Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 20 years, and we have three children under 15. He has always been a bit of a night owl, but now, in his mid-50s, he's turning into my 80-year-old father.
My husband works from 8 a.m. until 5, comes home and eats dinner and then sits on the couch. He falls asleep watching TV and then isn't tired again until midnight. He goes to bed and wakes up at 4 a.m. and can't fall asleep again, so he turns on the TV, falls asleep and is up at 7 a.m. for the day.
I don't resent him for not helping in the evenings with chores and children, but, Annie, he sleeps when the kids are awake and home from school, and they rarely get a chance to have quality time together. The biggest problem is when we go on vacation. He'll skip the naps for a day or two and then turn into a big, bad bear. He is crabby with everyone. Of course, he cannot see that this is because of his sleep patterns and blames us for making him angry.
I believe if he went to bed at 11 p.m. and woke up at 7 a.m., he would get the full eight hours he needs and would be awake when the rest of us are. He won't entertain any of my suggestions, and it makes him angry even to talk about it. It's almost as if he is cheating on me with the TV. I am raising the kids alone and feel like I am married to my father. — Help
Dear Help: It sounds as though your husband has a sleep disorder. He is tired when he gets home because he doesn't sleep sufficiently at night. So he naps. The nap tides him over until midnight, but because he's already slept a couple of hours, he isn't tired enough to sleep the rest of the night. It has become a vicious cycle that he doesn't know how to change. He may even have sleep apnea that interferes with his rest at night.
Please approach this like the medical issue it is. Suggest he speak to his doctor and get a referral to a sleep clinic.
Dear Annie: For Christmas, one of my sisters sent out a wish list for her 7-year-old son from an online retailer. Annie, the least expensive item was $35.1 barely know any of my nephews and nieces, since they live on the other side of the country, and I was planning to send gift cards. But I felt intimidated and picked something from the wish list.
I have five other nephews and nieces, not to mention my own child, my husband and my parents. I can't afford to spend that much on one child. I don't want to be stuck in this position next year. What do I do? — Cheap Aunt
Dear Aunt: A wish list is not a command. It is a suggestion. You do not have to pick anything from the list, nor do you need to spend the same amount elsewhere. Next Christmas, send your nieces and nephews what you can afford and what you wish to give them. You might even consider a gift card to their preferred online retailer so they can use it toward the purchase of one of their wish list items.
Dear Annie: My heart went out to "Grieving," the grandmother whose toddler grandson died in an accidental drowning.
I am a lifeguard. We teach a program for kids ages 9 months to 3 years called "Float for Life." This program helps children develop the reflex of keeping their heads above water. In some cases, they are even able to learn the elementary backstroke. Please tell your readers to check at their local pools for options like this. It could save many young lives. — Omaha
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
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