The Curse of the Tired Child

shutterstock_152598140At the moment my 5 year old looks pale, distracted and his eyes are slightly glazed. Is he coming down with some horrible bug? No, he’s tired, really tired. In fact he is exhausted. Despite having a good night’s sleep most nights, going back to school after the summer holidays has completely wiped him out. I’m sure that being one of the youngest in his year plays a big part in his tiredness and I’m already counting down the days until half term when he can wind down and catch up. Let’s face it, tired children can be a nightmare.

Both of my boys are dreadful when they’re tired. My beautiful, smart, happy 5 year old gets grumpy, completely stops listening to me and develops an attitude worthy of a sulky teen. He becomes a totally different child. E, at 17 months, is a bit more obvious and his tired tantrums are at least predictable, if no less taxing. He trips over, screams and cries and sucks on his thumb ferociously for comfort. If they’re both really tired then it makes for a very stressful couple of hours before bed time.

When L was first born I had no idea how difficult it would be to get him to go to sleep. I thought babies just drifted sweetly off to sleep when they got tired. This wasn’t the case with L, he used to fight sleep all day long. I tried desperately to rock him and sing him to sleep before he turned into a screaming, overtired mess. We had lots of quiet time trying to wind down before naps and eventually, when he was 10 months old, even resorted to a short spell of the ever controversial ‘cry it out’ technique. L cried a lot when he was very small and now I realise much of it was because he wasn’t getting enough sleep and the poor little monkey was exhausted. As soon as he started napping properly in the day time he was a much happier child and I was a much happier Mummy.

When E was born I was determined he’d sleep better than his big brother and became an expert at spotting his tired signs and getting him into bed as quickly as possible. As a result he always napped really well and I got some much needed time to myself. Unfortunately it still took him a long, long time to sleep through the night!

I’m a big believer in ‘sleep breeding sleep’, the more they have the better they sleep. If my boys have a late night it’s very rare that they sleep late the next morning to catch up. They still bounce out of bed at 7am (if I’m lucky) raring to go. So I try to get them into bed at pretty much the same time every night, whether it’s a week day or the weekend, to make sure they get enough sleep and to minimise the amount of melt downs I have to deal with.

With three and a half weeks left until half term I know I’m going to be greeted with quite a few more sullen looks across the dinner table, I’m going to have to ask L at least three times to get himself dressed in the morning and I’m going to have to get used to his pale little face staring back at me. So, roll on half term when I get my wide awake, pink cheeked little boy back. And I know that the way the months and years are flying past, in no time at all I’ll be blogging about having to drag lazy teenagers out of bed in the mornings.

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