Here we are ready to take care of Little Princess (age 4) and Little Ninja (age 3) while Mom and Dad take a Big Vacation for 6 days. Papa and I called in the troops – Grandpa Ken (Andrew’s Dad) and Grandma Theresa are coming down for the 6 days too. They will stay in the Little House. Yes, it takes 4 of us to take care of the little ones. We take the day shift and Grandpa and Grandma take the night shift.
After all, Papa and I (great grandparents) need our sleep at night and Little Ninja has always had sleep problems. So Grandpa and Grandma take Little Ninja back to the Little House to sleep in her own room at night. Well, if you want to call it sleep. Her sleep patterns are very irregular. Even as a 1 year old, she would only sleep for 4 hours at the most, then up for 5 or 6 hours. With two girls only 11 months apart and both on the autism spectrum, Mom and Dad have had to adjust their sleep patterns too. When Dad got home from work, Mom had the opportunity to take a nap, and Dad’s shift began. We all hoped that as Little Ninja got older she would outgrow those sleep patterns. Now, even if she is up all day with her Parent Infant Program class starting at 9 a. m. to 10, then preschool from getting on the bus at noon and getting home at 4:30, she still varies each night with different sleep patterns.
The first night of vacation, Little Ninja didn’t go to sleep until 3 a.m. Grandpa had to put the gates in the bedroom doorway and laid down with her until she fell asleep. She was good and played nice just didn’t want to sleep. The next day was Sat., no school, but Grandpa still got her up at 9 the next morning, thinking if she stayed up and played all day, she would sleep better the next night. Well, Saturday night was even more interesting.
Little Princess sleeps at our house in the special room that we set up for the girls. She is a good sleeper and will go to bed at 9 and stay asleep until she is awakened to go to preschool. (You can see a video showing the room in Respite Care 1 Home Safety). Grandpa and Grandma took her to the Little House after dinner so she would also have the opportunity to play in her room. Little Princess feel asleep early while she was there, so Grandpa decided he would keep both girls Sat night since there was no school on Sunday. He also thought Little Ninja would go to sleep at a reasonable time since she had so little sleep the day before. WRONG!! The girls share a bedroom. They have very nice bunk beds with a staircase to the upper bunk which also has the guard rails around it. Little Princess has the upper and Little Ninja the lower bunk. Grandpa put Little Ninja into bed at 10 p.m. (early for her) thinking he was going to get a restful night. Then disaster struck. Little Ninja wasn’t about to go to sleep that early, she climbed up the bunk bed stairs and woke up Little Princess for play time. Unfortunately, Papa and I had already gone to bed. So Grandpa had another night of staying up until 4 a.m. with both girls having all kinds of fun. Luckily for him, he could nap during the day, while we watched the girls.
All of us try to do the normal things that the Autism web sites recommend.
- Bath before bed
- Baby Bedtime Lotion for relaxation
- Quite time
- Little day time naps
- Following the same bedtime routine
- Soft singing to sleep
The fact remains with Little Ninja, you just have to put her in her room, tell her it is bedtime, turn out the lights, and let her play herself to sleep. You also keep your fingers crossed that she doesn’t wake up Little Princess in the process.
All I can say is BIG CADOOOS to Mom and Dad for their loving care of these two special girls and handling the daily challenges. They deserve to get away and have some fun knowing their precious children are being well cared for and in a safe environment.
Comments welcome if you have come up with some helpful tips that can help Little Ninja and her sleep problems. (note: melatonin or medication is not an option at this time).