Toddler-induced exhaustion

Joseph Kelly, EB Blogger
Joseph Kelly, EB Blogger 

There is nothing more precious to me now than sleep. Not a morning arrives when I don’t think everything about the impending day will be improved by just ten more minutes of sleep. 

And it makes no difference if I go to bed earlier, my body just needs to know that if it wanted a little extra recharging it could get it. Of course, with three kids in the house who scream at the mere suggestion of sunlight like a cohort of miniature vampires, this is never possible.

And even though I know that every other parent in the universe feels perpetually tired, this hasn’t stopped me from being conceited and desperate enough to believe that I could live in a house of small children and still be fully rested. I would like to share with you all the details of my plans to achieve perfect rest.

Plan A was simple: Susie and I would take it in turns to get up if any of our three girls woke in the night and we would then take it in turns to sleep in on the weekend. Simple. After about a week subtle cracks appeared in the plan. This is a transcript of dialogue on night 5:
“I think I hear Rita . . . snore . . . it’s your turn.” Snore, roll over. 
“Not my turn . . . I did last night.” Loud snore type breathing.
“No one woke last night. I got up the other night.” Tired but indignant tone.
“That’s not the rule. The rule is we take alternate nights.” Curt 3am tone bordering on shrill.
Cue twenty minute ‘discussion’ on the rules of engagement, leaving everyone less than ‘refreshed’. 

With the rules now firmly in place we returned to Plan A. Transcript of dialogue on night 8:
“I think I hear Rita . . . snore . . . it’s your turn.” Snore, roll over. 
“She doesn’t like it when I go in, she settles much easier for you” loud snore type breathing.
“They’re not the rules”, tired but indignant tone.
“I’m sick of the rules.” Curt 4am tone bordering on shrill.
Cue twenty minute ‘discussion’ on the rules of engagement leaving everyone less than ‘refreshed’.

What was needed was a new plan, a better plan, a second plan. Plan B was even more daring than Plan A for its sheer simplicity: we would ignore the kids when they woke at night. Simple. However, as with Plan A, cracks quickly appeared. This is a transcript of the first night of Plan B:
High pitch crying.
“Rita is awake.” Roll over. Ignore scream for several seconds.
“She sounds pretty upset. Perhaps one of us should check on her.” Loud snore type breathing. Long silence. “I think she’s gone back to sleep.” Smug snoring sounds.
Ultra high pitch crying. Sound of a mother and father wrestling with their twin desires for sleep and ensuring their daughter’s welfare. Mega-Ultra high pitch crying.

By the time I got to Rita’s room I was left in no doubt about what she thought of Plan B. Somewhere in between the Ultra and the Mega Ultra cries Rita had removed her big cuddly pajamas, her wondersuit, her singlet and finally her nappy. She provided a very articulate and wet illustration of her displeasure with Plan B. Somewhere in between stuffing Frances’s bedclothes into the washing machine and making up her cot I had a dull aching realisation that chronic tiredness may just be a fact of life for the next fifteen to twenty years and no amount of planning could cure it. Could this be true???

Have any of you out there hit on a way to cure toddler-induced chronic fatigue? Is there a ‘third way’ – a Plan C that won’t pit spouse against spouse, child against parent? Comment on Joseph's blog.