Yet another thing which has contributed to the overall feeling of being utterly spent, though, is the trial that the kids' bedtime has become of late. For a while we had a decent system going, where the little girl and the bino were sharing a room and would go to bed at the same time, and the little girl was remarkably patient about just getting in bed and lying quietly while the bino was coaxed (much against his will) into sleep-readiness with various cuddling, rocking, lullaby singing and whatnot. Then we switched the sleeping arrangements so that the two boys shared a room, and since the little guy is significantly older we were all right with putting the bino to bed alone, letting the little guy do some extra reading or video watching, and then quietly, sneakily tucking in the little guy after the bino had (hopefully) drifted off. Somewhere in between those two stages, the little girl would get put to bed in her own room. Like I said, it worked decently enough.
Then at some point (and I admit I may have the timeline all messed up in my brain, which is mushier than ever) the bino was fighting sleep so much he'd still be awake when it was time for the little guy to get to bed. And since the little guy's bedroom entrance did not go unnoticed, we had to let the bino climb into the bigger bed with his brother or else he'd have a hissyfit. Of course sometimes that meant they were both quickly asleep, and sometimes it meant they kept each other awake talking, playing, or fighting (or all three). But eventually the bino rejected the toddler bed altogether and would only be put down in the little guy's big bed, and even then it took a ridiculously long time. So we started letting the little guy just hang out and fall asleep in our bed in the master suite, while his baby brother took over his bed. Again, the little girl was kind of isolated from it all, for better or worse. When my wife and I were ready for bed, we'd either transfer the bino from big bed to toddler bed and transfer the little guy from our bed to his own, or we'd transfer only the little guy, tucking him in next to the bino.
Of course that state of affairs could never last, and now it's gotten to the point where the bino (who is fully in the thrall of the terrible twos, it seems) doesn't really want to go to bed at bedtime at all, and even getting to fall asleep in his big brother's bed doesn't do the trick. Now the bino wants to be in the master suite bad with his big brother, which again only works if they both actually stay quiet and calm, which is hardly guaranteed. And throw on top of that the fact that the little girl has started to feel a little bit of jealousy over these slumber parties in mommy and daddy's bed, and sometimes (but not always!) she wants to be part of them, too. An almost-seven-year-old, a four-year-old and a two-year-old all physically fit in our queen-sized bed, that's not the issue. It's one of them kicking the other, or talking too much, or whathaveyou. It can escalate into all-out chaos pretty quickly.
Of course my wife and I just want to get everyone to remain in a bed and stay relatively quiet, so that we can have a goshdarn half an hour to ourselves to sit on the couch and have an adult conversation while we watch a DVR'ed sitcom or something. Actual sleep is utterly beside the point, honestly. But even the staying put/staying quiet is too much to ask. And mainly it's the two-year-old causing all the problems. Not only does he not want to go to sleep, and not want to do it where we want him to do it, but he's only sleeping fitfully these days, randomly waking up in the middle of the night more often than not. The upside is that he can, generally, manage these wakings on his own and get himself back to sleep. The downside is that he does it by changing where he's sleeping. So, we make concessions about where he falls asleep, assuming that once he and his siblings are asleep we can rearrange bodies as we please. And, to be fair, once the little guy is down for the night, wherever we put him, he stays there. Ditto the little girl. But moving the bino while he's asleep has virtually zero impact on where we're going to find him once we all wake up.]
Case in point, last night: the bino wanted to fall asleep in the master suite with his brother. I caved immediately, but was later overruled (and rightly so) by my wife because the little guy was unable to fall asleep due to the spazzy toddler on the other side of the mattress. So my wife put the bino in the big bed in the boys' room and said goodnight. Moments later the bino was up and about in the hallway looking to appeal the decision. I scooped him up and laid down with him in the boys' room, explaining that he'd had his chance trying to sleep with his brother and since he couldn't be quiet and still he'd have to sleep in here alone. He rejected my every suggestion of bedtime singalongs and such, but he was at least horizontal and calm, so I left. He didn't do anything else noisy enough to draw attention from his parents, but sure enough when our night was drawing to a close and I went up to transfer the little guy, I found the bino right there in our bed beside him. So I transferred both boys, and my wife and I went to bed. Woke up this morning and sonofagun the little squirt was in our bed again, and I hadn't noticed at what point during the night he had even come in. I thought to myself he's like a little freaking Houdini, except in blue pajamas, so inevitably ...
... I've had this image stuck in my head all morning.
It's a phase! That's what we keep telling ourselves, and it's true. It's just a phase, a relatively benign one in the grand scheme of things. He's going through rapid cognitive development, talking a blue streak these days and learning things at pre-school and no doubt growth-spurting like mad, all of which makes his brain feel like the inside of a Magic Bullet on frappe. He prioritizes stimulation over sleep, and it shows at both ends. He'll settle down at some point, and we'll catch up on regular, full nights of rest. Maybe some time around the next Olympics.