Sleep. I was thinking about the last time I got to sleep through the night, it was about 2…no…3 years ago? Seriously you guys, I haven’t gotten to sleep an entire night without at least one wake up in three years. It’s silly to obsess over, really. But it’s the kind of thing that you don’t even think about until you’re not getting it. Kind of like chocolate, or a paycheck. Just kidding I don’t get one of those either.
My daughter was, and still is, a terrible sleeper. I had always heard about these magical babies that slept through the night after a few months and stayed swaddled in their bassinets until it was time to smoothly transition to the crib. Not sure what far-away land they came from, but it wasn’t the same place as my daughter. Truly, I never knew what it felt like to be rested until my son came into this world when my daughter was nearly 2-years-old. Daddy took over her night time wake ups, so I could focus on the newest bundle of joy. Sure, I still woke in the night with him, but it was a couple times, not six.
People would remind me not to co-sleep because I would have life-long bed babies. And so far, that was true with my daughter. But dang it if my son wasn’t the cutest happiest baby. How could I not co-sleep with him too?! Both of my kiddos are cuddle bugs, but they couldn’t be more different when it comes to their sleeping habits. My son usually enjoys a good boob, cuddled to sleep, and then it’s hands off so he can roll to his belly and sleep on his own. My daughter needed to rub my arm a certain way, listen to a specific song on her sleep sheep, cover with JUST the right amount of blankets, perform 3 minutes of a traditional Native American rain dance, and chant naked around a fire and then, ONLY THEN would she maybe possibly fall asleep. It. Was. Rough. And it still is 2.5 years later. But I have found some things that have worked through the last couple years.
- Get a good sound machine. During our sprinkle for my second pregnancy we were gifted a sleep sheep. My daughter found this among the gifts and claimed it as her own. Out of the eight song possibilities, only one of them works. But it works! It drowns out all of the city noise, any obnoxious neighbor, and helps her tune out the dreaded fireworks season.
- A big girl bed! My daughter and I shopped online for her very own toddler bed. At the time, the crib was going to the new baby and she needed a new bed anyway. I gave her a couple options and she chose from those and was proud of it the minute it arrived. This made bedtime exciting because not only did she have her own bed, it was just like mama’s! It also helped that she had some wicked sweet toddler bedding.
- A weighted blanket. The jury is still out on this one if it truly works. For some people, I think it can work wonders, and for other people I think it’s just the current fad. I refused to spend $100 on a blanket full of plastic beads so I decided to make my own. Together we found some fun pattern flannel, unicorns of course, and I went to work. I think this works because it helps with her restlessness. Only my kid could go to sleep laying one way and wake up with her head on the opposite end. She is a mover.
- The trusty night time partner. We call him nuh-night cow and have adopted him as one of our own. It’s a small cow stuffed animal full of lavender beads that we put in the microwave every night to make him warm and cozy. Pretty simple. Pretty dang important. She also has an entire village of other animals that rotate in and out of her bed at night. Curious George seems to be a frequent flyer.
- And finally a good night time routine. I learned that the nights her routine was off were the same nights she would wake up six times. So we found a routine that worked and we stick to it as close as we can. Bath at 7:30, brush hair and teeth, jammies on, warm up nuh-night cow, pick out three books, Mom tucks in, Dad reads books. Asleep by 8:30 (on a good night).
When I find myself extra sleepy from a particularly restless night, I throw the kiddos into the car (yes, sometimes still in their pajamas) and run through the Starbucks drive through. A venti is a perfect pep talk to make it through a tiresome day. I make sure to remind myself that this stage won’t last forever, and there will come a day my babies won’t need me as much. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but it’s not like my daughter will be 20 and still trying to crawl into my bed at night right? This is just another season of motherhood and, with my Americano in hand, I will survive!
I wish you all the luck in finding what works for you. My best advice? Forget the silly Do’s and Don’t’s everyone and their mother give you. Instead, do what works best for you and your kid. Nobody else matters. The “rules” of parenting aren’t a thing; society has put unrealistic expectations on parents and their ability to raise perfect kids. I ate dirt and I’m doing great. I see you sleepy mama, and I salute you.