she woke up (she wouldn’t sleep on our bed. Of course), so at the very least I got a little bit of sleep. Slowly, she started getting up later and later to lay on the couch. Even now, she’s up around 4 AM bleating for me to lay with her… and you know what? I fucking do, because I am never letting one of these darling little dicks steal sleep from me again. AGAIN! My husband thinks I’m a softy, and complains that I give in too easily, but then I remind him of the 3 years of sleep deprivation that led to me rolling around on the bathroom floor and he shuts the hell up.

  32. Megan on January 3rd, 2013 7:37 pm

    The above comment from T. is so freaking marvelous, I just want to read it forever and ever.

    (I’m sorry about your bean, T.!)

  33. Niki on January 3rd, 2013 7:52 pm

    My boys are 17 and 15 and a cough still wakes me up. 17 yr olds room is in the basement and I can sense him waking up- honest to God I’m that in tune with them. 15 got sick in the night a few weeks ago and it was the first time he didn’t call out to me. I was awake anyway and I hovered in the hall and got him a drink but he didn’t need me to rub his back or wipe his face.

    What am I going to do when 17 goes to college in August????? I’m scared.

  34. Jennifer on January 3rd, 2013 8:16 pm

    Mine are boys…17 and 18. It’s a huge stress navigating this new “adulthood” one of them now has, but with near complete financial dependence on us as parents. Both are “A” students, but that doesn’t make it all hunky-dory. The oldest is in college living at home and has a job at school. Sure, I slept great until the driving, sex, angry rebellion and pot smoking started with the oldest. I’ve never worried so much in all my life as I have this past year. Afraid he’ll die in a wreck (two wrecks into stationary objects so far), get someone pregnant (I cannot get used to seeing condoms in my kid’s garbage can..oh god…ick), ruin his future….etc. Never had a favorite kid until now, either. My favorite is the one that doesn’t ever give me any trouble. This year has been the hardest one by far for me as a parent. Let’s just say sleep got better and better for a long while then it got worse. I’m wiped out.

  35. Amy on January 3rd, 2013 9:44 pm

    T… You have my very deepest sympathies. I was there once, too.

    My youngest was a horrible sleeper until he was about 3, which is when my then 11-year-old resumed having night terrors. Every night. She’d had them from birth to about eight and then stopped for a while after our youngest was born. So, baby didn’t sleep through the night until 3, then daughter didn’t sleep through the night until about 13. She’s 16 now, so I’ve had about three years of good sleep. After being on mommy duty every night for so many years, I’m letting my husband deal with the teenagers.

  36. Crystal on January 3rd, 2013 10:40 pm

    This may or may not be helpful. We, and I mean all three bedrooms, sleep with box or round floor fans on high. The loud ones, Wind Tunnels! Always have. When they were babies I kept a monitor that I could only hear when they REALLY needed me. Now they are 10 & 6 and they know where to find me. Seriously, we travel with fans. I sleep on the bottom of the ocean nightly. And yes, I read her book and want to marry Catherine.

  37. Melodee on January 3rd, 2013 10:56 pm

    When my twins were young, they woke up at 6 AM every morning. One of them had night terrors for a couple of years. Just when they started to sleep better, I had a baby. When that baby turned 4 and a half, I had another baby.

    Now the twins are almost 20 and the youngest is 10 and I am getting some awesome sleep. So, just wait 10 years and you, too, will sleep again. Also, I sleep with a fan on for the white noise, just like the commenter above me.

  38. Stephanie on January 4th, 2013 7:23 am

    I have three; the oldest and youngest have, mercifully, always been great sleepers. The middle one, however…yowza! She was about 5 before she would reliably sleep through the night. Now she is nearly 10, and sleeps like a champ. So in that respect, it did get better for me. But I do still suffer from mom-light-sleepitis. I find that I am still overly-tuned-in to sounds that could possibly be kid-related. I also sleep with a fan on for the white noise, and it helped a ton.

  39. Sande on January 4th, 2013 7:41 am

    2 y.o. has been a relatively good sleeper. Had some night terrors and those, yes, are awful!!! We have a humidifier and white noise machine in her room and we have a fan in ours. We still have a monitor so we get her humidifier and her white noise in our room with the occasional interference from the monitor. Some nights I hear everything, the moans, the cry in her sleep, and thump of her appendages hitting the side of her toddler bed…other nights, I am completely unaware I have a child. As others have said, it depends on how sleep deprived you are. Honestly knowing I have a husband who if I don’t hear her, will and HE gets up.

  40. Being a Parent Changes the Way You Sleep Forever on January 4th, 2013 9:43 am

    [...] read a blog post recently that perfectly described the sleep of parents. I thought the author’s description was hilarious, but also spot on. She compared sleep to an [...]

  41. Amy K on January 4th, 2013 10:12 am

    The Sleep of the Mothers, maybe. My husband can, and has, slept through our house alarm going off, so he’s definitely NOT disturbed by every grunt and murmur coming from our toddler’s room. And I’ve always been that person who wakes up if the floor creaks, so having a kid took me from bad sleeper to truly terrible insomniac sleeper. She’s almost four now and has slept like a log from day one. I’ll probably go back to just being a bad sleeper when she leaves for college (wah!), except then my subconscious will be listening for the phone.

  42. Annika on January 4th, 2013 2:05 pm

    Just the mention of the words “night terrors” made me stiffen up. My oldest son had them and I swear I thought I was going to die from the shear helpless horror of them. I had trouble with both boys sleeping but I got on this German military-like routine kick and it was like clockwork. I mean, we were down to the fucking minute with Bath, books, pee, snuggle, sleep. EVERY NIGHT. Eventually it worked and now they just crash when the routine is over. Somehow I programmed those little dudes. I hope you find something that works.

  43. Betsy on January 4th, 2013 3:34 pm

    4.5 year old woke me up last night at 3am by gently tap-tap-tapping on my fucking eyelids. I haven’t slept for 4.5yrs, and now she’s taking god-damned years off of my life by the sneak attack eyeball tappings. I hear ya sister, I know you don’t drink, so I have no good solutions for ya!!

  44. Maura on January 4th, 2013 6:43 pm

    My two boys are 18 and 19. You probably will get some good sleep most of elementary school and maybe middle school. Once mine started driving and the pot smoking and drinking kicked in…I can’t sleep. I need to be home and awake to assess the condition they come home in. Although when the oldest is at college, oddly I don’t worry, you really can’t you just sleep with the cell phone in the bedroom in case campus security, the police or the hospital call, since you rarely will get a call from them, an occasional text for money:) Next year both will be at college at least 1/2 the year and I’m praying I get some sleep, although I’m entertaining the idea of a puppy, that will kill sleeping!

  45. Melissa R. on January 4th, 2013 7:06 pm

    Blissful sleep from about 1st grade to high school and then back to it again. I’m sorry. Yes, they sleep in but they also come home VERY late and it’s not like I can sleep in till noon the next day myself. Having kids home on college break at the moment. It is killing me. Why on break for a MONTH? How does this prepare them for real life? Sigh. So tired again. So worried. Mistakes made now are big. Can you tell I’m in the thick of ages 19-23?

  46. Shawna on January 4th, 2013 8:31 pm

    I don’t know if I’ll ever sleep deeply again, but I was never a super-deep sleeper even before kids. I cumulatively got lots of sleep when I co-slept with my newborns, but they each essentially slept in my armpit for the first six months of life and if my husband even angled his body as if he was about to roll towards the baby my hand was there on his back stopping him.

    Even now, when I sleep with them in a big bed when we visit my mom, I just know my 4-year-old is going to roll out of bed so I sleep with one hand on his leg and catch him before he hits the floor.

    And yet, I fall asleep easily and quickly almost all the time (albeit not deeply), so I don’t seem to suffer any ill effects from sleeping in my particular rowboat. The wonders of motherhood…

  47. Karl on January 5th, 2013 7:52 am

    I never had any problems sleeping (except for the youngest’s first 9 months, she napped in the day and fussed all night). My wife would agree with other commenters that it’s not bad when they are in grade school, then gets bad again when they are teens. They are all out of the house now (youngest is 26) and sleep is good.

  48. Marie Green on January 5th, 2013 8:59 am

    My oldest three (twins almost 10, and 6) are pretty sure-bets, unless we have a random puke or something, and I’d say yes, I sleep pretty “regularly” now, and pretty much like I used to. I get way less sleep now than pre-kids, and our days start much earlier (I remember how we had a hard time making 10:30 church, pre-kids, because WE WERE STILL SLEEPING… I cannot recall, even on a no-kid vacation, the last time I slept that late). Have another baby has obviously messed with this, but at least I now know that I’ll sleep again one day.

  49. Olivia on January 5th, 2013 2:58 pm

    Oh dear, this is a rather depressing thread. Mine are 3 (almost 4) and 8 months. Both sleep reasonably well respective of their ages, but my ability to sleep has gone to hell. Of course my husband falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow (or within 5 minutes of starting a movie) and sleeps through everything.* It seriously pisses me off.

    I heard a story on NPR a few months ago about how waking up with babies/small children for years can lead to sleep disorder for years afterward. I wanted to cry when I heard that.

    *I try not to say anything to him because he only averages 5 hrs of sleep a night due to work.

  50. Tina G on January 5th, 2013 9:19 pm

    It gets better.

    Sometimes I think the 14 years spacing between my kids was a smart move, but other times (like with the issue of sleep) it seems kind of like some cruel joke. I suffered through all the crazy sleep stuff all over again after it had already gotten BETTER. Ergh.

    On a side note, I actually met Catherine Newman in 2006 and she made me a cup of tea- in her kitchen! She signed my copy of Waiting for Birdy and it is one of my most treasured books :)

  51. Chaya on January 5th, 2013 11:54 pm

    I asked my in-laws the same question once. They had 6 kids in 12 years, and their answer was “yes, you definitely start sleeping better. When the kids move out.”

    Thanks, in-laws.

  52. Julia on January 7th, 2013 9:45 am

    my kids are 26 and 20. I had a few years there before the oldest was driving that I could sleep soundly. Then he moved out for college and I had a few more before the second son was driving. I sleep fine when they are away. I sleep very little when the 20 year old is home – he is either driving or driving with someone I don’t necessarily trust, or texting me to say he’s staying at a friends because no one can drive. I am not good with a lack of sleep.

  53. Annie on January 8th, 2013 2:31 pm

    My kids are 20, 16 and 13. I’m lucky if they are up before 11am on a weekend with no activities. My two oldest could sleep past noon. They do stay up super late (2am? 3am?). Who knows though? Our bedroom is downstairs and they are all upstairs. I sleep like a baby once again! :)

    There is hope!

  54. Karla J. on January 9th, 2013 11:34 am

    A useful tactic I employed when mine was a teen: Set your alarm clock for the agreed upon curfew. Tell teen that if it goes off, he/she is grounded. Or you can use a different incentive, such as the next curfew is a half-hour earlier, whatever. The idea is that they have to come home and turn off the alarm before it goes off, so you can see/smell them when they come in. No I’m-going-to-be-late calls accepted after 10 p.m. It worked pretty well for us.

    Now when he’s home from college, I just ask that he text me to let me know if he’s not coming home that night.

    Funny thing is that hubs and I have swapped sleeping roles. Now I sleep fine, but he’s up wandering the house at 3 a.m. wondering where the kid is. Karma.

  55. Mandie on January 16th, 2013 10:33 pm

    When my 17-year-old was a baby, he was an awesome sleeper. He slept 12 hours straight at night and never woke before 8 a.m. My now 15-year-old son, not so much. It was not only them, it was just their sounds that would wake me in the middle of the night, coughing, sneezing, rolling over, whatever.

    As they grew older, I was in bed at night for plenty of time, but I would still wake up to their noises.

    Now that they’re 15 and 17, I still wake up to their sounds and also, similar to other parents, don’t sleep when the 17-year-old is out at night and into the wee hours on the weekends. That’s an issue. I now make him come into my bedroom and wake me up so I know he’s home and don’t keep waking up ever hour on the hour.

    As a bonus, I hit perimenopause in my mid 40s, and slowly over the last several years I’ve been dealing with “sleep disturbances.” I seem to waffle between not being able to get to sleep or stay asleep. So, yeah, that sucks.

  56. Naomi in Oz on January 19th, 2013 5:39 pm

    you do learn to sleep again, but just when you get into the habit of it, they turn into teenagers and you stay awake waiting for them to come home (or listening for the tell tale window opening that means they are sneaking out or sneaking someone in)

  57. Mariah on January 21st, 2013 7:46 pm

    Well, sh!t. Looks like I’m doomed. My 1 1/2 year old is a horrible sleeper, always has been. In fact it’s almost 3am and I lie awake after her most recent screaming episode. I don’t know how anyone has a second child?!?

    I’m thinking separate wings for when she’s a teenager. Better start Castle hunting now….

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