When you become a parent for the first time, even when you fall pregnant for the first time, you never truly understand the sleep deprivation that you will be hit with until your little bundle of joy arrives. I was totally rose tinted about this and just thought my baby would sleep in the £80 crib my mum kindly bought for it (spoiler alert- she didn’t) and me and Lilly still (at 3 and a half years old) regularly co-sleep. I think I have just gotten used to this. Feeling tired all of the time, I barely ever get a full nights sleep and I am fine with that. If I’m lucky I will get a full nights sleep once a week but the rest of the week I will be up multiple times with the girls. This week has been pretty bad though, Phoebe is going through 18 month sleep regression. When Lilly when through this I actually don’t believe she came out of it..I’m hoping and praying P does!
This weekend at a fundraiser for L’s nursery one of my mummy friends asked me about the girls sleeping patterns & how on earth I coped. It made me think, I haven’t always coped! With Steve working 6 nights a week and attempting to cope alone with the girls has always been difficult but we have had to learn to get used to it. But there are things that have helped me a lot!
1. Caffeine, obviously. As long as I got a decent cuppa, I was fine!
2. Eating healthy food. I’m not going to make it out like I’m annabel karmel or anything here (I had leftover pizza for breakfast last weekend) but eating foods with iron in them i.e spinach, lentils, nuts, definitely do help with feeling really tired and give you a good kick!
3. Get to the root of the problem. If your baby is newborn,then that’s different. But if your child is like mine (NEARLY FOUR) and still not sleeping? There could be something wrong. Illness & toilet training are generally the problems in our house. Older babies and kiddies wake up for a reason, once you figure out what’s waking them it will most likely get better!
4. Routine routine routine! Setting a good routine for your baby/child is key. Little ones like to know what’s coming next, bath & bed is usually a good one. I’ve done this since Lilly was 6 weeks old and she’s actually had no problem going to bed, it’s just constant waking up that’s her problem 🙄. Experts say that it takes 3 days to make a habit and 3 days to get out of one. So if your babe is in a routine of still waking up for a bottle at 14 months, it should only take 3 nights of you not giving them one for them to then sleep through.
5. Sleep when your baby does. I often see that picture doing the rounds on Facebook being like “sleep when the baby sleeps. so will I do the washing when the baby does too? I have no time to sleep!!” Who cares what state your house is in? You’re no use to anybody if you’re ridiculously shattered. Sleep when you can!
6. Right off your mornings. Unless you’ve got to get up for the school run, appointments, or work, just don’t. Lazy mornings can be everything, there is nothing worse than having 4 hours broken sleep then having to get out of the house for 9/10 am!
7. Get a comforter. Every child is different so find something that comforts your child that isn’t necessarily you. Both of my girls have comfort blankets that they cannot sleep without, this always without doubt will help them drift off to sleep even on the most difficult nights.
8. Co-sleep (only if you want too!) there has been nights where I have been up and down 10 times with Lilly because I just can’t leave her to cry. Being up, cuddling her until she falls asleep and then the next night i can’t be arsed with that and I’ll just take her in my bed. It works great for us as we then both get a sleep. But I do know that a lot of kiddies and parents hate co-sleeping and that it’s not for everybody! Phoebe has always hated bed sharing.
9. Ask for help. Parenting is bloody hard work, and a lot of the time us mums feel so so alone, being sleep deprived can have different effects on your body and can then impact on your mental state. It can even trigger aniexy and depression. Getting your mum, dad, husband, best friend or anybody you trust to do a night shift with your baby/kids, will do you the world of good.
Eventually all children will sleep through the night or at least will stop getting you up constantly. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (or so I’ve been told!!). I now just lower my expectations and convince myself that they won’t sleep through and if they do it’s a bonus!
If you’re feeling like this or know somebody who is, tag a tired mama.