I do. I medicate him! That’s shocking, isn’t it? What’s even more shocking is that I medicate him so he will go to sleep. I’m such an awful, terrible, selfish mother, aren’t I?
There. The truth is out. Judge away. Judge a lot.
Lecture me on how I should do bedtime, and ask me if I’ve tried all the recommended techniques to keep bedtime calm and sleep inducing. Talk to me in a patronizing voice about how “a warm bath helps before bed”, and “do you make sure he doesn’t have sugar or screen time?”.
Tell me I’m too soft and he’s spoiled. Patronize me by telling me that your kids don’t have a problem going to bed and sleeping. Ask me in a horrified tone of voice “is it REALLY THAT BAD that you need to drug him?” or “surely it can’t be that bad, can it, do you really have to do that?”
Remind me again of all the things we’ve tried, the books and websites I’ve poured over, the money we’ve spent on speaking to sleep “experts”. The nights when bedtime has been so hard, on top of not much sleep, that I have cried when he finally goes to sleep, or when I have got angry at myself because clearly I am the failure because I can’t get my kid to go to sleep. I mean, I am an ex nanny, ex children’s nurse, surely I should have it figured out?
Then tell me, in a round about sort of way, with a tone in your voice, that implies you are heavily judging me because yes, I medicate my kid at bedtime.
Actually, he takes a small dose of prescribed melatonin.
After getting desperate and trying everything else. I finally begged his doctor for it. I know it works and I’ve seen it used on children and adults in my job, when I was a nurse. I’ve taken it myself on occasion.
Because he is a child and melatonin is not something you can just buy here, I jumped through all the hoops to get it properly. He’s seen a pediatrician, a sleep psychologist and a special health visitor in order to get it prescribed. I could buy it from overseas as I have done for myself but it doesn’t feel right to do that, for a child and I also wanted to make sure we had done everything else before we tried it. His doctor agreed it was the best option to help him and us.
We’ve done good bedtime routines, and all of the usual stuff and on a good night, he might fall asleep at 9:30pm, sometimes it can be much, much later than that. Given that he’s up early, has a busy day and is only 7, that means he doesn’t get enough sleep. Nothing works. Believe me we have jolly well tried and bedtime varies from moderately awful to pretty damn hellish depending on how tired we all are and what kind of day or week it has been.
So yes, I medicate him. It’s not addictive, it doesn’t make him drowsy and he doesn’t wake up feeling sleepy or drugged.
It’s new to children and sleep. It’s not something that’s had a lot of trials. It is a synthetic form of the hormone we all allegedly produce when our body is telling us it’s sleep time. It’s being closely monitored and he won’t be on it forever.
But for now, I medicate my kid for bedtime and it helps him to get to sleep peacefully which is half of the huge sleep battle we have.
You want to judge me? Feel free to come over for a few nights and do bedtime with me? Sit with him whilst he gets more and more worked up and can’t settle. If he’s had a hectic or busy day or is wound up, he takes hours to calm and settle. Oh and warm baths? They just make him exited and hyped up. We don’t do bath time as a calming technique.
So feel free to judge. Look horrified. I’m kind of beyond caring. We do what works and what is best for us and him.
If you haven’t walked a mile in my shoes, you don’t get to tell me my blisters aren’t painful.
*this post was written after a particularly bad batch of sleep where we had run out of melatonin and were waiting for a new prescription. I had not one but two people make me feel incredibly judged at our choice, when I was honest with them when they asked why we were having sleep issues. I will not stop being honest, I will not stop sharing our journey. I will also not stop pointing out when people judge, and I will push back. The people who were critical got a full and frank talk from me about their opinions. I hope next time they open their mouths to judge another mother who is struggling they will think twice, shut up and just offer her coffee and a hug instead*