Watching children sleep every parent feels a profound upsurge of pure love.
They look angelic, they are quiet. You remember that you like being a parent; savour the memory, you croon, and think you should have more. They smell like gummy bears and warm milk. Then, they move in their sleep and you think, ‘oh god no please don’t wake up you little bugger.’
From birth to 19 months my son woke every 90 minutes. I am not flip-flopping with you. I cried more than him.
It was sometimes a blissfully brief stir, to check I was still devoted and gritty eyed besides the cot. He would feed, sigh victoriously and doze back off. Other times all toys needed to be evicted from the toy box. Or the apocalypse would happen if we didn’t go check that Mr Tumble was still on Cbeebies.
I almost took out a mother who told me her two week old slept for 8 hours a night. Sometimes I don’t like my child.
Why do they wake so much? To be sick again or think about being sick?
From 2 -3 he would wake 3-4 times to leave disgusting squishy surprises by the side of the bed. From three it would be once, but sustained between 3-5am. It seems sleep is actually a critical element to human existence. I was exhausted, often hysterical. Don’t Google your symptoms. I considered leaving him on the number 6 bus. One night I watched an entire series of Criminal Minds and then felt the need to lock all my windows.
Tired is what you write on forms where ‘name’ should be.
I would attempt to tire him out before bed. Essentially this just makes your little one as hyper as if you had fed them a lorry full of Smarties. You think you can keep them up later so they will sleep in. Incorrect. Welcome to 4am! If 90% of life is you in pyjamas you will survive and you are doing an awesome job. Advice you get will be contradictory. Pick what works for you.
Some tips that helped me cope with sleep deprivation (as well as coffee!)
Try not to overly beat yourself up on not creating bad habits when they are new-born. Put something of yours where they sleep, pick soft blankets, use a sleep sack and pick a tog that best suits the time of year. Dream feed. Don’t keep all the exciting shiny toys in the cot; no one wants to nap when Mr Octopus is around. Keep days light and nights dark so they can start to notice the difference. If your baby goes to a childminder are they letting them sleep to much? Why not check out our tips on choosing the perfect type of childcare for your family.
Have a loose routine. Have you though about trying yoga with your toddler? Bath with calm music, lavender body cream, read together, a glass of warm milk. Look at signs for tiredness, rubbing eyes etc and lie them in bed before they are asleep. Toddler day naps are important, overtiredness reduces quality of sleep. The dreaded move from cot to big bed. Buy a rail, the little monkeys replicate Cirque du Soleil in their sleep. I put my nursing pillow in to cuddle. My boy got less upset with a nightlight. I was saved by the Midnight Mother club.
I never managed the cry it out technique and enjoyed co-sleeping with my son. It was hard to get him out of my bed though! Consider if the bedroom is too stimulating for the child, we have a gallery wall for our daughter and she used to spend hours talking to the bear picture! I brought a Gro-clock and make sure there is no TV before bed. My nightly speech is;
‘You are not too hot. Or to cold. You have drank three litres of apple juice already. You can’t have a jam sandwich now. Spiderman is not talking to loud. There is no ghost in the cupboard. Liar.’
Has anyone else got any tips they want to share? Or particularly hilarious things they have done whilst child induced sleep deprived?
P.S. Leo and Norah my darlings. Loves of my life. One day you will hit 13, and then I will get my revenge. It’s called ‘early morning paper round’.
If you liked this post and want to know some of our recommended night-time reads check out our post Reading, for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Try having a baby and two teenagers. When the baby wakes up, the teens go to sleep. When you get to the teenage phase, you learn to sleep with one eye open. So you never really get much shut-eye.
You have all my sympathy! I don’t know how I would cope with that! You need cake, and coffee then more cake!!xx
Try having a baby and two teenagers. When the baby wakes up, the teens go to sleep. When you get to the teenage phase, you learn to sleep with one eye open. So never really get much shut-eye.
Love this – and I can definitely relate! My 4 yr old has never been a great sleeper and my 2 yr old started out as one – that didn’t last – and you just have to do what you have to do to survive. I too am planning my revenge, it involves a lot of VERY loud 6am Dolly Parton along with a bit of early morning hovering……just give it ten years xx #FamilyFun
…HAHA 9-5…Jolene…I am totally going to do the same.xx
Great read! As soon as Little Buttons was a few weeks old I threw the rule book out the window and just went with what seemed right at the time. She’s a full out threenager and strangely won’t sleep Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights – the rest of the week she’s mainly tucked up in bed by 8pm without too much of a problem. Strange! #FamilyFun
Haha threenager…Wow at least she is selective with her lack of sleep 🙂 Those are a good choice of nights!Thank you for the comment xx
A lack of sleep will simply begin to drive you nuts and the thing is some kids never sleep properly (don’t get scared now!) Parents need sleep too – here’s a few things to do if you get desperate #FamilyFun http://rainbowsaretoobeautiful.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/5-ways-to-get-more-sleep-when-you-have.html?m=1
Ah thank you for the link and the lovely comment I will definitely have a look at that now! I need all the tips I can get!xx
We had a gro clock too and still use it with little man so he doesn’t wake us too early – doesn’t really work but I don’t really mind the cuddles either. Lack of sleep is a nightmare and I’ve seen the Go the F### to sleep book – hilarious! TY for linking up to #FamilyFun ?
You are welcome lovely its a fab linky!I love a good cuddle. My little one hides under the covers on school days but is up with the sun at weekends…funny that!x
It’s so easy to let the sleep drive you insane…I used to be tired but also mostly anxious that I wasn’t doing it ‘right’. I feel really sorry for that person now, why didn’t I have more confidence in myself and my child! We have a lot of night time hustle and I’m a right grump about it but I don’t stress anymore. Unbelievably he accepts a mattress on our floor as a suitable place to move to…he just wants to be close to us and why not…we like to sleep with people we love more than alone (as long as that person isn’t kicking you in the back all night). Yes to night lights! It’s like dungeness B in his room now! Lovely post, as ever #familyfun
Thank you for such a lovely comment1 I used to obsess about it, then I got to a point when I was like he can co sleep when he wants, I was single so it didn’t put any one out. Your LO sounds very adaptable! Now days Leo sleeps in his own bed and every now and again has little mummy come here moments but things are so much simpler!x
As parent we get so caught up in the whole sleep thing. We want to do it right. everyone asks “is he sleeping for you?”, or “is he sleeping through the night?” I have had 4 kids and they are all different. The more kids I had the less I insisted on following the rule book. Parenting has to work for both the child and the parents. With my first I remember hanging off the door handle in an attempt to stop the child coming out of his room. Both were crying. Him on the other side of the door, me in the hall. It was stressful. In the end I gave up…or I chose whats more natural and what works for us. We are co sleeping. My poor husband has done everything imaginable. slept on the floor with only a coat as a duvet for nights on end. all for a bit of peace and sleep. My now 9 year old started sleeping in his own bed when he was 5. My 3 and 5 year old are now finally staying in their beds (thank you Gro Clock) and might only come in the odd night looking for a cuddle. And my 1 year old still sleeps with us. I always tell myself, its going to be forever. they grow up so fast, and i love sleeping with them as much as they love the cuddles. no point in stressing about the sleep thing too much.
I think this is a fab post, I spend most of my sons early years panicking that he did not have a routine, that he was not sleeping enough that I was doing something wrong. Bugger it do what you can to both sleep and survive and make sure they are not in your bed at 18..ps 4, you are my hero!xx