Sleep...... As a parent of any child what is sleep?
It's the time of day when we finally can crawl into bed. The house is silent all is well and we can drift of into the land of nod.
It's amazing talking to other parents how much we all comment on sleep and the lack there of. Before I had children I would take sleep for granted. Now a days if I get a good few solid hours sleep a night I feel grateful. Although personally I get grumpy it's less than 7 hours.
Some parents have very restless nights when raising their children. Babies are all different!! some sleep through the night others are up every few hours, but they eventually get older and become more settled. It is typically expected that at some point your children will go to sleep at night and sleep through until morning. This was the case with 3 of our children.
For some of us this is not the case. Raising a child with ADHD has its challenges. One that in my view has the most effect is sleep. Problems getting to sleep and staying a sleep. We all discover new ways to help our children to sleep or we invent new ones. For us massage has played a huge part in our lives for the past year. Indian head massage and story massage both work really well. As a mother and a therapist I use both techniques to help relax all our children.
Our journey with sleep and ADHD ......
Have you ever got to the point where you are so tired everything in you wants to sleep but you just can't nod of? I know I do as a parent I worry a lot about what's happening;
how the other children are coping?
wether we are doing all that we can for our children?
am I being a good enough mother to them all?
am I raising them properly?
Am I imagining that there are 'things' wrong with my child?
I can feel like I have matchsticks in my eyes and every muscle feels like it's been tightly wound up. Sleep on these occasions is nearly impossible to the point I lie there listening to my OH sleeping, crying. I try not to cry in front of my children as I feel I need to be seen to be strong. I want them to have happy memories of their childhood, I don't want them to have mummy crying all the time as part of that. They know that their sister struggles to sleep and they are so good at understanding and creeping around if necessary. What they don't understand is the need for three of them to share a room so our other daughter is on her own. This they hate but with a three bedroom and no financial room to move as yet this is how it has to be.
(l) is nearly 10 and has ADHD. With that seems to come this inability to sleep. Our daughter doesn't know why she can't sleep. Her brain doesnt seem to tell her body that she is physically shattered. Before diagnosis as mentioned in a previous blog I and my oh would literally work in a shift pattern. I would try and cope with the daily routine while he was at work and the night time routine would mostly fall to him. At this point our daughter would sleep on and of through the nights for an hour at most. By the end of the assessment period we were literally doing everything we could to keep the peace in the house and trying to make sure our other children were not disturbed as they had school the next day. It was very hard.
As someone on the outside many people who read this blog may well have had some experience of sleepless nights with babies and toddlers but imagine it's your school age child and its every night all night with a child you can not reason with or calm down. Your other children go to bed when told but you have one that just can't go to sleep. It's not that she refuses to go, she can not help it, mostly she really wants to go to sleep but she can't. It was like every night without fail. She would make up excuses like she had to clean her room, something was missing,she was hungry ect ect she would literally become so upset she would keep the whole house awake. This in turn started to have an effect not only on my husband and my relationship but also on our other children. They would wake tired and grumpy from the disturbed sleep. They would also become grumpy with their sister.
Eventually our daughter was diagnosed just after her 7th birthday and was started on daytime and night-time medication. Do not think for one minute that I enjoy or take pleasure as a parent giving medication to my children. Up to this point and even now they only get calpol when it's really needed. I don't like giving my children medication and thankfully over the years the need for medication has been low even with four children. Back on point the first night (l) had circadin was a revelation. She actually went to sleep at 6pm and stayed that way for most of the night. We remember waking up just to check on her as it was such an alien position to be in.
Of course as with all things the magic does end. Since then medication has been changed several times as they wear of, stop working or cause tummy pains. We have one that works at the minute but it only gets her to sleep for 4 hours or so. Currently age 9 she sleeps from 7pm until 2am and then she is awake until she goes to bed again. It's horrible as I can see how tired she is. She no longer wakes anyone up which in itself is a marvel as very often she will wake her sisters in a morning and spend a couple of hours making their mornings hell 😟 she lays in bed and sings or wonders downstairs for a drink. I know this doesn't help but it helps her stay calm.
We recently started a new bedtime routine incorporating Indian Head massage and www.storymassage.co.uk. Being able to use that positive touch is a great way to spend some quiet time before sleep. It can easily be incorporated into the bedtime hygiene routine. With story massage we can write our own stories specifically for our daughter and personalise them. She loves having a story that is about her and with her learning difficulties I find she is better able to understand and remember the stories than she would just being told. The whole blend of massage and story telling means that she is engaged for longer. She can feel the story as well as hear it. For us story massage works on so many levels. It calms, relaxes her tense muscles, keeps her engaged and its above all fun. Story massage is a wonderful tool on so many levels. All our children love to write stories and I have many to convert into story massages. I would highly recommend checking out their website www.storymassage.co.uk for more details.
A recent check up has highlighted that (l) is suffering with anxiety. She gets really worried about all sorts of different things, especially at night. It's also become apparent that the medication our daughter is on can cause a side effect of bad dreams. This has made us really sit up and think. I feel terrible as a parent that the medication I am giving her could be causing more problems. It's something we are currently working on with her paediatrician to help in the best way we can. I blame myself though wether because I am tired or I just feel like I am failing....but in reality I am not failing and neither are you!!!
People say I am a great mum but as I write this blog I don't feel at all great. I am worried and scared and sad and I am tired. I am a mum trying to help my daughter the best way I can and sometimes I fail. Sometimes there is nothing that I can do to help her. That's is the hardest part of being a parent wether they are disabled or not. The unknown is scary but together we can raise awareness and support each other.
Xx Leanne xx
As always please feel free to contact me or leave a message if there's anything you want to talk about.