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'Comment Mania!' Contest: Let Sleeping Kids Lie

I learned early in my parenting journey that dealing with a cranky, overtired child is no fun and I do my best to avoid it. That means that bedtime and naps are a priority at our house. Even so, finding sleep routines that work for everyone in the family and sticking to a schedule can be tough. Getting some kids to fall asleep can be even tougher.

As if that weren't enough, we have to deal with a host of ever changing sleep challenges. Teething. Weaning. Transitioning to new beds. Adjusting to new siblings. Separation anxiety. Vacations. Day light savings time. And these are just the regular, run of the mill complications.

I still remember the first time my neighbor decided to mow his lawn at 7 p.m., the summer after my daughter was born. Adelaide was a couple of months old and she had just fallen asleep. I don't know if it was my own sleep deprivation or those wacky postpartum hormones, but some kind of mother bear instinct kicked in and it was all I could do not to run outside and scream "Don't you know there's a baby sleeping in here?" Actually, I think it was my husband who stopped me. He says I'm lucky he was home. Four years later, I still say that neighbor is the lucky one.

I know that interrupted sleep is part of life, especially when you're a parent. I can take the occasional thunderstorm and stomach bug in stride. They come with the territory. What drives me crazy are the unnecessary outside forces over which I have no control.

Apparently, I'm not alone. My friend Beth used to have a sign taped by her doorbell that read, "Do not ring between 1 and 3 p.m." When I first saw the sign, I didn't "get it." Then she explained that, unlike my two children, both of her boys napped at the same time everyday. After this revelation, the sign made complete sense. She didn't want their afternoon slumber to be interrupted by her pesky neighbor. It also explained how she had time for a craft room and why her hair was always clean.

Now, my two preschoolers are finally napping at the same time -- as in sleeping simultaneously. If I could just get them to sleep at the same time of day, each day, I would put a sign by my door, too. Until then, the UPS man should just consider himself lucky he's never woken up my children.

These days, the biggest (and loudest) road block to sound sleep at our house comes once a week. Every Monday. Very early. In the form of a big, brown trash truck. It wasn't a real problem until my son, Heath, became obsessed with garbage trucks. I actually remember a time when both kids would roll over and go back to sleep after the squeaking of breaks and clanking of cans subsided. Now, they jump out of bed and race to the window at the first, distant rumble of that rusty rubbish collector, yelling "It's coming! It's coming! The garbage truck is coming!"

Some weeks, the truck only wakes up one of my children. If I can keep that child quiet enough to avoid waking up the sleeping sibling, I consider myself lucky. If I'm really lucky, we watch silently from the window and then go back to sleep. Most weeks, both kids are up at 6:09 a.m.

On a recent Monday morning, I found myself standing in the hall between the kids' rooms, fingers crossed, listening to the garbage truck approaching. Moments before, I had clicked on the air conditioner and turned on a fan in a nearby room, in a lame attempt to drown out the noise. I had to chuckle at myself as I stood in the dark, waiting to whisk a child to a faraway window, hoping all the while for a Monday miracle and wondering why that old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie doesn't apply to children.

Now, I'm thinking about writing a letter to the county refuse department or maybe the police department. Isn't there a law against this? If not, maybe I'll write my legislator

How about you? What keeps your kids up and how do you cope?

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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