14/08/2014 12:55 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Three Into Four: Sleep (Or Lack Of)

Three Into Four: Sleep (Or Lack Thereof)

It's the end of an era: Diana's napping days are over.

You could say I'm struggling with this new development. My husband's view? "You seem like more of a basket-case than usual."

I wish I could pretend the move from naps to no-naps has been straightforward, or at the very least, has improved since D's nap routine started waning back in June. It hasn't.

When your child goes from sleeping one or more hours each day to being awake the entire afternoon - not to mention deciding to wake up much, much earlier - it's not good. For anyone.

Especially if you're not entirely prepared for it. I first started sensing things were bad over the summer when D approached me at 2pm, after a morning full of games and activities and running around (this is the point when she'd usually be passing out from exhaustion) and asked: "What do we do now, Mummy?"

The truth was, I had no idea.

I'd been so lucky with D's sleeping that I took for granted the lovely afternoon moments I'd have where I could sit on the couch and snuggle Bolshy the bulldog (and then Bolshy and Livvie), turn on the TV, or even sit at my computer and do an hour's work. No matter how tired or stressed I'd been before, I would regroup, calm down and be a happier, more energised parent for the afternoon and evening ahead.

Of course, I knew this time was coming. D's growing up, it's normal to sleep less, blah, blah, blah. I just held on to the nap for so long I couldn't envisage my life without it, and when Liv decided she didn't want to nap during the day - ever - I clung onto D's day sleeps all the more desperately.

The tables have turned. Liv, now standing up and having entered the phase of babyhood I like to call "Trying to kill herself at any and every opportunity" (which, while lovely, induces a mild panic attack every few hours - "Is that a leaf she's chewing? No, it's D's bejewelled paper tiara. Eek!"), at least needs to sleep during the day, however erratically.

The truth is, so does her sister - because Diana has decided to start getting up at 5am every day (this is a development that coincided with her move from cot to big girl bed). Sometimes it's 4am. It's hideous.

A particular low point occurred a few weeks ago when I heard Diana chatting to her father in the morning. He leaves at a time of day I usually don't want to be awake at, when it's still pitch black outside, so I knew we were in real trouble now that she realised that getting up at the crack of dawn meant more Daddy time.

Sometimes, D will still crash out in the middle of the day - often after asking me for dinner at 10am because she's been up for five hours already.

Unfortunately, this does not have the desired effect that previous daytime napping did. In fact, D's daytime napping now scares me more than her not sleeping at all. The tantrum that ensues when she wakes up is so horrific that the exhaustion-from-no-sleep-tantrum is preferable any day.

The real disaster is that I seem to have no control over D's sleep anymore and any attempts to change it (Gro clocks, excessive bribery) have fallen on deaf - though very wide awake - ears.

It's unfortunate that my new life as a zombie happens to have become much more hectic than my past life with a toddler who slept. Most days, D runs into our room, wakes me up at whatever crack-of-dawn time it is and insists upon breakfast immediately. Often, Liv is having her first feed of the day with a semi-comatose me and is back in our bed at this point, so she also decides that she'd rather be awake with her sister and partying than asleep.


The mornings when D does quietly play in her room seem better initially, but when I do finally open the door, I regret not having gotten up 30 minutes earlier, when I realise that I am still uncaffeinated and will soon be on my hands and knees, desperately rushing to clean up every sequin, bead and jewel (before Liv starts attempting to consume them; there are close to a hundred) littered all over the bedroom floor from D's Make Your Own Tiara kit.

It's 6:07am.

With both girls awake most of the day and my functionality capabilities rapidly decreasing, things like attempting to make an unburnt dinner, or, more comically, trying to work, are a bit of a struggle.

I regularly find myself offering D baby bottles (yes, Liv drinks formula now! Desperately trying to wean her off the breast...) and find myself slurping baby rice in the mornings instead of my porridge. I have no idea what day of the week it is and regularly miss and forget appointments, despite flashing calendar messages indicating when they're happening. My husband now has four hot pink shirts because I can't manage the washing when I attempt it.

On the plus side, since Liv's daytime sleep is still so unpredictable, I have something to look forward to: Since there's no expectation of nap times, there will be no day two years from now when my world comes crashing down because my entire parenting strategy revolved around keeping the daytime nap going.