How Not To Sleep

I could use some sleep.

My older two boys were wonderful sleepers until they both turned four-months-old at which point their sleeping patterns deteriorated until they were waking up every hour or two by the time they were nine-months-old. Logan’s sleep patterns were reversed. He started off as a terrible sleeper, and I was terrified that he would only get worse as he got older, like was the trend with my other children. And then, one night when we were on vacation in early August, our seven-month-old terrible sleeper just slept through the night. He did the same thing the following night. We were on vacation and his bedtime routine was different and he didn’t get consistent naps and we were always with other people so his environment was noisier, yet still he slept. Until this point, we had NEVER had a child sleep through the night on his own. Sometimes we’d get a full-night’s sleep as a fluke, but we have never had a baby just start sleeping, no matter how many other parents told us that it would happen.

Sleep Tactics |

Ever since, Logan has gone through waves of maintaining a streak of good nights (which I define as sleeping the whole time that I sleep) and absolutely horrible sleeping (which means waking up twice or three times and/or refusing to go back to bed. “Horrible nights” always also include at least one, but usually more wake-ups from the bigger boys as well: a bedwetting incident, bad dream, or a request to open their bedroom door after getting up out of bed, opening the door, and coming to ask me to open the door.) Earlier this month* we seemed to be in a horrible sleeping phase, which included four or five wake-ups between all three children throughout the course of one night. The baby’s first wakeup happened at the very moment when I fell asleep (how do they know?!) and he refused to go back to bed. Mere hours later, the big kids decided to party an hour before I was planning to wake up. (Damn you, time-change!) (You can be assured that after this night, I pulled out the sleep-clock again, which is my absolute favourite tool for influencing a child’s sleep habits).

My husband does not manage well on so little sleep. He will be the first to admit that. You know that the nights are bad when he has returned to the guest room to get some rest, just like during the first seven months of our baby’s life. I used to get frustrated when my husband insisted that he get all the sleep he needed while I was the one jumping at every noise from every child, but then I realized that Over-Tired-Grumpy-Dan was way worse than not having a helper in the middle of the night. Over-Tired-Grumpy-Dan was here on the day following That Horrible Night and so he slept in the guest room in the basement the following night. Because Dan’s sleep is a priority for the whole family.

Meanwhile, I was running on empty. I get up when the baby cries, feed him milk, put him back to bed, get up when a bed needs changing or a door needs opening or a dream needs chasing away. I get up over and over during the hour before my alarm rings because my big kids just won’t shut up. Then, finally and horrifyingly, I get up for the day. If I’m really honest with myself, it is Over-Tired-Grumpy-Laura who finally gets out of bed after nights like that.

This is the point where I could say “If you don’t have kids yet, sleep when you can”, but I won’t because no matter how much sleep you got before having kids, having kids is simply exhausting and there’s nothing you can do about it but guzzle coffee all day until beginning the next overnight battle.

Sleep Tactics |

The nice thing is that bedtime is rarely our issue. Logan practically begs to go to bed at 7pm. The kids don’t fight bedtime, but sometimes we do take a quick break between Everything That Happened Today and Bedtime and allow them stay up a bit later for our own exhausted sake. The boys don’t beg for five more minutes, but we often tell them to just go downstairs and watch a show so that we can have a bit of quiet before the craziness of bedtime starts. (And of course, if things get too crazy, Logan wakes up, much less keen to go to bed the second time.)

Netflix has shows for parents who have bedtime struggles, no matter what they are. For kids who fight bedtime, Netflix now has released Dinotrux 5 Minute Favorites so you can “let” the kids watch “one more show” and still be in control of bedtime, because it is only five minutes long. Of course, there are also the full length shows for parents like me who just need the big kids to be quiet while the baby goes to bed. Although, sometimes, I can’t even coax them with a show. The other night we told Gavin to go play and he said “No. I want to go to bed.” Geeze, kid. Three really makes you quite the contrarian, doesn’t it?

Sleep Tactics |

Despite being quite the poster mother for getting good night sleeps (not!), I have written some suggestions for how to help children create good sleep habit and routines. And, if it makes you feel any better, the boys have slept through the night until they were supposed to wake up for the last number of nights. It is just me who has gone to bed far too late, so I’m still exhausted, because I’m a masochist.

Here’s a printable sleep chart to help children feel responsible for getting themselves ready for bed.

Here is where I tell you about my absolutely favourite tool to keep kids in bed and sleeping for the whole night. It is sponsored, but honestly at this point I don’t care what brand you use. I’ve used a few. The product itself is an amazing tool, regardless of the brand.

And here are some good things to remember when you’re up late at night with a baby who just keeps waking up.

*I don’t know whether I’ll jinx myself by writing about how horrible our nights have been this month when the past couple of nights have been great or if writing this caveat is actually what will jinx me.


I am a member of Netflix’s Stream Team and as such I have been compensated with a complementary Netflix subscription and a few other perks and goodies. Like the treats we ate during our movie date. The stories and opinions are all my own and have not been influenced.

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Day 21

Writing has become a chore. This whole “write every day” thing is a wonderful idea, and I know it is important for me as a writer to exercise this thing that I say I do. In theory, I want to write daily. I do love writing. But in practice I find myself coming to the end of each day without writing yet, and I sit with my iPad in my bed while my eyes start to close and my fingers try to type while my brain starts drifting away. The sentences become nonsensical, and I just stare at the word-count and dread losing a day of this streak (today is Day 21).

Writing Every Day |

I think I might have cheated.

I have written every day, but I cannot say that I have written more than a sentence or two. Some days, that’s all I can muster before I absolutely crash. I write using The site doesn’t count the day as completed unless there are 750 words written. And so, many of my words are just a simple phrase that says something to the effect of “I am too tired to keep writing and this stupid app needs 750 words” copy and pasted over and over until my word count is reached. One day, though mostly closed eyes, I managed to get myself over to Wikipedia to copy and paste a paragraph about who knows what. I was amazed at how incredibly hard and confusing getting myself to Wikipedia and copying and pasting a paragraph was. That is how tired I get at this point of my day.

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I love the act of writing each day, though. It helps me explore those ideas that I keep meaning to get to. All of those times that I tell myself that I really need to write about a certain topic, I am now able to when I’m writing consistently. And then, there are times when writing is good just for recording what happened each day. Sometimes when I get too wrapped up in writing for blogging sake, I lose the personal aspect of it and miss recording the things that make each day special. (Today we set up the half-size artificial Christmas tree downstairs. We missed the local Santa Claus parade because it was raining and Dan was working this afternoon and I couldn’t wrap my head around taking two children and a baby downtown to sit in the cold for at least an hour while we waited for the parade to actually start. Since our cable provider didn’t carry the parade, we watched the Toronto Santa Claus Parade on demand. I was determined to watch a parade! We cleaned up the basement a bit, rearranged furniture, and set up the mini Christmas tree, with everyone except Logan helping to fluff out the branches. I got the colourful lights and ribbon on and then the boys decorated it, all while being incredibly grumpy with one another. Logan found it exciting. His first ever taste of Christmas happened today.)

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For me personally, I think that writing is also an outlet. It is my therapy. Anytime I question my mental health, I consider the options my doctor will likely offer me: Therapy first. If that doesn’t help, then we can try meds. I’ve been in that place before, with those options in front of me. But I can’t get to a place where I can honestly talk about things with a therapist and have it make much of a difference. I have tried. I can’t break down that wall that has me keeping up appearance when I’m face to face. But I do let myself express what is going on through the written word. I work through my emotions through writing. The other day I wrote about a new development in my life that I knew was the worst and that I hated and was incredibly sad about, but I couldn’t really feel it until I sat down to write it. Writing allowed the tears to come. It allowed me to grieve.

Tonight I’m trying to finish editing photos for one client. I still have two other clients to finish (and I think I owe my sister some family photos too!) I have someone to message back about a Jamberry order. There is laundry in the washing machine that needs to be moved to the dryer (the dryer has already been emptied and folded by me earlier in the day at least). It is ten minutes to midnight and I wanted to do my nails before going to bed, but I need to have these photos done before I go to bed too. Still, I took a break, made some tea, and decided to write. I can’t let the streak die. And I certainly won’t be able to write when I finish everything and go to bed.

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It is hard to know where writing fits in on my priority list when my priority list is so long and disjointed. I have house priorities and family priorities and personal priorities and photography priorities and blogging priorities and my direct sales business priorities and design priorities and soon enough editing priorities. Some days they’re all just as urgent as any other thing. Even if I took the most urgent from each category, it couldn’t all be done in a day.

I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up the every day writing thing when November is over, simply because my need for self-preservation will take over. But I wish I would keep the streak alive. The benefits of writing outweighs the exhaustion. It is one of those things that takes time but results in more benefits than is expected.

Speaking of things that I haven’t taken the time for lately, but are really beneficial, I really need to get back to running… I’ll just go add that to the list too…

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Connecting: How a Toy Brought Me Closer to my Son

Last Christmas, Gavin – my then 2, almost 3-year-old, found a LEGO Duplo Batman set under the tree with his name on it. When it was time to open the box and play with his new toy, I noticed that Gavin’s older brother Cameron, 4-years-old at the time, was eager to help. So, I handed him the instructions and tasked him with building the LEGO set for his little brother. By himself.

Connecting with children using Lego | Mommy Miracles

I had very little experience with LEGO as a child, but as I gave birth to one, then two, then three boys, I realized that at some point while mothering these children, I would need to figure out these building blocks. As a child, I would watch other children put together LEGO with such skill and craftsmanship and I would feel like I could only make a boring tower in comparison. As such, relating to my boys was a very real (though unfounded) concern of mine, and thinking about having to build LEGO with them was just another proof that I would probably be a terrible mother.

That day as Cameron followed the instructions to build his brother’s LEGO Duplo set, I was just so proud. I saw a side of my son that I hadn’t seen before. I knew he was bright, but there he was, following directions, problem solving, helping his brother, and finding joy in creating something. It was as if I was watching his mind working right in front of me and I couldn’t look away.

Connecting with children using Lego | Mommy Miracles

This meticulous creativity thing Cameron has going on is something that I can relate to. My husband can’t bake to save his life because he can’t (won’t?) follow a recipe. He rushes through steps and doesn’t measure and is quick to substitute. But I double check recipes. I spend hours before publishing a blog post to make sure that the photos are edited and placed perfectly. I do things slowly in an attempt to do things right. And I think I do things slowly and carefully because I really just love the process of creating.

Cameron’s new teacher asked us to fill out a questionnaire about his learning habits. I admitted that Cameron will take the lazy path if that one is available to him. While he can write “Cameron” he will sign his name “Cam” and it isn’t because he has a preference about what he likes to be called. But when something has an attainable outcome, Cameron will try to do it right and do it best. As we’re practicing his sight-words right now, he tries so hard to read them because he recognizes it as an accomplishment. With the LEGO instructions, he knows that there is a cool finished product that is doable and in reach. So he does it.

Connecting with children using Lego | Mommy Miracles

Parenthood has made me realize that there is a whole world of education that doesn’t happen in a workbook or a classroom. My husband has recently started playing a card game with Cameron that Cam sees as purely fun. But, while playing, Cameron has to do math, adding and subtracting and counting by 10s. By playing with his son, my husband finds so much joy in not only the time spent together and experiencing Cameron’s excitement, but also in watching our oldest boy think and learn.

Connecting with children using Lego | Mommy Miracles

Dan and Cameron might have the card game, but Cameron and I have LEGO. I don’t need to have experience building intricate Lego scenes to be involved in this part of my son’s life. My own meticulous creativity gives me the patience to sit and work through the instructions with Cameron, especially as he begins building sets that are a bit harder, like the LEGO Juniors. And actually, I’m realizing that I don’t need to sit and do LEGO with Cameron to experience this part of mothering him. Now that Cameron can take ownership of each LEGO set, I am left to feel the joy that comes in watching my two older boys, now 5 and 3, working together to build and play with their LEGO sets together. This is the fun part.

This post has been brought to you in thanks to the generosity of JimJam Communications. As always, all opinions expressed are my own and I’m thrilled to share with you why Lego is such a big part of my kids’ childhood.

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