Sleep advice for new parents
Marissa, mum of two, shares her wonderful story of sleep, or a lack of it…
Ahhhh, uninterrupted sleep – that blissful state that's cherished by all, but enjoyed by few new parents. Sleep deprivation is considered a violation of one's basic human rights so it's hardly surprising that a lack of sleep drives many a parent into a confused, mumbling, unwashed state of existence only rivalled by other parents of new-borns and extras from The Walking Dead.
Roughly six weeks after having our first son, now a rambunctious three year-old (and that deserves a whole different blog post!) we were convinced that unwavering allegiance to the Queen of controversy – Gina Ford – had rightfully earned us our snoozing bundle of joy and eight straight hours in the land of nod each night. Over the next two years, (and buffered by my newfound wisdom), I'd dutifully listen to long suffering friends recount horror stories of pacing the halls throughout the night, playing womb-like music and miming Twinkle, Twinkle whilst rocking a baby that still refused a night's sleep at 18 months old. At the same time as feeling genuine sympathy, I was also convinced that a smidgen of "tough love" coupled with a solid routine would get their mini insomniac back on track and provide them with some long overdue pillow love. I even committed the cardinal sin of offering our childcare manual to said distressed parents in their time of need *tuts and shakes head at self*
A different story
I'm sure you'll be thrilled to hear that the shattering of our alternate reality and my very rude awakening came in the form of our second son. After I returned from hospital I had psyched myself up for the six week battle with our unwitting trainee, but little did I know this minor battle would manifest into full scale war! Baby L did not take kindly to being coerced into sleeping and feeding according to a manual. He protested loudly and consistently when there was too much/too little sleep, when it was too early/too late for his liking, when he was being put to bed too full/too hungry, when it was too noisy/too quiet to sleep and objected daily for a sum total of six months before hubby and I managed to get a decent night's sleep again, and I'm fully aware that this is considered early for many.
Unlike our first son where I could choose to sleep when he slept (although I didn't and wished I had) and ignore household chores in favour of a nice cuppa and an hour's peace (again, didn't and wished I had) I now also had a toddler constantly demanding attention, snacks and regularly notifying me that he didn't in fact need his clothes in the supermarket and it was, quite frankly, exhausting. I remember one morning when I was asked to confirm my postal address and stood in a befuddled silence for the longest 30 seconds of my life before I could actually remember where I lived!
Now that I've made it to the other side, I felt compelled to impart my own personal brand of wisdom upon you so here goes...
Take comfort – you’re not alone
If you are unlucky enough to be sharing the wee small hours with a sleep stealer and you're wondering why your little one views your gorgeous nursery complete with its comfy new cot akin to a dirty prison cell, please don't despair as you're definitely not alone. I can wholeheartedly recommend a large stockpile of strong coffee and some really good DVD box sets for the long-haul nights, when you've given up trying to get back into bed and the Diamonique sale on QVC at 3am just isn't floating your boat.
I also advocate the use of earplugs next time your smug, well-rested friend tells you all about their smug, well-rested baby as no two children are the same and what is effective for them won't necessarily work for you. Remain strong in the knowledge that if you're planning any more children your next little nipper may well choose to take up sleeping at night as a competitive sport and if not, there's always the chance that smug well-rested friend's next baby may well become entirely nocturnal.
April 23rd 2014