Did you babysit as a teenager? I didn’t. I had very little interaction with babies and small children before we started having our own. There was a lot I didn’t know and a real steep learning curve. I assumed that after a while I would go back to my usual sleep routine…but I was wrong.
Infants: Depending on age and type of feeding chosen newborns require feeding every two to four hours. That does not stop at bedtime. If the baby is bottle fed it is possible to switch off so that a reasonable amount of sleep is had by all…technically. Reality doesn’t always work that way. You will have plenty of times when both of you are up.
Sick Children: A sick child may sleep more but that does not translate to the parents. Worry will keep you awake and prod you into checking to make sure everything is still fine. Some illnesses, particularly coughs or stomach bugs won’t allow anyone to sleep. We went through a few rounds of this.
Ah, Sleep…but Wait: We didn’t have this problem but it does happen. Teenagers don’t always follow curfew rules and I am aware that the parent(s) will be pacing the floor until the door opens. I’ve been told that every possible scenario of said child in trouble runs through the mind. When the teen returns, the parent is so primed with fear an argument is almost inevitable.
Eldercare: Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the bed, elderecare can come up. There are a lot of reasons for sleepless nights and we’ve experienced most of them. Our experiences come primarily from an elder with dementia…other experiences may differ.
Illness: We’ve sat in the emergency room with our elder on more than one occasion and usually late into the night. It’s scary because we don’t always understand what’s going on. The times we do know what’s going on are hard because most of the time the outcome could have been fatal. (Thankfully they weren’t…)
Fear: This can be fear on our part or fear on our elder’s part. We fear the future. Will we be able to provide what’s needed? Will we have enough money to pay for care? How will she handle changes that are necessary? These questions can and have kept us awake at night.
Before we had 24/7 care for our elder I spent many nights at her house. I felt like I was sleeping with one eye and one ear open…exactly like when the children were babies. I would get up to check on her three or four times a night.
On our elder’s part there isn’t so much fear of death. We are Christians and she knows she is going to God. That’s exactly how she words it. It isn’t death; it’s the part that comes before. Will it hurt? Will she lose all of her memory? Will she linger a long time neither here or there? Sometimes she needs a hand to hold.
Payback: This is actually funny in a way. When she’s mad at one of us and we’re staying with her overnight she will turn her television up and leave it on all night long. The reason it’s funny is because I am usually who she’s mad at and I have ear plugs. The TV doesn’t bother me…it does bother the neighbors and the caregivers but I sleep right through it.
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that a good night’s sleep is something to treasure when it happens but not necessarily one to expect. In the meantime, naps come in very handy.