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Sleep issues are a strain on any household, not just that of a sometimes single mom. Whether it's teething, a development-related sleep regression, or something completely unexplainable by anything but just a bad sleeper, dealing with kids that aren't sleeping can be one whopping pain the butt.
But when you're dealing with them mostly alone, it really adds in a whole set of complicating factors.
For the last few weeks, my youngest daughter Margot, by far my best sleeper out of all my kids, hit the dreaded 18- to 22-month sleep regression, along with a big whopping bout of separation anxiety. On one hand, it's exciting to hear so many words flowing out of her, especially since she's been pretty silent for a very long time. And I know that I will, at some point, miss her crying for me and only me almost every second of the day when I'm home.
But I haven't seen my own bed or a full night's sleep in over a month now.
Add in a 3.5-year-old who we moved back to his own room and is now visiting us on a tri-nightly basis (again), and the prospect of a newborn who will be waking up every couple of hours to eat and poop, and well, it's become full blown anxiety on my part.
When my husband is home, he's able to run interference -- offer me a break from putting the kids down for a nap and bedtime, and getting up in the middle of the night to deal with our son so that I can attempt to get some sleep with the littlest one in bed with me.
But when he's gone, I don't feel like I'm getting any sleep at all. And I also don't feel as though I'm getting any breaks from being near the kids since I've got one in the bed with me all night long.
Sometimes I wonder in these cases if it would be easier to either have both parents or one parent all the time. Because sleep training thrives most on consistency. But when you've got a spouse who's in and out of the house on an irregular basis, it really makes any sort of system quite difficult.
I mentioned my complete dread of what's to come when the new baby is added to this mix and my husband said, "Well, I can sleep with Margot while you sleep with the new baby ..." -- something I've done with each of the kids as newborns that has worked quite well for us. And while she does put up a fuss when it's not me in the bed, she does settle down back to sleep, though it can be pretty disrupting to the person she's sleeping with.
And then I reminded him, "Well, what am I supposed to do when you're gone?"
He sighed as if he had completely forgotten about that. Funny how that goes.
From everything I've read, there's really little to do about sleep training at this point. With so much development and anxiety going on (plus molars just for fun), it's probably more work than it's worth to attempt something like that, especially with a new baby coming in two weeks which will, no doubt, have another effect on their sleep habits and behavior.
But I wish there was something I could do to ease my worry about how all this is going to play out. And oh how much I would pay for a few full nights of uninterrupted sleep right about now.
Maybe this is just the universe's way of making me newborn ready. Or perhaps I just have really bad karma.
So if you're a sometimes single mom, how do you deal with sleep woes?
Photo from Flickr/alittlething