When Squeak started waking every 30-60 minutes for a few months I felt like I had been hit by a truck. It was only when I collapsed at home one morning and spent the day in A&E that I realised I wasn’t dealing well with the situation.

You see, I expected babies sleep at night before the first waking to look like this:

This meant I was in complete denial, keeping my fingers crossed that THIS would be the night Squeak finally slept longer.

Instead, Squeak’s sleep has looked like this:


Once I realised I had to be more proactive in ensuring I got some rest I made some vital changes to make my life more manageable.

1. Seriously, stop with the housework. 

Nobody needs you to have a home with neatly folded clothes, all kitchen utensils freshly washed and stored in their cupboards, or even hoovered carpets. My priority list had been:

  • attend to Squeak’s needs
  • attend to housework
  • attend to myself

This meant I often wasn’t eating anything until mid morning as I flew around, balancing chores with feeding/changing/playing with Squeak. I had to consciously revisit my priority list and put myself joint first with Squeak, eating breakfast together, bathing together and getting dressed together.

If necessary, buy disposable plates and cups. Treat yourself to no washing up until sleep improves. Don’t even look at the iron. In fact, throw it away.

2. PUT DOWN THE COFFEE

Coffee is great if you didn’t get a great nights sleep or need a little pick me up. It’s a total disaster if you’re barely sleeping at all. I’d find myself twitchy with despair as Squeak surprised me with a two hour nap shortly after getting out of bed. Yet that damn coffee meant even though I was crying tears of exhaustion I just couldn’t get myself to back to sleep.

Forget the caffeine, forget the sugary drinks, drink lots and lots and lots of water.

3. Create a restful sleep environment

I don’t know why it took me so long to do this. Installing black out blinds, regularly opening windows for fresh air, keeping bedrooms at a constant warm temperature, all meant when we did sleep, it was a much better quality of sleep.

4. Sleep when the baby sleeps

This piece of obvious advice still makes me want to smack someone in the face. Bear with me.

Once you’ve forgone the housework and stopped propping yourself up with stimulants, you must prepare yourself for slumber at any minute. As soon as baby nods off, that’s exactly what you’re going to do too.

I began to enjoy having a shower in the morning then putting clean pyjamas on, making sure I was always ready for bed.

5. Socialise at home

Being ready for bed at all times meant I was incredibly unsocial. I stopped going out. I stopped going to baby groups.

Know this is only for a short while and that you will resume an outside life very soon.

6. Discover your own self soothing requirements

As we all know, babies can struggle to fall asleep and we put so much energy into finding out how to make them comfortable. I had fallen out of my own routine and struggled to sleep when the opportunity arose. I realised I had forgotten how to self soothe!

I stopped putting pressure on myself to sleep and focussed instead on breathing techniques whilst listening to audiobooks read by my favourite voices and authors, concentrating on every word. I recommend Neil Gaiman as a particularly soothing voice with particularly wonderful stories.

Also, that thing about children having a nice warm drink before bedtime works for grown ups too. A lovely comforting mug of warm milk is an absolute treat.

7. Go to the doctor

I was totally focused on Squeak’s sleep needs and didn’t realise I had become anaemic which was contributing towards my fatigue. Don’t assume your exhaustion is entirely to do with regular night wakings. Sorting out my iron levels meant I was able to function again.

8. Mop up sleep during the good times

I fell victim to proclaiming success as soon as Squeak’s sleep improved and immediately went back to my slovenly ways of staying up late on the internet only to end up bemused when things changed. I’ve learnt to use these good periods to fully recharge on sleep. I will never, ever again take sleep for granted. It’s still my number one goal even though Squeak is reliably sleeping again.

I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a mum who has to go back to work or has other commitments because some of my advice is only operable for a stay at home mum. I wonder how I would have coped with a full time job or other children. I like to think Mr Wawa and I would have managed nights together but I’m not sure if that would have been enough. I don’t think society prepares people for the real struggles that parenthood presents. There seems to be an assumption that motherhood is easy and somehow belongs alongside doing the dishes.

The patience and self sacrifice are brutally real, but I promise you, the wind will change and you shall sleep again.

 

Pink Pear Bear
DomesticatedMomster

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17 thoughts on “How to cope when your baby doesn’t sleep….

    1. Thanks Barb! It’s so common but often takes something drastic for mum to realise what the problem really is – I fainted and ended up in hospital!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Second time around, you know it’s only temporary, so you know you can cope. I can cope unless I think about how disturbed our nights have been… then I want to cry!
    I love the idea of showering and getting dressed into your pajamas, makes total sense to do it when you can. #BigPinkLink

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Naomi! And very good to know it’s more manageable with the second. Ice genuinely been wondering whether I can bear going through it again 😁

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  2. I could have written this! I also only found out that I was anaemic when I went to give blood and got banned for a year! This is great advice. It definitely gets better with time. Still good advice to keep up. I’m rubbish at drinking enough water. Thanks for linking with us. #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I worked in childcare for 13 years and I always told my new parents to do #1 immediately. Seriously, no one is judging your house and if they are, they don’t belong in your living room anyways. There are so many demands on parents that you have to prioritize. Great post! #momsterslink

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brilliant advice! I never quite got over the shock of 4 month sleep regression, just as I had greedily snaffled up all the lovely sleep following the new born days it was cruelly snatched away from me again, but this time I was not letting it go without a battle. Love the tip about putting clean PJs on to be ready to sleep when baby does. Very well said x #Momsterslink

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh how I remember the days of very little sleep. I would live on 4 or 5 hours back then. I have never been a napped so I often found myself trying to get stuff done if they were napping. But they had all given up napping by the age of two. And by the time my first born was two I had an infant and a 1 year old so I don’t really remember having a lot of down time. Now they are 4,5, and 6 and usually sleep 10 to 12 hours a night which means I get hours to myself and still get a good 8 hours unless I myself decide to have a date night with daddy and we don’t go to bed until the wee hours of the morning. I hate those days lol. Thanks for linking up with #momsterslink and hope to see you again every Thurs-Sun!

    Liked by 1 person

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