Sleepless nights, dark mornings


It’s been a dark start to the year. Summer days feel oh so far away. Now it’s the season of snuffles and sniffles. And apparently the season of sleepless nights (still). For more than six weeks it’s been the same story every night. Whether bedtime is early or late, welcomed or fought against… it makes little difference. Somewhere in the early hours of the morning – most often around 3am – there’s the sound of movement next door. Promptly followed by fierce wails. We’ve inevitably reached that part of the night.

First there’s the request to use the toilet. He staggers out the door and is assisted up onto the throne where I must remember to instruct him to wait, or there will inevitably be a clean-up involved. He totters back to climb into bed. Unless I take too long following – then he’ll be back out to investigate. He throws himself down in the bed and I clamber in beside him. Covers up. Hand held. I repeatedly request that he stop kicking. Stop biting his nails. He repeatedly ignores me.

Hours are spent lying in the darkness. He dozes a little, but wakes within minutes. Legs shuffle about under the covers. Fingers pick and pull at anything in reach. Including me. Exhaustion hangs overhead, but a deep sleep is elusive. The night goes on slowly around us while he thrashes. Nearly, but not quite able to relax and let go of consciousness.

Now that sniffles firmly have him in their grip, there’s the unwelcome addition of doses of medicine. One for fever, one for coughs. A clogged nose that chokes off sleep. A steady river of drool and a child that fails to understand why I’m not in favour of wiping such things all over me.



Finally. Always approximately two hours later, the sound of deep breathing is heard. By now it’s not worth leaving, only to be woken by a working husband getting out of bed. So I roll over and succumb to sleep myself.

Morning comes too soon. The sound of someone rummaging in drawers next door. Running water. The front door slamming and locking. Beside me the sleep thief dreams on contentedly. The penalty for waking him is harsh. So I don’t. Half an hour later he will stir, give me a smack if I have dozed off in the meantime. But most probably will refuse to actually get up yet. Which means I’m not supposed to either. Not supposed to sleep, not supposed to get up. A great way to start the day.

Or, after a particularly snotty night he may turn his head and grab my face to get my full attention. He slowly, clearly and earnestly says, “Puke bucket”. Now that’s guaranteed to get us both out of bed and into the bathroom at top speed. Good morning to you too, son.


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  1. Oh goodness. That’s very tough. You write beautifully about it, but that’s hard. The kicking – what is it with the kicking!
    Would it be worth bringing him to the toilet before you go to bed yourself and he might sleep longer during the night? Sorry if this is useless advice or you’re already doing it… my middle child used to wake every night and then we started bringing her to the toilet at midnight and it worked – she slept better. I hope it passes soon.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment. I don’t know what it is with the kicking. It’s like a crazy version of restless leg syndrome where he just has to keep kicking off of something. When he was a lot younger I used to actually have to hold him still for him to be able to get to sleep at bedtime.

      I considered getting him up for the toilet, but he tends to flip out about being made get up when he’s in deep sleep. He’s not actually waking to use the toilet as far as I can tell. It’s more that if he wakes up enough, he’ll then feel the need to go.

      Hopefully it will pass soon. We’re on our third week of illnesses which is wreaking havoc on both him and me. Most days we’re both passed out on the couch after lunch!

      1. Yes, I was convinced M had restless leg syndrome, even looked into solutions – apparently magnesium is something to counter it. You couldn’t give it to under-twos as M was at the time, but I was breastfeeding so I took the Magnesium. Didn’t do a thing but felt better trying something!

        1. Wow, I thought I was the only one googling these things in the middle of the night! 😉 I’d forgotten about magnesium. Must give it a try once his cough clears up.

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