10,000 steps a day - the optimum amount of steps every person should walk a day to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.
It is also the number of steps I do nightly walking up and down the stairs trying to get my kids to stay in their beds. How lovely to have someone read to you, massage & cuddle you every night with goodnight kisses and warm blankets tucked snuggly around little bodies? What I would give for someone to do that to me - I long for my bed the minute I wake up in the morning but know all too well that the reality of snuggling up in my own bed undisturbed for the night is a very, very long way away.
I can deal with the usual few request made on that first wake up, but it’s the waking with a small child breathing over me at 2:30 in the morning like something out of a horror film that really irks me. I just can’t understand it. Why in the world would you drag your tired, and warm body out of a comfortable bed just to make sure mammy and daddy were sleeping? “It’s a phase,” my mother tells me, “sure, you were never a good sleeper”. Cheers Mam, but that really doesn't help, I’d much rather someone said xyz will make them sleep.
Although I’m not being very fair here, I have three children, all girls, two of which are actually ok at sleeping. It’s the eldest that simply can’t seem to settle herself, you'd think it would be the one-year-old. I’m to blame of course. I simply couldn't put her down to sleep when she was tiny. I wanted to spend every waking moment with her, breathe in her newness for as long as possible. Hold her a little longer than I should have every night, allowing her to drift off in my arms. I made a rod for my own back, plain and simple.
My philosophy on parenting is you can never spoil them with love. Pick them up if they cry, wipe away their tears and hold their upset bodies until they are calm again, crying it out was not something I was prepared to do. Until now! The difference is that it is my tears now! Every night I drag my tired ass up and down the stairs and in and out of her room reassuring her that “Yes, mammy and daddy are in bed, no there are no monsters under her bed, yes, you can wear your JoJo bow in the morning, IF YOU SLEEP ALL NIGHT.” Don't get me wrong, I’ve tried everything to get her to sleep or at least stay in her bed. Reinforcer schedules, bribes, soothing, shouting the lot but nothing, as of yet, has worked. And maybe nothing will, maybe as the eldest she will always just need that little extra reassurance at night.
It’s not her fault she became a big sister at the tender age of one and mammy's reassuring arms, which she fell asleep in every night, were busy holding her new little sister. She also has the hearing capabilities of a bat and will wake at the sound of grass growing (something which even the noise machine in her room seems unable to drown out) all again a consequence of first baby noiseless house syndrome. I suppose the question is would I do it differently if I could? Would I lay her down to self-settle like I did with her other two sisters? Would I leave her to cry it out a little longer rather than rush in at the first whimper? Would I leave her nap in her crib instead of snuggled in my arms for those long afternoon naps? Not a chance, she was my first for such a short period of time, time I will never get back with her and I’m so glad I spent it with her as I did. These days I’m lucky to get a quick snuggle on the couch in the evening with her. Life has become so busy with 3 under 5, it seems I need to take night-time wakings one step at a time.
We all muddle through.