I groggily reach for my phone to check the time. It's 5:13am. My kids aren't awake yet (surprise, surprise), but my dog is in his crate directly beside me and he's starting to whine. If I let him out, I'm sure he'll run down the hallway and his nails could quite possibly wake the kids. So, I get up, let him out, and carry him down the hall as quietly as possible. It's raining outside, so immediately after I let him out, he wants back in. I make him stay outside for a few minutes so he can pee if he needs to. When he comes back in, I take him back to the crate where he wines a couple of times before giving up the fight. As I get back in bed, it creaks loudly and I hear a rustle from my daughter's room. My oldest is sleeping in the bed beside me since Daddy worked the night shift, so I'm hearing the younger one in the other room. My body tenses and my breathing is slow and quiet. Without even noticing, my entire being is trying to make as little noise as possible in every effort to avoid my children waking up.
It's the same routine every morning. I hear the kids rustling before it's even 6:00am and I can't help but want to cry. Putting them to bed early, tucking them in late, getting naps or avoiding naps... none of it seems to keep them in bed later than 6:00am every morning. I'm trying to do my best to just "go with it." If my kids are early-risers, then I need to be an early-riser too. Hell, maybe I can even get up at 5:00am to beat them to the day. But, when it comes down to it, it's not that I'm annoyed at the time that they get up. I'm annoyed at the fact that I don't feel like I know how to help them sleep.
My oldest has many days where she seems more emotional than normal. She's a very emotional kid, but I'm talking about the times where she is so obviously tired that she can't help but break out in tears at the slightest disappointment. She will be 4 later this month and stopped taking naps two years ago... even though she wakes several times at night, falls asleep in the car on short trips around town, and passes out for a nap a couple of days a week. She just seems like she's not getting enough sleep as it is. And my youngest? She is 27 months and has started giving up her nap a couple of days a week. I can't help but think the end of nap-time is near. And when my girls get up at 6:00am, but don't go to bed until 8:00/8:30pm every night, it makes for a very long day - both for them AND me. I can't get them to nap predictably, and bedtime doesn't seem to have an effect on the length of time they sleep. Sleep is vital to the health of our entire family and I worry that my kids (and myself!) aren't getting enough.
I just keep waiting for the day that this phase is put behind us... but I've been waiting for months... if not years. Good thing I haven't been holding my breath.