Sunday, September 12, 2010

Upstairs, Downstairs

My five year old still doesn't sleep through the night, and I'm about at the end of my rope.

Our Cape Cod Style house has four bedrooms, but two of them are upstairs and two are downstairs. When we moved in we never expected to have three kids in this house. It was supposed to be our "starter house" in which we'd build "sweat equity" so that we could build our "forever house" after about 5 years. Well, with the way the housing market is, we should have the money to build our "forever house" right around the time that Baby Gozer leaves for college.

So when we moved in, we took the largest bedroom (upstairs). When Mary Grace was born, the second upstairs bedroom became hers. The downstairs two have been an office (in the front) and a guest room where BJ has kept his stationary bike and weights (in the back). When Claire was born, we decided that she and MG should share, and that's worked just fine, but now that Gozer's coming, we've reached critical bedroom mass. We can't have three kids with three beds and three sleep schedules in the same small bedroom.

After kicking around every possible combination of people in rooms, we finally decided to leave the girls in their room, to put the office and the exercise room in our old upstairs room, we took the downstairs front bedroom, and Gozer will be in the downstairs back bedroom. Guests will have the option to sleep on the couch in the family room or at the Motel 6.

We figure this makes the most sense, because Gozer's going to (hopefully!) sleep during the day, so I won't constantly be running up and down the stairs to put him or her to bed, or to get him or her up. I'll be on the main floor where the kids are playing so I'll be able to listen to them while I'm nursing Gozer to sleep. Also, it eliminates having to go up and down the stairs with the baby in the middle of the night. I remember several times finding the girls in my bed, knowing they couldn't walk yet, but having no idea how they got there. I don't want to sleepwalk up and down 13 steep stairs with the baby.

We started the process of moving the rooms last weekend (which is why things have been quiet, blog-wise, for a while). It's amazing how much stuff (and how much dust!) we have. It honestly would have been easier to move to a new house, but we would barely break even if we sold right now, considering the nearly-identical house that's for sale in our neighborhood right now for $10,000 less than we bought ours for 7-1/2 years ago!

You know those puzzles with 25 squares, and one is empty, and you have to slide around all the squares to get them in numerical order or to make a picture? That's pretty much what we've been doing.

Our new bed was delivered yesterday - the king we had wouldn't fit down here, so we had to get a queen. We're working on the closet today. I'll post pictures, eventually, when we get it all done, so expect those in 2023 or so.

The biggest problem in this whole process has been that Mary Grace is not at all happy with Mom and Dad being downstairs while she and her sister are upstairs. We stay upstairs with them until they fall asleep, and most mornings BJ is up there exercising when they wake up, but she has taken it upon herself to wake up at 3 or 4 am every night to come talk to me about how unhappy she is with the new sleeping arrangement.

Claire's fine, because her Big Sister makes her feel safe (and she's been a better sleeper from day 1). Big Sister, however, doesn't have anyone bigger to make her feel safe, so she comes downstairs to register her complaint whenever she happens to fall awake during the night.

This is not cool. I am very tired and very grumpy with her. It takes me forever to fall back asleep when she wakes me up.  I tried bribing her - and she stayed in her bed all night the two nights that she knew she'd get a cupcake if she stayed upstairs, but when the cupcakes ran out, she ran right back downstairs!  I'm not going to give her a cupcake every day for the next 13 years.

We've explained to her that she can come downstairs if she's sick or hurt, if she smells smoke or hears the smoke detector go off, or if Claire is sick or hurt, but she can't just come down to "snuggle" at 3 am. 

She's not allowed to watch TV all day as a punishment for waking me up.  She may never be allowed to watch TV again at the rate we're going.

Suggestions welcome.


Kathryn said...

Here are a couple of suggestions. We had the same issue with Kelly waking up at night at a couple of different ages. In our 1st house when she was less than 3 if she woke up (and truely did not need anything) we would put her back to bed very "matter-of-factly" and never spoke a word to her. After a few nights of this she finally gave up becasue she couldn't engage us in anything fun - like a conversation (she has always liked to talk). After we moved to the house with the downstairs master and she was all by herself upstairs she would venture down to our room. Our thought was if she wants to do that, fine, but she is not allowed to sleep in our bed. She could curl up on the floor with the cats, but not with us. I would give her one opportunity to be walked back up to bed, but after that she was on her own. I will tell you that that strategy was not very successful as she never minded sleeping on the floor in our room. So if it is privacy you are after it won't work, but if you're after a good night's sleep it works just fine. By the way, at the age of 15 when we moved to the current house and the master was on the main floor and her bedroom was in the basement far far away from ours and her brother's, she told us she would not move unless we got her a dog to sleep in her room with her - now we have 2!! So apparently my tactics were not all that effective at teaching her to sleep by herself, but we did get plenty of sleep ourselves. Ian on the other hand has always been a fabulous sleeper no matter where he is. So, there are my 2 cents worth. Maybe you could remind her that Claire is there for company, or send big scary Max to sleep in her room. Good luck!!

morganna said...

I agree with Kathryn -- good suggestions. Also, if you decide that she needs to go back to bed (as opposed to sleeping on your floor), don't you get out of bed. Let your husband take her back. It'll make it that much easier for you to go to sleep. Along the same lines, do not turn on a light or talk to her. Let your husband talk if necessary (but keep it to a minimum). It might seem hard on her, she may scream for mommy, but you and the new baby need sleep more than she needs to talk to you and it won't traumatize her for life. I promise.