Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Sleep – you, me, bedroom, now!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

My bub slept all night for the first time. Hip Hooray, dance through the streets with joy. Even my toddler joined in and stayed quiet, in his bed until 7am. A delightful and very rare treat in our house.

Top of my list for Mothers Day last month was a sleep in, you know anything past 6 really. And the irony of being able to celebrate Mother’s Day meant that my darling boys woke me up. I could think of worse things than having my three favourite people in the whole world cuddled up to me in a nice warm bed. It just took me an hour or two and some coffee to see it in this light.

Sleep has been a battle in our house for nearly three years now. My first born wasn’t a great sleeper. Every stage would cause a new problem. As a newborn he was hard to settle and as a baby he was hard to keep asleep. I remember my breaking point of getting up one, two, three or four times a night came at about eight months. I resolved myself to attempt the dreaded controlled crying. I had read somewhere to not feed him at that 4.30 wake up and that should help some of the problems. So he woke up. I patted him and left. The crying started. Then it stopped. I couldn’t believe it, only a couple of minutes, really? So I fell asleep, for fifteen minutes. He was awake again. We did this for the next two hours. And then at the ‘appropriate’ time we got up. Grumpy, tired, but up. The next morning I fed him at 4.30. We all slept till 7.30.

So for the next two years I tweaked day sleeps. Short morning nap, no morning nap, rock to sleep, push in the pram to sleep, drive to sleep. But in the last few months I have had to accept that the day sleep is no longer. I can’t get him to sleep anymore, which is probably just as well because if he ever has longer than a nap in the car, he is up running around like a child possessed until nine at night and I cannot cope with that.

When my baby was born I desperately held on to the day sleep for as long as I could. But then I soon realised, they never slept at the same time and I was just too tired at night to endure the battle of going to bed. I didn’t want my energetic funny little boy to go to sleep every night crying and fighting. It made me feel like shit.

So we have learnt to let go of the daytime nap. Instead we watch some telly quietly on the couch, or give him my Iphone and go for a walk in the pram, or I buy a coffee, turn up the radio and drive out to the surf beach to check the surf. It’s half an hour of quiet time for every one and its enough to just get back on track again. What amazes me about this is that the more people I confide in with this guilty pleasure, the more I find who share in the ritual. Now I will start waving at those other mothers driving around at lunchtime with that look of bliss on their faces.

But what I didn’t understand about the lack of the day sleep until I finally let go of it was just how much slower my day could go, and not in a bad way. Instead of racing out of the house in the freezing morning with lunches packed, dragging a toddler kicking and screaming who was happy playing, so that we could get back in time for a sleep, we just stay at home playing. We go slower, take longer, walk instead of drive. We get to enjoy the best of the day outside instead of sleeping the best part away and being out in the freezing morning and dewy afternoon. It means we only need one activity instead of two and it means for once that my second child actually gets to come first. Because now it’s not all about the toddler, it gets to be about the baby. He happily sleeps for a couple of hours and if we are home for this sleep then I can play play dough or cars, or paint, or make cookies, or kick the footy with the wild child and I have both hands and all of my attention to do this.

I still get worried if friends stay here, or we go away and I have to get my children to actually go to sleep in weird places and then stay asleep without disturbing too many people. But I have to remember many of us with little children are going through exactly the same thing. Thankfully I cope okay without too much sleep, but then what choice do I have. It could be worse, I have friends who are only getting tiny little glimpses of sleep and I have no idea how they function.

One day in the years to come, we will sit and wait up for our teenagers to come home and remember these precious years with fondness.

And then we will stand outside their rooms from 6am waking them up every hour and getting enormous satisfaction out of it.

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