Babies are a joy. This is the mantra you must repeat to yourself when you get up for the fifteenth time at night. Getting up because the baby needs a feed, change or because they’ve forgotten what your face looks like and need to check; all these reasons are exhausting. Utterly wonderful, but exhausting nonetheless. It’s life as a parent, but it doesn’t make it easy.
Surviving on little to no sleep can be quite devastating when you are used to a solid night and eight hours of blissful, uninterrupted dreaming. The thing is, you now have a squalling little lamb in your life, and while this new addition is wanted, loved and very much adored, the no sleep is something of a disaster. How do you function in the day time? When do you get to catch up and nap? What about other children in the house? Getting to grips with a new routine takes some time, but there are ways to help yourself through it, and it doesn’t involve a Tom and Jerry cartoon image of holding your eyelids open with matchsticks!
Get your partner to help. This is a lovely idea in theory, but if you’re on leave and your other half is at work, it’s also slightly impossible and unfair during a working week. So, take a weekend night. Let him take over for a Saturday night and give you the Sunday morning sleep. He can take Saturday. Doing it this way means after a long office-bound week he can sleep in, but then so can you on Sunday!
Nap when the baby naps. Another lovely theory, but nap time is also used for housework, eating, paying attention to the other children in the family and showering in peace. Or actually, having a half hour of quiet sitting down with coffee made with an amazing pour over method. That quiet bit of time to let your brain keep up with what you’ve got going on can be so valuable so napping then? Feels a little wasteful in the end!
Co-Sleeping. When done safely, co-sleeping can give you some sanity. If you’re breastfeeding, or have a cot that attaches to the side of the bed, it can be an absolute miracle for sleeping through the night. Babies wake up when they need their mothers, we all know that, so if they wake and see you right next to them, or they can smell you, then you will be able to reach over in your sleep almost instinctively. This gives you time to catch up!
If you are dealing with a baby suffering from colic, then the matchsticks may have to come out because a child with colic is a harder task. Sleepless nights can be really hard, and it’s true that sleep deprivation was used as a torture method during the war – now you know why.
Keep focused on that sweet little baby, though, and all those nights pacing the floor can be eased. It may feel like it, but it doesn’t last forever – promise!