Sleep and Lack Thereof: A Timeline

This morning, still bleary-eyed, I handed my 9-year-old daughter a $5 bill. She’s been asking me lately what she can do around the house to earn money. I had been brushing her off, as it was hard to think of little projects and chores for her beyond the daily norm. But then in a lightbulb moment, I realized that there is one thing that I REALLY want her to do – sleep in her own bed!!

Hi, my name is Emily, and sleep at our house is a shit show. Follow me on a journey back in time to how we got here.

2013: My first child was born, and it was instantly clear that, though I am a person who functions well with very little sleep, I am a raving lunatic on no sleep. My husband and I ended up sleeping in shifts for the first few months, and I slept from 7pm to 1am.

2014: My first daughter was miraculously a pretty good sleeper from about four months on. We put her down awake in her own crib in her own room and high fived ourselves for being the best parents on earth.

2015: But then we had a second kid, and it all exploded. After a couple of earnest weeks trying to get her to sleep on her own, I conceded defeat and let her sleep latched onto my boob the entire night like she wanted. Which meant that my husband was relegated to the guest room for an entire year.

2017: Once breastfeeding with kid #2 ended, it was time to create some space between us at nighttime (girl, BYE). Both kids slept in one room for a short time, but somehow our older daughter ended up back with me. It was supposed to be temporary (sorry hubs, back to the guest room for you), but this lasted a year or more in the end.

2018: We bought twin big-girl-beds and both girls slept in their room together for basically an entire summer!!

2019: Kid #1 was starting kindergarten and wanted her own space, so we turned the guest room into a proper school-aged girl room. Only now she missed having someone to sleep with. So of course I started having to lay down with her at bedtime, which meant that I was often either spending the night in there or groggily stumbling to some other bed at 3am.

2020: Covid completely messed everything up. What day was it? What time was it? Was it the apocalypse? I was an emotional wreck, and if I wanted to sleep pressed up against a soft, snuggly child then what difference did it make? It was pretty much two solid years of musical beds, which could easily mean that I would go to sleep in one bed that wasn’t mine and wake up in another bed that wasn’t mine. It was the wild west of sleeping. We also started acquiring cats during this time period, and warm lumps of fur at your feet/head certainly don’t simplify sleeping.

2023: Aaaaand now I’m paying 9-year-old to sleep in her own bed.

Like so many other aspects of parenting, I never thought we would be here. But also, it’s not so bad. We are happy. We love each other. And maybe later, we’ll all lay down for a nap – together, of course.

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