By Jen Parrish
Smarties, have you ever had one of those “a-ha” parenting moments where you want to hit yourself over the head for not figuring a problem out sooner or not paying attention to those Parenting 101 books? I had one of those recently.
Our 3 year old son has always been our rock star sleeper. Our 9 pound 7 ouncer came home from the hospital sleeping 4 hour stretches and he never exited the “honeymoon” stage. At 1 month old, he was going 6 hours and by 2 months, a respectable 8 hours. I know, I know. You people want to hurt me. Payback is a beeotch and we got it with our 5 year old daughter. She didn’t sleep through the night until 6 months. So there. Anyway, I digress.
Imagine my horror when a couple of months ago my 3 year old rock star started waking up in the middle of the night. I’m not talking about the “wake up, come get in mommy and daddy’s bed and go back to sleep” wake up. I mean waking up and STAYING up. On the worst nights, he would wake up at 1AM and stay up until morning. We tried everything we could think of – letting him read books, laying in his bed with him, even giving up and finally turning on the TV so we could get some sleep. This went on for a couple of months. We dreaded night time. We were walking zombies. It was payback for all those easy baby nights, but WORSE because you don’t expect it at age 3!!!
I started googling “child insomnia” and anything else I could think of. Most of the articles had to do with older kids who were stressed out about school. I was pretty sure finger-painting, playing on the playground and living it up in daycare was not the culprit. Nor were there any significant changes going on in our lives. I did agree that he wasn’t needing the 2 hour nap that he still gets in daycare (that’s a topic for another day), but I didn’t think that was causing the middle of the night wake up. Then one night, I had an epiphany.
My little rock star has recently become obsessed with superheroes. FANATICAL. His daddy loves that Batman, Spiderman, Superman and all of their superhero friends are now regulars in our household. Dad decided to buy some classic old superhero DVDs. Not Nick Jr. superheroes…the REAL thing. Because of course, Dad wanted to enjoy them too! And my little guy has been watching them nonstop. We were letting him watch one show right before his book and bedtime. And while he was not having nightmares, I began to wonder if the activity level of those shows was a little much for him. So the next night – no superhero show. And guess what? He slept through the night. Now, we only let him watch one show a day and it has to be in the morning or midday. Since this change, he hasn’t woken up one time.
So, problem solved. And yes, I felt VERY dumb. Haven’t we all read that TV in general (and especially active superhero shows!) can be a lot for a little one’s brain? I wanted to hit myself over the head. But I didn’t. Instead I gave myself a break, poured a glass of wine and congratulated myself on my Super Mom deduction skills.
Smarties, have you experienced sleep issues with your older kids?
I have a 3 1/2 year old boy and we are living this EXACT same story in our house. Goodbye superheros from the 70s and 80s, and welcome back Nick Jr. and Disney Jr.
We too had a “rock star” sleeper baby and when we moved overseas when he was 15 months old, he quit sleeping for more than 4 hours a stretch. We thought it was an adjustment at first but after 8 months – he was still waking up every 4 hours – and we were both working full time. Total and utter nightmare. Right before we moved back home when my husband had resigned from his job and was not working at night any longer, he started sleeping again. I truly think that even though we both put him to bed before my husband would leave for work – something in his little mind would know that his Pappa was not in the house and he would wake up. He FINALLY started sleeping better but since we have moved back to the US, he is logging a solid 9-10 hours. Making up for lost time I suppose. Thanks for sharing!!