Do you have a kid that just won’t sleep? Are you sitting up with them at 3AM desperately wishing that a fog of melatonin would come billowing out of your vents so that they would finally pass out and you could get some much needed shut eye?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 20 million parents a year suffer in silence (unless you count complaining on Facebook and Twitter), while their progenies wake them up every hour on the hour as some form of medieval torture.
That’s approximately 9 1/2 out of every 10 parents.
Did you like that statistic? Because my sleep deprived brain and I just made it up. And if it made you feel better for one brief moment to know that you weren’t suffering alone, well, no judgment here. It made me feel better just typing it.
We’re probably all thinking the same thing right now, what long term effect does a sleeper hold have on a toddler does it ever get better?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any more answers than you do. It’s 3AM and I am typing this on my phone next to a kid that JUST fell back asleep while clutching a cup of water. I obviously have no clue what I’m doing.
And, side bar, who is to say she will ever even sleep through the night (the undisputed Holy Grail of parenting)? I am 35 and I rarely sleep through the night. I mean, that could just be because my daughter has been systematically breaking down my will to live for the past two years, but we’ll never really know for sure.
So what I have to offer instead of words of wisdom during this sleepless cycle, are some tips for dealing with the long nights that don’t completely suck:
1/ Always keep the thermostat set at least five degrees cooler at night. The reason being while you are sitting up doing whatever it is that you do to try and get your child back down (rock/cuddle/walk/give up and just put them on the couch in front of the TV), you will find yourself filled with a deep and scalding rage that will burn with the fire of a dozen suns. You will not want the ambient temperature of the room any higher than it needs to be for this.
2/ Buy yourself that new mattress (that is if your bed is nearing, or beyond, its tenth birthday). You want it to be as comfortable as humanly possible so you can imagine how much your significant other is enjoying sleeping on it while you’re busy doing the items from number one.
3/ Make your bed each and every morning. If only because the chances of you being able to crawl back into it for a nap later in the day increase exponentially based on how much effort you put into arranging decorative pillows strategically against your head board. I can’t explain why this works, it’s just science.
4/ Put down your phone. Just kidding, what else are you going to do at 3AM while your child is training to be some sort of interrogation officer… or let’s be real, a serial killer… if not scroll through Facebook or Google the weird mole on your arm? What I’d really like to know, is what moms did before the internet? Before it was readily available on our phones, and we could sit there quietly watching cat videos on mute while trapped under the weight of a sleeping toddler who FINALLY THANK GOD JUST PASSED OUT DURING HER THIRD STRAIGHT HOUR OF ROCKING.
5/ In what can only be called a cruel twist of fate, sometimes your child will fall back asleep but it will be too late for you to go back to bed. You will already be wide awake and ready to start your day (she types with one eye open at 5AM, after having been up since 1AM). Find a quiet nighttime hobby. Then when your kid is older and regularly sleeping through the night, wake them up and make them watch you do it as punishment for all the sleepless nights they put you through.
6/ Eat cookies, you’ve earned it. You’ll need the sugar rush to keep from face planting into your wide awake kid anyway. Sure, you’ll have to eat them in the bathroom or quietly in the dark where they can’t see you, but eat the cookies. You’re a grown up, damn it.
And get yourself mentally ready, because one day your child finally will sleep through the night.
And it will be scary, confusing, and wonderful, but it will also be meaningless, because for some strange reason you will not feel anymore rested than you do right now. Crazy, I know.
This could just be how sleep training is supposed to work. Eventually they train you to get used to frequent and long periods of nighttime waking until you can’t get your body out of that rhythm. You’ll end up spending your nights sitting alone, quietly typing out passive aggressive statuses on Facebook about how tired you are as your children sleep securely in their beds and your husband snores not so quietly next to you…
At least, that’s what I imagine it will be like, you know, if my daughter ever sleeps through the night.
Related: The 5 Stages of (Sleep) Loss