I was reading on a spirited child discussion board the other day about how many of these children wake up early no matter what time they go to bed. Caroline is this way. No matter what time she falls asleep, she is awake almost every morning between 6:00 and 6:30. Keeping her up later does not make a bit of difference. In fact, it makes it worse. Once in a great while she will sleep until 7:30 or even 8:00 and I seriously feel like I’ve had a vacation. (A few mothers also mentioned the not knowing if they are going to get Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde each morning. Um, yes, I get that too.)
Spirited Children and Falling Asleep
Some moms were mentioning that they also experience the “might fall asleep in ten minutes, might be awake for two hours” problem that we also have. I cannot count on her to fall asleep within a particular amount of time no matter how tired or not tired she is. We’ve tried every trick in the book. It doesn’t matter.
Right now she is so tired (probably overtired because it took her forever to fall asleep last night) and she’s still awake after being in bed an hour. And she isn’t just in there quiet. She’s talking to herself, her animals/dolls, and whatever she’s reading. Telling her to not talk doesn’t work because I honestly don’t even think she realizes she’s doing it 90% of the time.
Spirited Children and Bedtimes
By the end of the day, I just want her to go. to. sleep. My patience is at the end by the time we get her in bed. I’m tired of the constant chatter, I’m tired of being on, I usually still have work to do in the evening, and I just want some time to myself. I cannot begin to unwind and decompress until she is asleep.
David is fortunate in that he can sit down and just start working as soon as she is in bed, even if she isn’t asleep. I cannot do it. So when she is awake until 9:00 or later, I stay up later because I need at least three hours in the evening to recover and unwind. So then I stay up too late which makes it impossible to get up before her because skipping sleep doesn’t work. So I don’t get enough sleep and then I have to get up when she wakes up and start all over again.
We’ve analyzed this every which way and the simple answer is: There is no solution. And it frustrates me to no end that we can’t find a way to make this work better. I’m frustrated and tired of it.
I suppose some people will think I’m just selfish. Being a mother means having children around. Duh. I know that.
I’m just trying to figure out how my personality and her personality are both going to survive the next fourteen and a half years.
I don’t know what the answer is when it comes to raising a spirited child. I’m just venting this evening about something that’s been driving me nuts for a long time. I hate ending the evening on a negative note. I feel like a terrible mother when I’m short with her in the evening when it is time to go to bed or something happens to necessitate her getting out of bed. I know I need to keep praying that God will give me the ability to suffer long when the evenings drag on.
So what makes you feel like a bad mother?
If you came here via an online search, please note I have an entire page devoted to
Raising Highly-Sensitive and Spirited Children.
I also have a follow-up post to this one:
Getting Spirited Children to Sleep and Related Challenges.
Thanks for your honest response. I am very sorry that what I wrote bothered you. I am also sorry that I used a negative term (obstinate) to describe your child, when you never used that word. I should have used your words, especially because it is not a favorable characterization. And I’m sorry if that leads to others confusing my daughter’s story with yours. Please forgive me. I also realized that I probably should have just stuck to the sleep issue, since that was your subject in the post. Sleep problems and stubborn disobedience (or you might say “strong-willed” behavior) are very closely related in my mind because of the common root in nutritional deficiencies or toxic overloads in the body. And let me qualify that last statement by saying I come from a reformed background and fully believe in the depravity of man. Sickness just reveals the depth of the sickness of our souls.
As for misunderstandings, just remember that the only perfectly written book is the most misunderstood book, too. We imperfect writers must confess and repent where necessary but also remember that some people refuse to understand. Don’t accommodate them.
Also, I wanted to say that I very much respect your desire to protect your daughter. You are right to do so especially in this wild and lawless internet.
Sallie @ a quiet simple life
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment. And thank you for not being offended by what I wrote. I don’t know how long you have read here, but I’ve struggled since the very beginning (over five years ago) with how much to share and how much to not. It has been even more of a struggle since having Caroline. Your comment came at the end of a day where I had been pondering this very issue off and on all day so I think that is why it hit me so strongly.
Anyway, please continue to leave comments because I appreciate thoughtful insights! 😀
Hi Sallie! It’s probably odd for a guy to leave a comment here but please indulge me. My friend’s daughter has symptoms similar to your daughter’s.
Have you tried consulting a doctor, by any chance?
Sallie @ a quiet simple life
Comments are always welcome! There are quite a few men who read here, but only occasionally comment. It was interesting to read this post again since it is about a year old. I still struggle with the being on all day and needing to decompress in the evenings. But there really isn’t anything to see a doctor about. Caroline is a healthy, happy, smart little girl. Dealing with my need to balance motherhood, work and sleep is more an issue for me than it is something wrong with Caroline.
Thanks you for the comments. As I sit here in tears reeling from my spirited child I appreciate knowing I am not alone. I love him so much and at times his words are down right mean. He too is a 630am riser and just recently he started sleeping in – yea! I got laughs and some tears from this article. Thanks again and off I go to hug my spirited almost 6 year old.
Sigh, I can relate to this ALL TOO WELL! I had tears in my eyes reading this because this reality is very exhausting. I’ve been up to 1/2 am many nights with my husband asking, Why are you still awake? My answer, I NEED time to myself and this is my time, unfortunately. And this was also the only time I could get any work done. Not that I hate it but its sheer exhausting.
LIke you, I have also exhausted the system. I have tried everything. EVERYTHING. and nothing works. My friends are lucky with their rigid schedules… I’ve tried it all. I’ll put her in bed at 9pm and she will toss and turn until midnight and then ask for food because she has burned off enough calories for another full course dinner.
Now I have twins added to this. MY 1am time is no longer. Its one baby or the other, or both once she is asleep, they are taking their turns. They are early to bed and early to rise and don’t sleep through the night at all. I’m beyond exhausted most days and YES I feel like a bad mother when I feel exhausted, worn thin and I just want my space. I feel horrible when I feel like I need a break. I feel horrible when I see them sleep and I’m both happy and sad.
And reading the responses above, I can relate to how people can perceive your/our children. I’ve had family members saying what I have written made my daughter look bad. I just understand like you stated, people just don’t truly understand and the purpose of our blogs isn’t to write on all the accomplishments our kids do but how media doesn’t show the other side of gifted.
Even though my daughter refuses to sleep, is mess, intense, emotional… etc. Like your daughter, she is also EXTREMELY sweet. She has empathy like no one I know her age. She cares and wants to take care of people. She loves and cares deeply… but shen she wants her way, she’ll break barriers to do so, though, we try and keep it under control. Much of what you have described of your daughter is so much like mine.
Thank you for sharing Sallie.
Adding twins to the mix…. Oh my. I can only imagine how exhausted you are.
I agree to keep focusing on all the best parts of your daughter. Caroline is so caring. We call her Nurse Caroline because if either of us is sick or need a band-aid, she is on it immediately. She’s very mothering. She feels very deeply. I know these traits are going to make her a very loving and caring person in life because I can see them so clearly already.
Don’t feel guilty about needing your space and time. You have three little people taking a lot out of you all day (and night sometimes). No one has inexhaustible resources. No one. I have a number of posts on here about introverts, needing time, etc. If you can’t find them, let me know.
Hang in there!