But just stop for a moment. Take a deep breath, and work out whether it’s right for your family right now. Here are a few things to check first:
· What is the expected behaviour and sleeping pattern of children of your son or daughter’s age? Check it against the norm and you may be surprised. It’s normal for babies under 6 months to need night feeds. Its common for babies under a year to still need a night feed – especially if solids aren’t fully established.
· Is there something else going on in your child’s world right now? Developmental milestones, cognitive changes, and illness are all common reasons for sleep to go out the window.
· What’s happening in the home environment? Big changes like house moves, new siblings, new schools, new jobs etc are all very good reasons why you might be having a hard time. Find someone to offload on, talk out your difficulties and stresses, and don’t panic!
· Is your child sleeping normally for their age and stage, but it’s actually you not sleeping well? Sometimes adults suffer from insomnia or restlessness. Anaemia can cause permanent fatigue and tiredness. Lack of exercise can make us lethargic and slow our metabolism down. So before you tackle your child’s sleep – make sure you have good sleep habits yourself!
There is never a perfect time to take on sleep coaching of course, but some times are just not sensible. Its also worth considering that for a short amount of time with gentle sleep work, you may get even less sleep whilst you focus on implementing a sleep plan. Of course, it is temporary and for the long term gain, but if you feel you cannot physically survive on any less sleep than you’re currently getting, its probably best to try a few of the tips below!
· Get a string of early nights. Really early. Like 8pm. Be disciplined. Tanking up on sleep early really will make you feel better. Most babies and children have their deepest portion of sleep between 7pm-12am, so if you can maximise this time to get some hours of shut-eye, it will help with the rest of the night.
· Practice good ‘sleep hygiene’. Have a relaxing wind-down routine of a warm bath or shower, and read a book rather than use illuminated screens such as smart phones and ipads – these mess up your natural production of melatonin (the sleep hormone)
· Avoid alcohol for 2 hours before bed and caffeine for 5 hours before bed.
· Take plenty of exercise.
· Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Check your iron levels and correct any deficiencies.
· Rope in help – don’t be a hero! If you can afford to, get a cleaner for a few weeks.
· Accept offers to look after the kids. Seriously, sometimes time out from 24/7 mummy on-call is just the tonic you need.
· Do something that’s really really fun. Belly laughing is really good for your soul!
· Know that this will pass. Some children are better at this whole sleep thing than others, but they all get there eventually.
If you’ve done all these things and you are still feeling exhausted, irritable, angry, resentful or short-tempered, then give me a call. I will never, ever make you feel bad for anything you’ve done, felt or thought. I work with mums and dads quite as much as I work with babies and children – because children do not make sense outside of the context of their family and environment. Together, we’ll help you be the best parent you can be.
Now, go grab your children. Make a silly noise and tickle them till they cry laughing. Get in the bath together and put an obscene amount of bubble mix in. Put on your favourite tunes and dance around like nutters. This is a short season and you wont always be this tired. I promise.