One of the biggest challenges new parents face is lack of sleep during those first few weeks or months, sometimes possibly even years. Now if your baby is not sleeping there are loads of articles about baby not sleeping that you can research, from how to get your baby to sleep through the night, to ways to lull your baby to sleep.
There are loads of tricks and tips you will find, even hypnotic tricks to get your baby to sleep!
Now what happens if you have an experience like me where my daughter first slept through the night when she was over 3 years old? Having a child wake up every 2 hours for more than 3 years every single night without fail is incredibly painful.
I can promise you that that overwhelming tiredness of being a new mom stays with you for a very long time and not being able to catch up on your rest is not at all healthy for you.
When my daughter was 2 years old I gave birth to my son and within 3 weeks he was sleeping for longer periods than my daughter had ever achieved. By the time my son was 3 months old he was sleeping through almost every night and if he didn’t sleep through it was because my daughter’s crying was waking him up during the night.
The fact is that all babies are different. Some babies will sleep well and some will be terrible sleepers. I couldn’t believe it when my son was about 6 months old and he would often just fall asleep. Yes without any swaddling, rocking, nursing… nothing. He would sometimes get tired, close his eyes and just sleep.
With my daughter I tried everything from getting her into a routine, to researching the night terrors she was suffering from, swaddling her, rocking, white noise… you name it. Nothing was going to get this child to sleep for longer than a 2 hour stretch.
If you are experiencing this I know how exhausted and frustrated you are, I have been there. It has brought me to tears on many occasion.
If you cannot get your baby to sleep you still need to figure out a way to get some decent sleep yourself, otherwise you will be running on empty. Sleep deprivation can actually have some serious consequences.
Here are some practical things you can try to get some more sleep:
Take Turns Getting Up At Night
Now this may sound like a simple tip but it isn’t really because if you are both getting up all night every night this is going to impact you and your partner negatively. If your baby is never sleeping longer than 2 hours for an extended period of time and you take turns getting up this means neither of you will never get more than 4 hours sleep tops in one go. Yes it is nicer than 2 hours at a time but it is still not sufficient.
It may be a great idea to take turns for a whole night, so you get up all night for one night (yes painful) and the next night you get an uninterrupted sleep while your partner is on duty. In this way you are getting your full 8 hours rest every second night which will benefit you immensely.
This may be further complicated depending on who works a job and who stays at home with the baby. You may feel that the person that works a full time job is the person that needs the most sleep… but the person at home is caring for the baby all day alone. Any mother knows how tiring this can be and how accidents can happen so fast if you are day dreaming or in a daze.
Sleep In Different Rooms
If you are both sleeping in the same room you will both hear your baby or child waking up and the person having a “rest” will be disturbed. If it is your night to get up for the baby try sleeping in a spare room or the baby’s room so that your partner is not disturbed. Likewise get your partner to sleep in your baby’s room or a spare room if it is your night off and sleep with your bedroom door closed.
This will make such a difference to your sleep. My husband and I hardly slept next to each other while we were struggling with our daughter’s difficult sleeping.
Take Turns To Sleep Late On Weekends
If you and your partner have no obligations on weekends and can sleep in then take turns to sleep in late on the weekend. This is a great way to get in some extra hours of sleep.
You can also take turns to take an afternoon nap – you can get in a lot of extra sleep on the weekends in this way.
Take Turns Going To Bed Early
Babies and young children go to bed early. If you go to bed at about 8pm and your partner gets up for the baby until he goes to bed you could gain up to about 3 hours if your partner goes to bed at 11pm.
I had plenty of nights where I went to bed at the same time as my children just so I could catch up on some sleep.
Get The Grandparents In To Help
Your parents and in laws have been there and done that. Trust me they will have sympathy for you, in addition to that since they are older, chances are good they probably don’t need as much sleep as you do. Plus they can catch up on their rest at any time.
Ask them if they can take a night (or even a weekend) with your baby or child every now and then so that you and your partner can both catch up on some much needed uninterrupted sleep.
I remember that sleeping at my mother with my daughter was such a pleasure. My mom would keep my daughter in her room or she would come and fetch her from me when she heard her crying in the night. My mom would also sneak in early in the morning and take my daughter so that I could sleep late.
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps
I know this sounds simple and it is a tip that every new mother gets. However when your child is 2 years old and has a nap in the afternoon you may decide not to sleep with your child because you have so much you need to get done or perhaps you feel guilty sleeping in the afternoon.
Seriously ditch that mommy guilt and stop worrying about those chores that need to be done and get some rest every possible moment you can.
Meditate, Rest and De-stress Often
Lying down for even 5 minutes to meditate can be very refreshing and help you with your fatigue. You need to remember that your baby picks up your emotions and if you are exhausted and stressed chances are that your baby will also be tense and get upset easily.
If you are calm and rested chances are your baby will be calmer and sleep better. Using natural health supplements and vitamins from a store like CollagenPro.com will be highly beneficial for you.
Any moment you get take some time to close your eyes and rest. I did this a lot when I arrived early for an appointment or business meeting and I had a few minutes to spare. I would set a time on my phone and put my seat back in the car. A few stolen moments of rest can do wonders for you.
There were also some times when I got home and my baby had fallen asleep in the car. I knew if I took her in she would wake up so instead I would just close my eyes and sleep in the car with her until she woke up. In fact those were some of my best sleeps!
Try Your Best To Stay Patient
I am in no way saying I was successful all the time with being a patient mother when my baby was waking up all the time. I just know that the moments I was successful in staying calm and being patient with my daughter things went a lot smoother.
In all honesty there were some moments that I lost the plot completely, being so tired will do this to you. If this happens to you try not to beat yourself up and ask someone to take over from you if you can, ask for help and take it.
Have Faith This Is Not Forever
I know from experience that 3 plus years of hardly any sleep does feel forever, but it isn’t. When my daughter finally started sleeping through the night it quickly became the norm that she slept through more often than not. It was so amazing to suddenly be able to get decent sleep.
While you are stuck in that cycle of not sleeping because of your baby just always remember that it won’t last forever. There will be a time where your child will start sleeping. Yes it may be a few years if you are very unlucky, but it will happen at some stage.
I am pleased to say that our five year old daughter and three year old son both sleep through almost every single night. It is very rare that we have any night time disturbances anymore.
Something that this whole experience has taught me is that sleep really is precious. Never in my life [pre-kids] did I think I would learn to love and appreciate sleep so much.