Last night when I laid Pookie down for bed, I paused for a moment (thanks meditation for teaching me to do that!) and reflected on how grateful I am that she:
A. Sleeps through the night, and I do mean through the night. Not what I called “through the night” at the beginning, which was a solid 5 hours. At 19-months, she currently sleeps roughly 11-12 hours straight. It’s heaven.
B. Pookie goes to sleep (at bedtime and naps) quickly. She knows the routine and when she lays down, she goes right to sleep. I understand this may change at any moment, so I’m enjoying its full amazingness as much as I can while it lasts. And I also understand that she tests “the system” occasionally. When that happens, we remind her of how it’s done, and she goes back to the routine. It’s. glorious.
I bring this up because as I bask in happiness at her great sleeping, I remember back when it was really hard and I was about to lose my sh*t.
I remember the days of teaching Pookie how to sleep and it was hard. I learned that although we all are biologically wired to sleep, we don’t naturally know how to go to sleep quickly or sleep well. Makes sense, because adults still experience sleep issues! No wonder a new little babe is confused by the whole thing.
I also greatly empathize with all my friends new on this parenthood journey that are trying to figure out how to have more sleep in their households for the sake of everyone’s health and sanity.
In our culture, we have this “I can do it myself” attitude. That is a great idea for creating independence and individualism, but I have learned that no, I can’t do it by myself. I need help from those that have come before me and there’s no shame in it. It actually feels quite brave to reach out, be vulnerable and say, “I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?”
One of the first times I reached about in desperation was back when Pookie was about 6-months old. From birth, she was so alert that she was very easily overwhelmed and overstimulated. I think this made her a little anxious too. This triple threat made it so that she did not nap for longer than 20 minutes, like ever, and at night she slept for only about 2 hours at a time.
In the beginning I was nursing, so dismal night-sleeping was expected, but by 6 months, the sleep deficient had piled up so high that I was about to crack. I felt there must be another way, actually, there had to be otherwise I was going to lose my marbles. I needed much more sleep, much less interrupted. It’s amazing how it feels like your life is falling apart when you don’t get sleep.
I had lunch with a friend during this time who had a daughter Pookie’s age and a son that just turned 3. I opened up about how hard this was. She sympathized and told me about two resources, a book and a blog, that really helped her get some more sleep in her household. Every kiddo is different, so you always recommend with the caveat that it worked for your little one, but may not for another.
As moms, you’re always ready and willing to help out another momma, but you don’t always know when someone needs help or if they want it. So we just wait silently hoping we’ll be able to help out someone the way someone helped us.
I ran home after that lunch, immediately ordered the book she suggested from Amazon (two-day shipping), and looked up the blog. These resources changed my life and I mean that in the most cliché way possible.
I learned an incredible amount about what Pookie needed from me. I gained confidence in my ability to address and remedy the situation, and I now had a plan to implement. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Things were going to be ok.
It wasn’t easy, but we committed to the plan and stuck with it. Within 3 days (THREE!!!), Pookie was napping for an hour at a time and sleeping from about 7pm-4am.
I felt like superwoman!!!
You should have seen me dancing down our stairs!! I looked like I had way too many redbulls.
I will forever be grateful to my friend for sharing those resources with me and helping me through that hard new parenthood moment. I have now passed on these resources to at least 5-6 friends and I wanted to put it up on the blog for all those that may need them!
So here they are – hopefully your key to getting some more zzzz’s:
I’d also like to throw out another resource that greatly helped me. It’s an article from Janet Lansbury. The biggest take away for me from this article was that I needed to start telling Pookie what she could expect and what I expected from her. I needed to view things from her perspective. She was going to feel a lot more comfortable if she knew what was going to happen to her before it happened, and what I was needing from her.
As an adult, I already know all the norms and routines, but little Pookie didn’t. Imagine how stressful that would be if you never knew what was going to happen to you next because you had absolutely no control over it.
As soon as I walked her through the whole upcoming event – whether it was a nap, bedtime, a lunch date, a playdate, etc. – she relaxed quite a bit in general. She starting responding well to the sleep strategies we were implementing from the book and blog.
I totally get that there are numerous resources and some people may not prefer these ones I recommended. Fair enough. What works for you, works! I’m just sharing what worked for me and I hope it helps someone out there!
Wishing for all of you, whether you have young kiddos or not, lots of restful and uninterrupted sleep! 🙂