Sleep’s got to be right up there as one of the, if not the, most talked about topics by parents across the land. At one stage, ‘how’s he/she sleeping?’ was the first question on my lips as I heaved my over-loaded pushchair into a cafe to sit and gulp down strong coffee with a group of other over-tired mums. That stage seemed to last for a while, as I’ve already written about.
It does get better (as I’d reassure my former sleep-deprived self if I could), but then there are lapses. And they seem to hit you as hard as ever. For three out of the last four nights, the 22 month-old Scrip has woken up calling out for Mummy and Daddy and won’t go back to sleep unless we lay her down with us. Instead she’ll get more and more worked up and agitated.
I’ve always been careful to physically and mentally separate her bed from ours, and to try and comfort her outside of our room if possible. I’ve heard so many stories of little ones taking over their parents’ beds and rooms each night and this carrying on far into school age, and I’ve been determined that we’re not going to let that happen. We’ve never done co-sleeping – at least past her being about four months – and I’ve always been keen to make sure she’s comfortable and happy in her own cot, in her own room.
Sleep isn’t a punishment for her – we never threaten to send her to bed if she’s naughty. I want it to have good associations. And she’s generally brilliant at going to bed, falling asleep quickly and staying asleep. But I understand things change and little ones grow up and start having bad dreams or feeling uncomfortable in bed, and they need a bit of comfort in the night. I know it’s all part of the territory.
But somehow, we’ve slipped into the habit of taking her into our room to comfort her, and then all falling asleep together, and she’s started to expect that. Last night, as I went into see a sobbing Scrip at midnight she immediately asked to go ‘upstairs’ (where our room is). I instead took her into the sitting room, we gave her cuddles, warm milk, a back and tummy rub in case it was wind and soothing words. Then tried to put her back down, but she wouldn’t settle.
Having sent my husband to bed, as he is working today, I tried and re-tried until about 3am this morning, when I was exhausted and gave up, and took her upstairs. She dropped off straight away. I slept too, but not as well with her there as I’m more anxious.
So once again this morning, I picked up my phone and with tired eyes sought out sleeping advice from Dr Google, but this time, for almost-two year-olds. I know there are parents out there who have it far worse than we do – and I’m very grateful that this is unusual for us. But it’s still hard to function on 3 1/2 hours of sleep.
We’ll see what happens tonight – maybe it will all be fine or maybe it will happen again. At least I know that I can get through the day with some strong coffee and a walk in the fresh air. And I also know I’m certainly not the only one. Here’s to a great New Year, and a very early night tonight.