Tuesday, March 17, 2009

naps are for the birds

For the past few months, the triplets have been resisting their afternoon nap. If we're out running errands or returning from an outing, they will easily fall asleep in the car. But if I put them down to bed with the purpose of sleeping, they generally won't.

Not only are the triplets refusing their nap, so is their little brother. If I'm really lucky, I can squeeze a 60-minute nap out of Henry at some point during the day. There is no doubt in my mind that this child is chronically overtired, but ... I'm not going to write about that, today.

Instead, I'm going to write about my chronic over tiredness. Which I know is aggravated by training for a marathon. And working. And only getting three hours of sleep on Sunday night because I was pulled in to updating my Amazon Store (that has been a lot of fun ... I've especially enjoyed adding descriptions for all the items.)

But mostly, I think my over tiredness is because I have NO BREAK during the day and thus far, the endorphin rush from all this exercise I've been doing hasn't kicked in. I'm constantly going, going, going. And I'm chased after by a baby who always wants to be held and nursed. And I'm picking up after children who thrive on making a disaster wherever they go. And that whole Day Light Savings time "springing forward" thing has wreaked havoc on my schedule.

Last night I fell asleep at around 9:00 while watching a documentary. When Charlie came to bed at 11:00 PM, I woke up when he gave me some pajamas and pried a cup out of my hand.

Even though I got a solid eight hours of sleep, this morning I was dragging. So after breakfast, I took the children for a walk around the block. I thought the fresh air would help rejuvenate me and maybe, tire the kids out. Because we've been talking about different kinds of homes that animals live in, I thought this would be a good opportunity to make a bird's nest.

We gathered sticks and pine needles.

We made a little mound.

We tried to tuck everything in together.

We searched out some bugs for the nest...

And we picked berries for any lucky aviary residents.

We spruced it up with some flowers.

Then, we stuck it in to a tree.

We called for birds to come and live in the nest and after a solid 10 minutes, retreated home slightly discouraged that not a one winged species had answered our call.

We had lunch and I was feeling so tired I thought for sure I could lay down and sleep for the next 10 years. But the kids? They weren't tired at all. And after today, I've decided that there are few feelings worse in the entire world than when you're exhausted and several small children who are under your direct supervision aren't.

So, I read everyone a few stories and put a groggy Henry in to his crib. I brought the triplets outside to the garage to play so Henry could have a quiet house. But mostly so I wouldn't have to listen to him SCREAM for the five minutes it would take before he crashed out. We sat on the floor playing with stuffed animals for about 30 minutes and at some point I must have dozed off.

I fell asleep while sitting upright in Indian style.

When I snapped to - MOMENTS LATER - the kids had quietly emptied several of the storage boxes that had been holding clothes for the summer. They had loaded all of their stuffed animals in to a wagon and were trying to pull it out the side door. Someone had activated the sprinkler system and they had unraveled an entire roll of teflon tape around the cables on the garage door.

Just then, I could hear Henry inside waking up from his nap. When I looked at my watch, I noticed that 45 minutes had lapsed since he had been put down and he was now up.

I collected the baby from his crib and returned to the garage which had been turned upside down. I pulled the partially jammed wagon back in to the garage. I put all the stuffed animals away. I put all of the summer clothes away. I put all of Charlie's tools away. I turned off the sprinklers. Then, I looked at my four children and said, "YOU ARE SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF MY BODY!!"

Then, I felt guilty for telling them that. So I brought everyone in to the house and put on the movie Pinocchio, which I had picked up during an outing yesterday and had planned to put in someone's Easter Basket, next month.

You know, if *I* was a bird, I would be sleeping soundly in that floral nest at the end of our street.

But only after I booted all my hatchlings out.


  1. I'm right there with you. I've taken trio's naps away too but since I removed Ethan's crib and tent he will eventually fall asleep after an hour or two and us going upstairs a few hundred times. The last 2 days he's up from 3 to 6am. Then a bear to get up to go to preschool and was mean to his teachers yesterday and spitting on his friends. I have to do everything from having him crash and nap in the afternoon. It's a cycle I feel we'll never break and I may never get any amount of sleep at all!

  2. That bird nest is awesome. I think the local hotel has a perfect bird-nest for you to get some rest. Make a reservation and leave Charlie to the masses :)

  3. I love your blog and I think you are awesome so please don't take me the wrong way when I say get off amazon, get off your blog, get some sleep! You will not believe the difference you will feel in your life when you actually get 7-8 hours of sleep...consistantly! Quality of life is better than the quantity of hours you get staying up later. Take it from another multiple momma, you need sleep to keep up with them!

  4. Jen, you need to start going to BED at a decent hour. Go to bed. Right now. You will end up chronically ill if you don't get your rest. Proper rest is as vital as air and peanut butter cups.

  5. If anyone ever asks (which surprisingly few do), I say the absolute hardest thing about being a mom is the lack of sleep, the relentlessness of the children when all I can do is make it to the next naptime. If only they would take one! There are few things that have turned me into an absolute slobbering, sobbing, emotional mess than not getting enough zzzz's. And I haven't even added exercise to my routine. :)

    That nest looks mighty inviting, indeed.

  6. Your pictures look like Easter. They are beautiful.

  7. I'm going through this whole nap protest business... only I have only 2 kiddos!

    Do you have any bounce house places near you... yeah they aren't super clean, but my oldest (3) is dead tired afterwards from all the running and jumping!

  8. I am so sorry Jen. I've been there and I don't have FOUR children four and under. Can you afford to get someone to help out for just a day or so to right yourself up again? Just a few hours a day for the rest of the week? Sometimes all it takes it a few days of catchup rest to make things not so dizzying.

    Are you taking vitamins? Maybe you're anemic?

    I wish I could help somehow...

  9. You do realize that Henry is LITERALLY sucking the life out of you, right? Perhaps it is finally time to wean permanently? As important as the nursing is to you emotionally, it's going to have to end soon enough anyway---just think how many of those important calories you'll keep for yourself. Motherhood is full of trade-offs.... maybe wean now so you can be more your happy-go-lucky self with ALL your kids during the day?

    This admittedly from a mom who never nursed, of course.

    Love ya,

  10. I am right there with you, and I only have twins. My son woke up four times last night, every hour and a half after midnight, for the following - the first, he just needed a pacifier, the second, a pacifier plus a quick back rub, the third, all of the above and 5 minutes in my arms, and the fourth, well the fourth was a screaming temper tantrum that lasted nearly 30 minutes (25 minutes while I was trying to console him and 5 minutes when I decided he needed to figure things out for himself and left- after he kicked me - you can bet how I'll handle these things now on). He and his sister both have sinus infections, so I am trying to be there day and night to help get them through it, but I have one too, and without sleep I fear I will never be cured. Sorry for the venting, but just know you are in good company. This too shall pass, right?

  11. Hi there! Coming out of the woodwork to say that I check your blog to get a good laugh in every day. Even on your serious passages, I always find some hint of sarcasm that I can relate to. I have 3 under the age of 4 but nothing like you have it! But still...thanks for the laughs. I know you made a comment in the past about how you have a Nikon d40x and don't know much about photography, but for not knowing much, you do a great job! Would you consider posting some photo tips in the near future? I have the same camera, but don't get HALF the quality of the stellar shots you get! Every now and then I'll get a good one, but every single one you post is just so crisp and clean. Do you shoot in auto mode primarily or not? Do you shoot in jpeg or RAW? And do you ever use the aperture/shutter modes? I always seem to get blurry pics of the kids when I try to mess with the settings. Anyway...any and all tips would be appreciated! Thanks! Love your blog!

  12. I feel for you. I would have given my eye teeth for a nap this afternoon. I was ready to put my four to bed at 5:30. Too bad they didn't think ir was such a great idea!

  13. I thought I was tired...and then I read this post. Whew! i'm even more exhausted after just reading it!!!

    Sending you lots of caffinated thoughts :)

  14. Ah! No rest for the weary.

    Sounds like the kids are getting quite an education along with great organizatonal skills! ;-)

    However, seeing your experiences, I fear for my kids.....Although we are on year 2......Can we come live with you so you can teach me...to homeschool?? Marg.

  15. Hey Jen,

    I'm really not sure of any other way to get in-touch with you: I have sent e-mails but I am not sure if you even get them... I thought I would make the famous O'Henry bars today and Yes, I have to look up the ingredients........I notice you have not posted for a couple of days.....not even comments?????

    Are you okay????

    Hope you don't mind I'm just checking on you.....that's it...hope your just taking time with your family and everything is just perfect.

    Your pictures are just beautiful by the way!!

  16. This story reminds of my life when we lived in Groton and you were an angel waiting to be born to us. I fell sound asleep while reading and Janet, left the house and went up to our neighbor's home and asked if they could tie her shoes because her Mom was asleep.
    I think Janet was about 4 and I wa expecting---who--Beth or Eileen?
    A Mom sure does get tired.

  17. Don't discount Deborah's comments just because she hasn't breastfed. Nursing a child does suck the energy out of you. She gave good advice, take that away from one so you can have more energy for all 4. That and going to bed at a reasonable hour at night. I nursed 3 kids. Believe me - you've done your bit. Time to move on.


    Take a look at MY website!!!! Look at my bar and Percentage! AHHHH!!!


    THANK YOU! BIG HUGS TO EVERYONE! Hug a friend from me! ;-)

    (Thanks Jen! Without you non of this would have happened!)

    Love, Marg ;-)
    PS It's 4 am your time...I picked up the phone to call you for a big rally and realized the time!! Thanks again!

  19. Possible total a**vice here but have you ever tried simply putting the three older children in their rooms at "nap" time and telling them that that is where they will stay until you come and get them out. Explain to them that they don't have to sleep if they don't want to but they have to be in their beds with a book or playing quietly on the floor with a toy -- that "nap" time (we just call it quiet time for the kids who don't sleep) is also your quiet time and it is not optional.

    At our house the older kids (3 and 5) are not allowed out of their rooms for an hour and a half (longer if they don't respect the rules).

    They are old enough now to know that they need to respect that you need quiet time just as much as you respect that occasionally they don't feel like sleeping.

    As for Henry. I have no great answers there. You've said before that he's never been the best sleeper so at this point it may be difficult to get him into a good pattern. With Eric (now 3), he was a tough napper. I initially rocked him to sleep and he would stay in bed for around 40 minutes to an hour. Finally I went with cry it out and he'd crash after 5-10 minutes of screaming and sleep again for 45 minutes or so. After several months of that I started leaving him in his bed (crying/screaming or not) for at least 30 minutes after he woke up. After several days of doing that he would stay in his crib quietly for the majority of the 30 minutes... then, after about 2 weeks he just started falling back to sleep during that time for another hour. Now at three he still occasionally takes a 2 hour nap.