After a pretty rough night’s sleep in our house, it seemed only fitting that I was heading over to my girlfriend Kristy’s house to have a cuppa and chat about sleep, or lack thereof. What made this mummy catch-up a little different to the ordinary was that Ang, Kristy and I were being filmed for Bepanthen’s Mummy Diaries Campaign; a fantastic project to bring the real conversations that mother’s share to your computer screens.
Showing up to Kristy’s
untypically late, with a toddler in tow, I walked into a buzz of excitement. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only person who’d had a restless sleeper to watch over the previous night. I had a good feeling that this topic was going to suit us well, in fact I could probably chew a new mum’s ear off about the trials and tribulations of sleep in my first few years of parenthood.
A few nights prior to this we had embarked on an intervention to stop a certain pint-sized visitor from coming to our room at all hours of the night and morning. The visits began after we had allowed her to sleep between us when she had been sick. We were getting up to her so often than we thought we’d all get a better sleep if she just stayed with us that night.
Once she was well again, she began to pop into our room at about 6am with her pillow tucked under her arm and her dummy in her mouth. She’d climb up the side of the bed and launch herself over her dad to get into the middle of the bed. She asked for mummy cuddles and this really melted my heart. I couldn’t say no.
Over the next few weeks, the visits became more frequent and happened earlier and earlier. Some nights she’d be waking just hours after bedtime asking to go to mummy’s bed and she was really starting to cause a fuss about it. We made the mistake of allowing her to come in if she was really upset. Once in our bed, she would have a wonderful night’s sleep at wake at 8am as bright as a button. We spent the nights tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable way to sleep with half the space and with toddler toes in our ribs, back or face. There were also the lovely wake-ups to a hand whacking us across the face as she checked to see that we were still there. We weren’t getting much sleep, she wasn’t learning to sleep in her own bed and our immunity was really starting to suffer. We were tired and run down. Something had to change.
I did some online research and decided the best strategy for us was called ‘Parental Presence.’ The game plan was that I would stay with her, in her room until she fell asleep each time she woke through the night. For her age (2 years), I was warned to expect resistance. I was worried about causing her distress but read that at her age, it was unavoidable because she would be aware of what was going on. I would be in the room with her if she needed me. It could take up to two weeks to wean her off getting out of her bed. We crossed our fingers and prepared ourselves for some rough nights. We thought, ‘How much worse could it be compared to the nights we’ve been having?!’
Night one was long. I set myself up a mattress on the floor. Her first wake up was about 11pm. I went into her and closed her door behind me. She cried, screamed and banged on the door crying ‘mummy’s bed!’ I felt terrible but knew I had to stay at it.
Her tantrum lasted for about twenty minutes. After she started to calm down, she walked over to me and cuddled me. I put her into her bed and she fell asleep immediately. We had one more wake up that night and I ended up so exhausted that I fell asleep on the floor. This continued for three nights after this. By the forth night, there was no tantrum, I just had to redirect her back to her bed if she got out.
Night five was our first full night’s sleep in what seemed like months. It has stayed that way since. Now, the only times we have to get up to her is when she is unwell and waking from a blocked nose, cough or fever. When she is well she has a healthy night’s sleep and so do we. Her waking time is earlier (about 6.30am) but we are all much happier from having a solid sleep.
It’s amazing what a difference a good night’s sleep can make on the way we function in daily life. I became accustomed to surviving on such little sleep that I forgot how good a solid eight hours felt. It was nice to claim our grown-up space back too.
I think the key to this strategy working for us was consistency. It’s so easy to ‘give-in’ when your baby is so upset. We are all so much happier now that a few rough nights was worth it.
Our next big challenge is to get rid of her dummies. When you have a spare few hours, I’ll tell you all about that!
So, keep in mind that I was in the middle of this sleep training when we filmed! Take a look at me
barely functioning on about five hours of broken sleep and check out Em’s cool onsie while you’re there! Thank goodness for coffee!
We had a good laugh reflecting on all of the different lengths we have gone to to get a good night’s sleep.
A big thank you to Kristy for joining in the fun with us and allowing us to film at her house. Thanks to Bepanthen and Nuffnang for the great opportunity and experience. It was really enjoyable and we met some lovely people.
What lengths have you gone to to get a good night’s sleep?
The Mummy Diaries campaign is bought to you by Bepanthen: A product that has been a life saver for many mums and their baby’s bums. Bepanthen Ointment contains Pro-vitamin B5 and gently soothes to help heal baby’s delicate skin by supporting its natural healing process. It has a breathable waterproof barrier helping to protect against irritants and provides lasting protection from the causes of nappy rash.
Watch more Mummy Diary Episodes here: www.youtube.com/user/BepanthenAustralia/videos