When I brought home our third child from the hospital, I knew what I was in for. Love. Snuggles. And sleep deprivation. The stretch of time where my mind was in a fog, when I’m running late to everything, and when my house becomes a crazy tornado of laundry and dishes. All I could think about each day was how much I just wanted to take a nap!
I planned for the sleepless nights to last about six months to a year. That’s at least what our second child did. Our child who we used to think wasn’t a great sleeper. That is until we really learned what a child who doesn’t sleep is like.
The ugly truth is that some children are mini insomniacs. When you have a bad sleeper, all you can do is hold on for the ride. They aren’t like other babies who eventually learn to sleep as they grow older. Or babies that experts write sleep books about and magically they start sleeping. These kids who don't sleep are a breed of their own who escape sleep even into toddlerhood.
After trying sound machines, putting her to bed early, weighted blankets, skin to skin, blackout curtains, bedtime books, baths before bedtime, nighttime calming routines, sleeping with a lovey, and wine (for me), I threw up the white flag.
What to do when your child won't sleep
My toddler is a terrible sleeper, and it’s not a stage she is growing out of. This is how I have survived for two-and-a-half years, and at this point, I think there’s really no end in sight.
This is how I get through the days when nothing seems to work.
1. Remind yourself that some children just don’t need as much sleep.
You know those adults who seem to never need sleep and are annoyingly efficient? Yup, you are raising someone who just doesn't need as much sleep as the rest of us.
2. Kiss them while they are sleeping.
How do they transform to such sweet angels when their precious little eyes close?
3. Celebrate the nights that are better than others.
A victory is a victory. Relish in it.
4. Take pictures of them while they are sleeping.
It doesn’t get much better than sweet angelic photos of them actually asleep.
5. Tell yourself that one day you’ll miss this.
It won’t be soon. I’m waiting for this day too.
6. Find other parents who understand.
You need a sleepless mom tribe. And coffee.
7. Take naps.
This is survival mode. You are not being lazy.
8. When people give you unsolicited sleep advice, smile and nod.
They mean well but just don’t understand.
9. It gets better with age.
Not necessarily our sleepless children, but us. I thought I was going to die of sleep deprivation in my 20s, but now in my 30s, I can get by.
10. Remember that you are not alone.
There are lots of mombies. We understand one another in ways that no one else could!
Having a child who won’t sleep is hard. We’re going to get through this together, friend.