As my children have got older, we've more or less reclaimed our evenings and the small hours of the night now serve only for sound sleep. But not too long ago it was a very different story and the memories of those long, dark soul destroying nights etched their name in my very being forever! My eldest barely slept a full night until he was 10 months old and was sporadic for the next year, and youngest son had colic and milk intolerance which led to many a pain-filled night so I have served my time and felt the full force of lack of sleep first hand.
Those memories kick back in hard on the odd occasion I'm woken by one of the children needing to get up to go to the toilet, feeling thirsty or if they simply need a cuddle. I'm in momentary parental panic mode once more at the thought of losing my zzzz's! Sleepy confusion grips me and it feels like I'm back in the zone where an hours sleep felt like a gift from God. Thankfully, these moments pass quickly now and with the midnight snuggle done and little ones both tucked back up in bed, normality is quickly restored and slumber resumes.
Not so for zillions of nightwalkers all around the world, pounding the carpet with tiny bundles bawling their eyes out with colic/reflux/hyperactivity/allergy to sleep wondering when (or if!) relief will ever come. Or attempting the 'rapid return' method for the 100th time with a feisty toddler who just refuses to stay in their own bed. How about stroking the hair of a snuffly, bunged up baby for hours on end who just cant catch a break for a fitful sleep no matter what? Worse still, the curse of the cough hits you like a truck when your child ends up throwing up due to incessant, unmanageable hacking, always magnified tenfold in the wee small hours. Probably the most frustrating moment possible is when your child FINALLY - THANK YOU GOD - settles after hours of rocking, stroking, soothing, you gently as a feather place them back in bed and you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, when their eyes snap back open at the loss of their snuggly cocoon and then the vicious circle begins all over again.
At toddler group this week, I spoke to probably a dozen or so mums and more than half of them were lamenting being trapped in the grip of 'mothers ruin'. Capable, sassy, multitasking women, kicking the ass of motherhood on a daily basis, but being slowly strangled by the stresses brought on by sleep deprivation!It's well known that it is a proven form of torture but what have us parents done to deserve it? Obviously parenting doesn't end at 7pm but Jeez, 24 hours straight TLC is enough to challenge the strongest of resolves!
Did we really sign up for this? Why are nights so long? Why do men (sorry guys!) in the main, sleep heavier and hear less of our children's nocturnal needs than us girls? When will it go away???? Will it actually go away? What if we never sleep through again?
I have no magic wand, no fail-safe advice as every home has its own nocturnal challenges and they all have a plethora of possible remedies. We all know about bedtime routines, massage, cranial osteopaths, sleep manuals etc etc. Time is the best solution as everything ends sometime, so one day, slumber will inevitably come to you, I can promise that at least.
I wish for you all the gift of silence and peace in the twilight tonight, because I know from experience that one shift of 8 straight hours sleep can have the effect of a spa day, a girlie night in and a milestone birthday, all rolled into one.
Give a girl a night's sleep and she can conquer the world!
As I'm writing this, Dominic has a temperature and has had me up and down the stairs all night soothing him (not a problem, it's my job!) but as the hours pass, I know I'm in for a long shift tonight...wish me luck!
How do you handle the night time shift? Lets share the strain and offer up some solutions!