I reckon (and this is just my personal opinion and this is my blog so I'm gonna say it) that the trouble with parenting is that you always think you are doing a (scuse the language) fucked up job. Everyone has an opinion on what you are doing, and of course its wrong - no matter what you are currently doing. Everyone else knows how to do it better than you do. Of course they do. Even authors who have never met your kids seem to know exactly how to get them to go to sleep. What they don't usually tell you is how to get them to stay the fuck asleep.
Elf Man and I are troubled. We have no idea why our children don't seem to like sleep as much as we do. I mean, maybe its because we average 4 hours sleep a night, and have done for nearly 5 years now (except for one random night when all 3 kids slept through before we had The Baby) that we seem to crave more sleep than they do, but really - sleep is fucking awesome! Our children just don't seem to agree though. We've tried so many things, the soft approach, the stern approach, the leaving approach, the sitting at the door not moving a fucking muscle approach - nothing works.
Sometimes I think my house is possessed by this evil little spirit who pokes and prods at my children until they wake up in the middle of the night - just to torture us.
So it comes to this - is it our parenting? It has to be really doesn't it, for all 3 big kids to have issues with sleep? Not just sleep either - they hardly ever eat their dinner. The only things that Sparrow is guaranteed to eat is pizza, spaghetti and pasta with cheese. Not exactly the healthiest of meals on any level, and I refuse to just make those three meals so he will eat. Coo won't eat, just plays with her food. Likes to cut it into little pieces and not eat a single crumb. Speedy likes to push it off her plate or get up and run around the place, all while Elf Man and I are trying to keep some sort of order at the dinner table. Wine helps with calming the temper I must admit. But still - how embarrassing if we ever go out to a restaurant and our children do this? People would think that we have no authority or power over our children.
So is it that? Is it a power struggle between parent and child? Is it that they aren't hungry/too hungry/overtired - a combination of all three? Should we move dinner to just the children eating at 5pm and Elf Man and I eating at a later time? Should we forget about a "family dinner" like we had as children with our families, and just see our kids for who they are - kids that don't like to eat when the adults are eating, and eat on their own schedule of time, and not necessarily in conjunction with our schedule?
Tonight all the kids were playing up (again, with the exception of The Baby, she eats quite well for a 7 month old and of course she can't run around, and even if she could, she's in a high chair and can't climb yet) so Elf Man and I put them in for an early bath, and then bed without their usual cup of milk. I put Speedy and Coo to bed, which is something I never do, its Elf Man's job to do. They were asleep by 7pm. Speedy usually goes to bed at 7pm, and is asleep by 8pm. It took 15 minutes for me to put them down instead of Elf Man, they muck up for him and can take up to an hour each child to get to sleep. So is that the way it should be done? Is that the secret? Do I have to put them down to sleep because they see me as the meaner parent? Am I more strict than Elf Man?
Or should we try controlled crying.... a gate so they can't get out....drugging them to reset their body clock.... we don't know. That's our answer. We. Don't. Know. We have no idea what to do.
So that's my trouble with parenting - not only are we always wrong, but there is all this advice out there and we STILL don't know what to do. Everyone fails to mention that parenting is a high pressure job, cos if you fuck up, you'll end up with a kid who has massive issues and of course, blames their parents for their dysfunctional life. There is a huge pressure to "do well" at this job, however, there isn't any on the job training, and I'll be fucked if I can find where the manual is, but it didn't come attached to any of them at birth, and I'm not going to have another one to see if that one pops out with one!