What about the tough days?

24 Jul

Crikey today’s been difficult! Little Miss Squidger refused to sleep!

After a long and lovely afternoon with friends at Chatsworth yesterday [Farm and Adventure Playground], I hoped Squidge would fall asleep as soon as she was tucked up in bed. Especially since she had refused to have her usual morning nap.


Bedtime routine all went according to plan: bath; ‘In The Night Garden’ whilst getting dried and dressed; story; cuddles; milk; bed. It’s at this juncture Squidger diverted from the previously agreed plan.

About an hour later I could hear the tell tale sounds of a child with absolutely no intention of going to sleep, no matter how tired she was. Her door is kept slightly ajar and rather than go in and disturb her [at that point I naively thought she’d still drop off] I sat outside and observed what she was doing. It was quite sweet. She has three teddies in her bed and she had them all lying down each with their own cushion/pillow and was reading them a story. She kept asking them if they were ok then told them all to go to ‘seep’. Then she thought they might fancy an adventure and catapulted each one out of the cot, closely followed by her two cushions, pillow, sheet and cover.

Now she was stumped. She had nothing to do! She realised this and attempted to retrieve all the cast off items to no avail. She appeared to be considering her next course of action and deemed now was the right time to do a bit of bed jumping. She was thoroughly enjoying herself! For about five minutes. Then she got bored and the ‘checking out mummy’s there and might give me some attention’ tears began. You know the sort? I remember doing it when I was little. A quick cry. Then silence, ear cocked up listening to see if the sound missile has met its target. When it’s apparent it has not, you launch another, just a bit louder than the first. Listen. And so on until the missile hits its target, the target decides to check just to be sure and bingo! Mummy is in the room giving the best hug and cuddle a Squidger could ask for.

Now I have a bit of an issue here. Well ‘issue’ might not be the right word to use but…I could use some advice. It’s only 5 weeks and 1 day since Squidger came home. I think, and social workers, family, friends all think that Squidge is making good attachments with me and vice versa. When she has cried at night [usually between 11 and midnight when she’s woken from a dream or something] I’ve gone in, reassured her, given cuddles and she’s settled back down to sleep. I’ve also responded to the cries like last night’s…where she’s not yet been asleep and kind of just wants to check mummy’s still there [or she’s bored!] Have reassured her, explained she needs to get some sleep and that mummy’s just next door if she needs me. In terms of attachments I think that’s the right thing to be doing. But I do worry a tinsy tiny bit that I shouldn’t be running to her everytime she cries, especially when she’s beyond tired, in case this becomes a habit for her. Does that make sense? Any thoughts?

Anyway, I went in, we had cuddles, I explained it was late and tired Squidge needed to get some rest. All met with hearty agreement then not five minutes later she was up an’ at ’em again with the teddies, covers and cushions mummy had so helpfully put back into bed! This went on til around 10pm when a poo-filled nappy needed changing. By this point I was getting a bit stressed as I knew that this lack of sleep would mean a patience testing day the next day.

All was finally quiet by 10.30 and I retired a short time later once I’d relaxed a little! Then I saw midnight, 2 am, 4 am and 6 am as Squidge woke up and cried for mummy. :-/ Each time she settled back down withtin a couple of minutes but it meant I was wide awake and couldn’t really get back into a deep sleep. Once morning finally came I went into Squidger’s bedroom and laid on the floor with a cover and tried to encourage her to have a little rest with mummy. What a bloody ridiculous idea!! She wanted to be up and she wanted to be up now. So toast it was and I counted how many hours to her usual morning nap – anytime between 10.30 – 11.30am

I poured a couple of strong coffees down my neck, did some housework, helped to keep Squidge entertained with her dollies, set up her indoor tent and kept hold of the fact I could have a nap when she did! Except Squidge was ‘overtired’ and nothing, I mean nothing, was good enough for her. It’d be laughs and giggles one minute then that would inexplicably change to weeping and wailing and full blown tantrums the next. Oh dear.

I distracted her with a fruit snack and drink and we had a little chat about feeling better after a sleep.


Nap time was around 11am this morning. I laid her down in the usual way. All seemed well. Then. Full scale nuclear missiles were launched. Big tears, screams with wailing and gnashing of teeth. In for the reassuring cuddle then out again. Seemed to do the trick and all was soon quiet. Phew! Her chance to catch up on a couple of hours…me too!

45 minutes later and she was wide awake. Well, I say wide awake…she was, by now, in a sleep debt of around 4 hours.

Ah well…back to trying to entertain. A quick walk around the neighbourhood. I must admit to having to take a few deep breaths and several coffees to keep me sane, calm and going! But she is CUTE! and loveable and sweet. She spontaneously offered me kisses and cuddles all afternoon.

We tried another nap at about 3.30. She doesn’t usually have an afternoon nap but her eyes were itchy and the yawns just didn’t stop! I gave her her comfort bottle and explained it’d do her good to have a little rest time. No tears this time and whilst she didn’t sleep, it was ‘quiet’ time.

Up again at 4, tea at 5.30, then bedtime routine. She was in bed by 6.45 and when I looked in at 7 she was flat out. Thank goodness!

It’s been difficult. I know why she flits between tears, tantrums and giggles without a moment’s notice – I manage it by taking a deep breath and saying ‘She’s tired…just be patient…she’ll be fine after some sleep and so will you’ over and over again! But even that gets wearing [sp?] when you’re tired yourself. I got to answering myself back ‘Oh shut up you patronising cow!’ I could feel my shoulders tensing and a headache coming on. But if I felt a bit crappy, at least I could tweet about it or text my friends and tell them how I was feeling…Squidger couldn’t. All she could do was cry!

I know tomorrow will be a better day…we’ll have both had some rest and we’ll be ready to go out and about as usual. In five weeks and one day I make it that we’ve only had three days like today…and it wasn’t all difficult. We still laughed and cuddled. Even the tough days are worth it.


4 Responses to “What about the tough days?”

  1. howwelaughed July 24, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Just been reminded by a Twitter friend that when adopted children start ‘testing’, it’s a sure sign they’re feeling settled and secure.


    • Zoe July 30, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

      I don’t about fostered children, but after an exasperating many months with my eldest daughter, I did leave her to cry for periods (not sure how long but 15 mins?). I did this with reassurance from friends – if she wasn’t ill, wasn’t hungry, thirsty or dirty, then so much of the crying was seeking attention. a. What Xanthe needed to learn that she was loved, but that nightime, following a meal, bath, reading, cuddles etc was a quiet time.A time made quiet by the routine of cuddles and reading etc. Oh God, just reading this back makes me sound so strict – it took some getting used to (by me as much as Xanthe), but it worked and she is now a well balanced 19 year old and I have followed it through with her siblings ok. Of course your Squidge has had a different kind of couple of years. I suppose what I’m saying is that – at some point (and this point will occur at another different time with you) – I was felt reassured enough to, had permission to let my baby daughter cry for short periods. And she learnt that I loved her and there was lots of time for love, but night-time was the time for quiet and stillness. Being on her own in her cot in her room did NOT mean that she was unloved or that I was absent and that’s a valuable thing to learn.It took a relatively short time to establish, once I decided to go for it. Good luck x

  2. Little Sis July 24, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    This is why dogs are better, they sleep all the time! Seriously though, what a bit of a shitter, tomorrow will be better! At least you didn’t get smacked in the face with a rock hard ball, bruising tomorrow!!

  3. Louise July 25, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Really enjoying reading your blog. I am going down foster or adoption route shortly so its interesting.

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