The number one question I get asked lately is “Are you getting any rest?”
“No,” I always reply, “I am exhausted.”
The asker always gives me a sympathetic smile, “New babies are draining.”
New babies? They have crappy schedules, but they are simple creatures who sleep the majority of the day. New babies alone are a cakewalk. Toddlers, on the other hand, are energy-sapping little humans who sense weakness and can not stand it when you exhibit any sign of weariness.
That whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing that worked so well for me when Annabel was a baby is impossible now that she is a toddler. When James is down, Annabel is:
a) Touching him
b) Trying to touch him
c) Climbing on me
d) Singing loudly
e) Asking for something (usually food)
f) Touching him, again
Annabel hasn’t reliably napped in well over a year. That means when she wakes up in the morning, she’s up until bed time. BED TIME. That’s twelve hours when she’s awake, and usually James is sleeping during ten of those hours. The other day, I offered Annabel a million dollars and a bowl of ice cream if she would lay quietly next to me on the couch for an hour while James and I napped (she declined, but then spent the rest of the day asking me about ice cream).
The thing that makes me the most tired? The early wake-up. Normally Annie sleeps until 8am. Lately, however, if James wakes up to eat between 6am and 8am, Annabel hears him and is up for the day (because the second she can see the tiniest bit of sun outside her window, she thinks the day has started). And when she’s awake, she needs food, play, stimulation, more food, a drink, no not a drink in this cup, a drink in THAT cup. Any hope of catching a few more hours of sleep is dashed.
There is one special location where both children will nap: the car. Of course, since I am driving the car, I can’t take advantage of the dual sleeping.
And as cute as it is to see them both sleeping and holding hands, all I can think is “I WANT TO SLEEP TOOOOOO.”
New babies should come with mandatory rest hours that the entire family must abide by. Also, they should come with chauffeurs so I can take car naps.
You nailed the reason why my daughter is staying in daycare (she’s transitioning to a pre-k 1 classroom this summer) even though I’ll be taking a hiatus from my grad school program for 3 months. She doesn’t sleep from sunup to sundown either. Sometimes during this pregnancy, I’ve had the terrifying experience of dozing off while playing with her (usually when sitting on a couch is involved). It’s only five minutes here and there, but considering the amount of trouble a small child can get into within 5 minutes, I’m pretty grateful that I don’t have to be on constant supervision every day of the week.
Love the sleeping/holding hands pic … they are SO cute!!
Annalisa, I’m so with you!!! Also pregnant with #2 and, though I hate to admit it, but am grateful for the fact she is in daycare (and now in the big girl preschool room!). I give SAHMs TONS of credit because I don’t think I could be “on” the way my daughter’s energy demands are, 24/7. And though I’m zonked from being pregnant, pre-dawn (while they’re all still sleeping) workouts, and a full work day, I know I have 3 hours at the end of the day to give her my all–and that keeps me going. I think even when I am on maternity leave, I’ll still send her to school most of the days for exactly the reasons you mention, Heather–it’s got to be SO hard to be “on” all the time. Babies are the easy ones — who would have thunk!?
Love the picture! So sweet! I remember it being much harder to get sleep with two and mine are six years apart. Wish I had some helpful advice, sleep deprivation is no fun.
Have you thought about Kindergarten/Daycare? I babysit a three year old and an 8 month old twice a week, and Kinder has been an absolute godsend for her parents. It’s three hours, twice or three times a week. She, I think, has a similar personality to Annabel (though perhaps not quite as outgoing) and she LOVES it.
Of course, it’s not for everyone, but might give you some rest!!
My mom says I was the same way…so she put me in my room to rest (I still never slept), but it gave her some alone time that she desperately needed. I still remember sticking my head out the door asking her if her “show was over yet”. Soaps! Good luck. Fortunately for me, my oldest loved to take naps, but having two is pretty much a blur those first few months. It gets easier…
One of my aunts did this with her kids. The older ones had quiet time and they could have anything they wanted on their beds but they couldn’t get off it. She would vary the time depending on what she needed to get done and their plans, but gave her some downtime. I also appreciated it when I was babysitting.
When I taught preschool I had a similar rule with my students. As they got older (I rotated with them starting when they were two), they had to be on their mats during the 75 minutes-ish naptime we had, but they could have books, books on tape, and blank paper and pencils. I know some parents did that on weekends too.
Are you brave? haha. Here’s an idea. If Annie at any time gets crabby or whiny, you can tell her that after lunch, (and hopefully, when James is asleep, too) that everyone is going to do “quiet time”. That means everyone in their rooms except Mommy and Daddy. Then, you can set a timer for an hour or whatever you think will help you get a break. You tell Annie she doesn’t have to sleep but she must keep the door closed and play quietly. I did this with the last two kids and it worked well. Sometimes they even slept. It beat the heck out of the bribery!
My mom did this with my brother and I (we are 13 months apart). Whenever we got to be around 3 and 4 and no longer took naps, my mom had us do “quiet time” after lunch. We could play in our rooms (separately for obvious reasons), watch a movie, sleep, etc. It gave her an hour or so to do the things she needed, and it gave us time to relax and entertain ourselves for awhile. Every child/situation is different but it worked for our SAHM.
We have a mommy’s helper that comes Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 3 hours. It’s a young high school girl, so she doesn’t charge much (especially since I don’t actually leave) but it helps SO much. The kiddos adore her, I can get stuff done and I still get to hear all the laughter and silly playing go on. She started coming over when I had my second- she would take our older son in the backyard to play while I was upstairs nursing the baby and a lot of the times we would both fall asleep. It was great because if there was ever a boo-boo or anything happened, she could come wake me up, but if not I got a couple of hours to nap and my toddler wasn’t just watching tv. Might be worth a shot! Good luck, mama Spohr!!
And you could use one of those nap timers that little kids can read (I keep meaning to get one, I think it’s like a color block that winds down so they can track how much time is left).
I hate to be the one to recommend using tv to watch your kids, but mine will “rest” by getting in her tent and being quiet if I put on a movie. So if I need a nap really badly, I can get out her pop up princess tent, put on Mulan or something, and quietly take a nap.
Hi. I know some people have recommended preschool or daycare and I agree those are great ideas and she seems like she’d LOVE school. Even if you want to wait til the fall, a lot if preschools run summer “camps” for kids. Another option would be to hire a mothers helper or sitter a few times a week. Perhaps a fun college or high school student who could take her out of the house on fun adventures leaving you home to rest with James
OMG!!! (I know you’re exhausted…BUT…) she’s holding his hand as they sleep!!!! That is too darn cute for words!!!
Now as for some rest for you…perhaps it’s time for Miss Annabel to go to preschool a couple mornings a week? The bonus is that in driving her there, James should fall asleep on the way home, making it that much easier to grab him (gently) up from his car seat and into the house for a nice long nap!!!
Bless your tired lil heart! Mwah!
Annie’s extra early wake up reminded me of when my twins were babies and the same thing was happening with my then 2 year old. I gave up one morning and was at Home Depot by about 7:30 ordering a black out shade and then went later that day and got curtains at Pottery Barn with a blackout panel. I also bought this clock and we still use it. It was a lifesaver! Best of luck to you.
Have you ever tried a toddler alarm clock? http://m.target.com/p/ok-to-wake-alarm-clock-and-night-light/-/A-11852371
Maybe you could teach her to at least stay in her room til the light comes on so that you could get a little extra morning rest.
So sweet they sleep holding hands. Hope you get more sleep soon. Maybe your parents could take Annabel one night a week for a sleepover?
Your parents was going to be my suggestion too. Maybe go visit them and you can stretch out while Bampa plays with Annie.
My girls are 19 months apart so I hear you on this one! Now they are 2 and 4 and I have mandatory “rest time” for my oldest every afternoon. She gets a movie and has to go lay down and watch. She has learned that if she gets off the couch during this time for any reason other than blood or fire then she gets no snacks or TV the rest of the day. That is basically the same to her as extreme torture, so she doesn’t test me on that haha. Good luck! (Like others have said I’ve also heard people who did the mother’s helper. I always worried if they came to my house though that my girls would still be looking for me—and I’d feel like I had to clean my house before the helper came over
We also used the timer and got a really funny one my son could put in his room. Told him the baby had to stay in her room for that period too. Half the time he would fall asleep. Also got a loud air purifier from Home Depot that helped muffle the morning noise.
I have this postcard. There are tricks, many of which are mentioned scattered throughout. To summarize:
1. Blackout curtains
2. The cool clock that changes colors when they are allowed to get up
3. Car naps (get them both sleeping, park in the shade, lock the doors, and take your own nap (I think this was my primary source of sleep during the first year – you may want to put up a sign on the window “mom and babies sleeping”, so sadistic “concerned” people don’t come beat on the window).
4.Nap time for Annie. Yes, I know she doesn’t sleep – that doesn’t matter. I tell kids that it’s nap time, and they need to spend two hours in their room. I don’t care if they sleep, or play quietly so I believe they are asleep, but there must be in their room-ness, and quiet. Their rooms are child-proofed, and I used a baby-gate until I was sure my daughter would follow the rules. The downside is that their rooms will be trashed after the nap, but…nap for mom. Worth cleaning the room.
5. Coffee. This won’t last forever.
I’m a preschool supporter, too!
She will love it, and come home super tired, too!
And what car seat is that for James??
Sara, it looks like an Orbit Baby G2.
It’s an Orbit!
Or if you aren’t preschool inclined, maybe you can find a neighborhood tween who could entertain Annabell for a little extra cash.
Whatever you decide I hope you get some rest soon.
I’m sorry! These days are rough. You definitely need more downtime and sleep. For my own survival, I was always somewhat militant about sleep and quiet time with my kids and, honestly, I think it was a really good thing. I did a lot of what people have already mentioned- blackout shades, early bed times, mandatory quiet times after they stopped napping and having a college/grad student come once a week so I could run a few errands by myself. Also, as soon as my kids were in beds (2 years old), I put digital clocks in their rooms and told them they couldn’t get out of bed until the first number was 7 (7:00 AM). Miraculously, they listened. On the rare occasions they didn’t, I just sent them straight back to their rooms. They’re now 8 and 11 and they still have quiet time after lunch (when they’re not in school) and must be quiet in their rooms until a certain hour every morning. I swear it helps keep me sane and is better for all of us. I can tell that you’re an excellent mother and they’re well cared for. Now you’ve got to take care of you! Good luck!
That’s the key. “Militant.” I like how you worded it. I think my kids were good sleepers because I was strict with bedtimes. I didn’t care where they slept, as long as they slept somewhere. They could have slept in the bathtub for all I cared. But, they went to bed at night when I told them it was bedtime, and they didn’t get up early because I did the same thing you did with the clock.
Sweetest picture ever!! I hope you get some rest soon mama
Oh my goodness. I never could have handled my newborn and 3-year old if it weren’t for daycare as others have mentioned. After about a week at home all together, off he went! I had a slight twinge of guilt at first, but that faded pretty quickly. That hand holding picture is the cutest thing ever!
Such a cute pic! I wish I lived closer so I could come play with Annie while you slept (and I hope that’s not too creepy considering we’ve never met, I’m just a blog stalker).
Rachel in ND
Awh……sweet pic. As far as sleeping, oh yah, after the baby #1, mama’s don’t sleep well ever again. =) Mine are grown and ask me how well I sleep. There is always someone to worry about or coming in late or one rides a motorcycle so you know where the head goes, etc… Seriously though, I understand what works for one family may not work at all for the next. I had 5 boys and to keep my sanity and maybe theirs to some extent, we had mandatory quiet time. I say quiet because as you are saying, they all didn’t nap well. So, after lunch or whenever you want it to be we set up a consistent quiet time and I can say I was consistent with it and they learned. We started young =) Quiet time could be video, could be reading, could be even playing quietly in room but the point was I knew where they were and safe. I could either lay with baby or catch up on work around house. Did I sleep sound? No but I must admit I’m sure my eyes closed a few seconds Your kids are beautiful.
The cup thing. So frustrating.
We do the forced rest time, too. When my daughter stopped napping but little brother still napped, everyone had quiet, in-your-room time. They are now 5 and almost 7 and we still enforce “rest time” on weekends or days without school or full-day camp — because the adults still need it and they are so much less crabby later in the day! Start with a short-ish time and gradually lengthen it to an hour or two or whatever time you think is reasonable. We also use the Teach Me Time/Okay to Wake clock to prevent early-morning wake up. We did daily rewards at first to help enforce staying in the room until time was up. Good luck!!!!
Make nap time non negotiable, like taking medicine. There’s no discussion about it. Give her some books and put her in her bed after lunch. Tell her that she doesn’t have to sleep, but she has to stay in there until you get her because it’s quiet time. It will be hard in the beginning because she might fuss, but she will get used to it when she realizes that you aren’t going to give in. My kids were all good sleepers and nappers, but I would have enforced quiet time if they weren’t because I was (and still am) of the belief that kids under 5 need naps. She may even end up falling asleep during quiet time after she gets used to it.
I hear ya. I have no suggestion – just commiseration. Babies are easy, it’s the toddlers that drain you.
Enforcing quiet time by herself in her room could be very helpful.
My only other suggestion is what I do many mornings: Before I go to bed, I put two bowls of dry Cheerios out for my early birds. When they wake up, they come to my room and already have a snack waiting. I turn the TV on for them, and catch another 30 minutes-hour. YES, I’m using the TV as a babysitter. I’m OK with that early in the morning.
Oh LORD – this terrifies me. I’m due in a few weeks (or any day really) with our 2nd and we have a 5 year old son. The whole no sleep thing is my biggest issue/fear about having another child. Hold me.
Oh my! How sweet is it to see them holding hands, while they are sleeping!? Try to cat nap on the couch, or on Annie’s bed, while she plays.
Maybe you should drive to a nice, quiet park and take a nap in the car with them.
Yep seems about right. It sucks but it doesn’t last long. James will be sleeping longer through the night soon enough and you can rejoin the human race. Hahaha!
I remember those days! Now my grown daughters are going through it, and there’s nothing you can say that would comfort like several hours of uninterrupted sleep would.
I saw you on GMA this morning and you look amazing! Annie and James are adorable.
I know exactly how you’re feeling. My youngest 3 were 13 months apart. Now they’re 4,5, and 6. Mandatory “quiet times” after lunch were a MUST for me when they were smaller. I’ve been lax on it the last year, but I think we’re going to get right back to it. I’m a homeschooling, SAHM and some days I feel like I will cry because of never having a “down time”. When you’re on a newborn schedule you really need those few minutes here and there. Good luck and hopefully sweet dreams
Sounds like Annie is old enough for a “Siesta!” Essentially it’s Quiet Time, Rest Time, Mommy’s Break Time, etc., only with a FUN name that isn’t “Nap” time. One hour each day where she gets to do any activity in her room as long as it’s quiet and she stays on her bed. She can have dolls, books, or other toys that don’t make noise to keep her occupied. After she gets used to the idea, she might atually start falling asleep and give you more than the hour to get a little rest.
Or she could be like me as a kid, and make a ruckus in her room every single time. I’m not saying it to scare Heather, but to point out that toddlers have a hard time grasping quiet time in a home environment. My daughter is the same way.
The three days she’s at daycare, she will lay quietly on her cot after a couple of warning from her teachers that her friends are trying to sleep. At home with me? Forget it. Mommy doesn’t need the sleep. She’d make so much ruckus and make so many requests (‘I’m hot’, ‘I’m cold’, ‘I ran out of water’, ‘I’m bored with the mountain of books you gave me and I want the one you forgot to give me’,) that I’ve just given up on quiet time, because I still had to get up off my bed to shush her/help with something every two minutes, and it made me even crankier than just resigning myself to walking to the park with her instead.
Annie sounds very similar: bright, quick, and strong willed. You gotta love that (I know I do), but it does come with a set of unique challenges.
Jennifer Dawn says:
Sounds like us! My daughter stopped napping around 2 1/2 and hasn’t looked back. And now that the sun is up earlier, so is she. So she is generally up from 7am to 8pm every day. When my son was a newborn, this was extremely exhausting and difficult. I never ONCE got them to sleep at the same time during the day.
Luckily, they both at least sleep through the night, so while my naps are a thing of the past, at least I get a full night’s sleep!
Oh, I hear you. My twins and my baby are 19 mos apart. I literally felt ill from the lack of sleep when the new baby came. 1 newborn is eaaaasy. Newborn + toddlers = OMG. I too learned a little later to enforce some afternoon quiet time. The toddler clock is next on my list for my little rooster.
I think all moms walk around chronically exhausted, but we just think we are the only ones till we get to talking to them.
Even if it’s just for a few hours in the morning, she’ll come home completely exhausted! I’m sure there are little preschool day camps in your area! Added bonus to camp–this will help her with the transition of school in the fall.
I am in almost the same position you are — my daughter is 3 and I have a 6-month-old boy. The baby is *easy* compared to my daughter. He stays in the same place when you put him down (at least for now), sits there and smiles, and naps peacefully (sometimes). My daughter, on the other hand, loves him to the extent that it’s dangerous — you can’t leave her in the same room with him alone, even to go to the bathroom, because she will try to pick him up, drag him by the feet across the floor, turn him over, put a blanket over his head, etc. (yes, all of these things have happened). Finally, I looked into preschool programs — I found a great young 3’s program and signed her up. Two hours of sweet bliss, two days per week. This summer, I have her in a camp for 3 & 4-year-olds…. it is only two hours per day, but it allows me to come home and nurse in peace, make phone calls, etc. You could also consider hiring a high school or college student for a few hours a day — even if it’s just once or twice a week — for a much-needed nap!
I have to say, my son just turned 6 months and I feel like that was a major turning point for us. He went from staying up late and waking up a couple times during the night to nurse to finally sleeping a 10 to 12-hour stretch with just one feeding in the middle. I feel like a transformed woman.
The first year is hard, but it goes by so fast. It’s so much fun to watch my daughter make my son smile and laugh, and I’m sure Annie will be an endless source of amusement for little James!
Quiet time absolutely. After my daughter gave up naps, well then she got to have quiet time in her room, for an hour or so. She could read, play games, whatever. She just had to stay in her room and not talk to me until quiet time was over. It’s not mean, it’s good for everyone!
Could you put a fan or white noise machine in Annie’s room to maybe drown out the noise of James waking up early in the morning so she might sleep through it? We do that in our 3-yr-old’s room and she sleeps through noises well. We have this one in her room and ours as well:
I can feel what you are actually feeling. You gave all your attention to Annie until James was born and now Annie is demanding your attention (which is very normal) and you feel bad about not giving her the enough time but at the same time you are exhausted so you feel angry but later on you feel guilty about that. As such a dedicated and kind mom you have been with your children that is fairly normal for you to have all those feelings. It’s also important to take little bit of rest so you are not irritated with anybody and you don’t have to feel guilty alter on. Is it too late to put Annie for daycare/program for only couple of hours? I know you don’t want to leave Annie for a long time. Annie got so much attention from you it’s hard for her also to stay quietly in her room. So daycare or babysitter for couple of hours would be good so you know Annie is with someone and having fun and not staying alone on her own. Take care.
Tighten the straps on that babies car seat!! Make sure they are AT or below his shoulders
Thanks your your concern! The straps are correctly placed and as tight as possible, as verified by the certified car seat tech we took the seats to three weeks ago.
Expat Mom says:
My older kids are 6 and 7 and the little one is 16 months. He still naps most days, but it’s rare that his nap is NOT cut short by a screaming brother. It would be so nice to nap with the baby, but yeah, you don’t get that luxury anymore . . . but it does get better! Eventually they’ll both sleep through the night and wake you up early. You have to go to bed early, but it’s mostly worth it.
I have 3 kids, ages 8, 5, and almost 3. The year my youngest was born was the hardest. My oldest wasn’t yet in school yet. I methodically worked out the younger two’s schedule so that the baby would sleep at the same time as the toddler. And then I would make my oldest lay in bed with me and watch TV while I slept. I can’t tell you HOW MANY TIMES I would just have fallen asleep and he would laugh at the TV, or the baby would cry for her nuk that had fallen out. I wanted to cry from exhaustion so many times.
Now my oldest is in school, and while my youngest naps the older one gets to watch a movie or play on the IPAD. I don’t always nap, but I get to read a book or just sit down by myself. I know my solution involves the TV as “a babysitter”, but sometimes my sanity means more than being a perfect mom 24/7.
Oh my gosh, that picture is amazing!
Man, the mornings were the worst for us. Because I’d be nursing and exhausted and trapped under the baby and my daughter would want to be IN MY FACE and talking to me and touching the baby and poking him in the head and my husband was so deeply asleep that he couldn’t hear any of it and all I wanted to do was go crawl in a hole in the yard. Thankfully, at three months the baby is sleeping through the night, and the toddler is sleeping until 7ish or later most days again.
I used to drive my oldest around until she fell asleep (it was the only place she’d nap for a whole summer), then drive home, park, and read a magazine, rest my eyes, etc. until she woke up. Saved my sanity.
My 3 yr old is the same. She tells me, “Mom, get up…the Sun is AWAKE!!!” And it’s 630. I think I need to get her the blackout blinds so I can sleep a little longer.