My kids won't sleep, and I'm out of ideas

What do you when you've tried every kids' sleep trick in the book? Katie Dupuis is at her wit's end.

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Sophie and Juliette have had some trouble getting to sleep at night. Photo: Katie Dupuis

On Saturday morning, I woke up in my bed with my littlest one, Juliette, snuggled up in the crook of my arm, sleeping sweetly. On Monday morning, I woke up in Sophie’s bed, with her feet in my face and the comforter on the floor. This morning, I woke up alone, in my bed but with Sophie’s Hello Kitty pillow, when my husband Blaine came in to tell me I slept through my alarm.

I’m at odds with myself over sleep: The Type A, disciplined part of me wants to insist that everyone should sleep in their own beds, that there is no deviation from the bedtime routine, and that failure to comply will result in no treats, ever. (I would have been a really good drill sergeant in another life.) But the other part of me just wants them to sleep, however and wherever that happens. I don’t know if it’s an act of desperation now that I’m back at work and don’t want to function in a sleep-deprived haze—in the month since I returned, I’ve taken the subway in the wrong direction twice, not even noticing until multiple stops have passed—or if I honestly don’t mind when Sophie crawls into our bed at night or Juliette needs an extra cuddle to go back to sleep. I’m sure the sleep experts would say that’s a dangerous road to head down, and I get that. But I’m at a crossroads.

As a tiny toddler, Sophie was an amazing sleeper. When she was in her crib, she was a dream. But at this time last year, when I was five months pregnant with Juliette and Sophie was two-and-a-half, we started to transition her to the “big girl bed.” Our fantastic little snoozer suddenly turned into a holy terror at bedtime, getting up between 10 and 20 times before finally settling in, and then coming into our room in the middle of the night saying she was lonely (thirsty, scared and “but I just love you” all entered the conversation, too). Since then, we’ve tried sticker charts, consequences in the moment, consequences the next day, a stern attitude, a softer but matter-of-fact approach, and, I’m sorry to say it, even yelling when pushed to our limits. Nothing fazes this kid. She still gets out of bed multiple times a night. And when she finally realizes we mean business: oh, the tears. So many tears. Which then wakes Juliette, who is currently a marginally better sleeper than her older sister.

It’s a cycle, and Blaine and I can’t figure out how to break it. I’d like to sleep in the same bed as my husband in some consistent manner, and I’d like to actually get a solid chunk of sleep each night without being woken by a tiny person hovering over me, asking to get under my covers. (It’s also really creepy to wake up to someone staring at you, for the record.) But I also want the kids to know they can come to us when they need us, if they have a bad dream or don’t feel well.

I don’t know why, but this feels like a secret shame. This blog is called Type A Baby, for crying out loud, and I’ve been in charge of process and deadlines at some of Canada’s biggest magazines. And yet we do this bedtime dance every night. I should be firm. I should have a plan and a deadline for getting these kids to sleep. But I just don’t. I’m out of ideas. And I’m really friggin’ tired.

Walmart Live Better editor-in-chief Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, imagine this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie, Juliette and husband Blaine. Read all of Katie’s Type A Baby posts and follow her on Twitter@katie_dupuis.

Looking for more tips on getting your little one to sleep through the night? Check out this video:

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