Sleep hasn’t been my friend for many years now.
As day rolled into night, I used to be struck by a moment of fear as I wondered how many times I would be woken that evening? How many hours of sleep would (or wouldn’t) I get? Surely there was something I could do, something I could change to help my children sleep through the night? What was I doing wrong?
I have previously written about my struggles with getting my children to sleep in their own beds at night. You will see from that post that we have tried a lot of different sleep inducing techniques over the years … and I mean A LOT. But looking back on it all now I really wonder about the time I spent trying to ‘fix’ something that I ultimately didn’t have much control over.
It was only recently that my seven-year-old daughter started to consistently sleep through the night (yes, you read that right). But looking back now I honestly wonder if maybe, just maybe, regardless of how much I worried or tried so hard to fix things that we would have reached this same destination at the same point of time.
I wonder now how much precious time I have wasted, energy I have spent and tears I have shed sitting by cots and beds trying to coax my daughters off to sleep.
Oh the money I have spent on night lights, sleep clocks, relaxation music and cuddly toys, all to only make me feel like I was failing anyway.
But it’s over. I’ve decided to call a truce, ditch the sleep rules and accept what is.
It’s time to stop worrying and just let things be because I realise now it’s not worth the struggle and the stress.
I have spent too much time worrying about routines and keeping to sleep schedules. Now I want to use that time differently. I’m throwing away the sleep rule book, the expectations and going with my gut.
It seems so simple but sometimes it can be hard to follow your instincts when there are so many books, websites and people ready to pass on well meaning advice.
Yes, I may still complain about tiredness after having a sleepless night with my children. I’m only human after all.
And yes, I still worry that I’m going to create bad habits when my almost two-year-old she wakes in the middle of the night and after an hour of trying to settle her back to sleep in her cot I choose to bring her into bed with me.
But then I remember that she’s my youngest and this is the last time I’m going to experience those middle of the night snuggles. Her beautiful smell, freshly washed skin and soft pyjamas nestled in my arms. The last times I’m going to wake in the morning to see her peaceful face sleeping next to mine … because is there anything sweeter than a sleeping child?
I hope it is giving her the confidence, happiness and knowledge that she is loved and feels secure in her family.
That being said, I know if I’m unhappy with how these sleep arrangements are travelling at any point or if they are getting worse that I can always turn to some of the gentle sleep settling techniques I have used in the past. I know they can work well and make enough of a change to allow us to get the sleep we need.
I don’t want to give you advice, there’s more than enough out there already, but I do encourage you to do what feels right for you and your family. There really is no right or wrong in this situation if you just follow your instinct.
If you want to rock your child to sleep, go ahead. If you’re happy with your toddler to join you in bed in the middle of the night, enjoy those night time cuddles. If you want to follow a sleep routine and feel it works well with you and your little one, then it’s time to get started.
Of course, if you feel there is something that needs to be medically investigated then make sure you get it thoroughly checked out for your own peace of mind and your child’s health and wellbeing.
Whatever feels right and gets you a peaceful night of sleep I say.
So sleep, what do you think, can we be friends again?