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Teaching my boys to sleep

Rachel: With having another baby arriving in a few months, there is suddenly a lot of pressure to “teach” Roo to sleep through the night. I’ve been thinking a lot about how possible it is to teach that in a non distressing way, that won’t disturb Noah, who shares a room with Roo when they are not in our bed.

I figured I’d think about my own sleep, so I could work out how I do it, so I can try and teach that to Roo. I think I’ve simply discovered that we expect far too much from such tiny people…

1. I don’t have a routine.

I don’t go to bed at the same time every night, I’m simply not tired at the same time every night. It depends on the sort of day I’ve had.

Sometimes I’m exhausted and go to sleep at the same time as the kids. Other days I’m tired, but have so much on my mind that it’s hard to switch off. Sometimes I’m just not tired, so I stay up till I am.

So why do I expect my boys to sleep on demand at the same time, when I can’t do it?

2. I wake up in the night.

Sometimes I need a drink. Sometimes the toilet. Sometimes I’m too warm, so kick off the duvet. Sometimes I’m cold, so I find an extra blanket. Sometimes I’ve heard a noise. Sometimes I’ve had a dream that’s woken me up. Sometimes I don’t know why I woke up.

But I am able to stop myself “fully” waking, I am physically able to fix the problem on my own, roll over and be sleeping again within minutes. The boys aren’t necessarily physically able to do all of those things on their own.

Which brings me to 3.

3.  Feeling safe.

Even if they are physically able to roll over or fix their own duvet, it can still be a bit scary waking alone and being unsure why you woke up. They are not quite mentally able to deal with that on their own yet.

Sometimes all you need is a hug and to feel safe. I definitely sleep better when Tom is home, as I feel much safer, so it stands to reason they feel safer in my bed than on their own. Or at least with settling them back to sleep in their own rooms.

4. Early waking!

My boys are early wakers. No matter what kind of night we have had, no matter what time they go to sleep, they wake early.

Can I expect them to just go to sleep till I’m done sleeping? No!

If I wake up early, it’s because my body has told me I’m done, and I’m not tired any more. Many a time (okay so probably not many, but it’s happened, and happens a lot more to Tom!) I have woken up early having planned a sleep in, and I just cannot go back to sleep, even if I feel I “need” it!

You can’t force yourself to sleep. I’ve tried! So I really don’t think I can try force the boys to sleep in later.

5. Sleep is instinctive.

I figure that sleep is instinctive.  Babies sleep the way they do because it’s how they have been programmed to survive, and being able to sort themselves out and get back to sleep without me will come with time, and can’t be forced.

So I’m going to cherish those night time snuggles as much as I can.

I’m going to remember that they won’t last forever, and attempt to savour them.

And one day, they will wake up, sort the reason out themselves, and settle themselves back to sleep without me. And that will be a day of mixed emotions.

I’ll be proud of them for growing up so much, and a little sad that they need me that little bit less.

It’s going to be hard work, of course it is, but after all, parenting is a 24 hour job!

– Rachel