…has been sleep. My kids are 6 and 8 and we still have nightly bedtime battles.
Figuring out sleep was the hardest part of being a new parent. I had absolutely no prior experience with babies, and putting them down for so many naps a day was not easy! Then we went through sleep regressions, sleep training, short naps, early wake-ups, not sleeping through the night, and cosleeping that first year. We were constantly tired.
Year 1-2 was a little easier, although we still dealt with early morning wake-ups. We also had some regressions and had to re-sleep train, dropping from 2 naps to 1 was a month+ long process, and the more verbal he became the most requests Charlie had — like singing to him until he fell asleep. And for a long time we were holding hands with Charlie through his crib slats and would fall asleep on the floor next to him. But it was much easier than year one!
Year 2-3 was a tough year with both kids because we switched from a crib to a toddler bed. Bedtime shenanigans ensued for pretty much the entire year – getting out of bed, asking for water, asking for another story… Plus juggling the different sleep needs of an infant and an active toddler was something new we had to navigate.
Year 3-4 was the year of dropping the final nap. Sleep schedules were erratic because they were napping too long in daycare pushing their bedtime later, or because they couldn’t make it to bedtime and had a late nap. Dropping the final nap was also a months long process for both kids.
Year 5-8 is where we are now. Charlie has anxiety and nightmares, all inherited from me, which has greatly affected his sleep the past 3 years. And after they both learned to read when they were 5, they want to continue reading for hours instead of going to sleep. Sometimes Mr. Bee and I fall asleep first and wake up hours later to them still awake! Charlie is the master of fighting sleep and staying awake even if he is exhausted. Once he starts a book, he does not want to put it down until he’s finished. They also don’t attend school, so they’re just not that tired in the evenings. Being on your best behavior all day in school is exhausting after all! So now both kids have very late bedtimes. On the one hand I like it because it gives us the freedom to hang out late. On the other hand I know an earlier bedtime is better for them, and usually we are just exhausted at the end of a day to deal with bedtime shenanigans.
It’s a busy time in our lives right now with work ending at 10pm and the kids going to bed after that. The kids’ lives are nowhere near as structured as they would be if we were living in the States and I think that’s a good thing for this time in their lives. It won’t be forever, but sleep has definitely been the most frustrating, exhausting, longest ongoing parenting challenge to date.
What has been your longest ongoing parenting challenge?