Mediocre Moms Get Better Than Mediocre Sleep
I value sleep more than most people, because I am always tired. I would like to blame the kids, but the truth of the matter is that I have suffered from fatigue since long before they were born. It has been a source of frustration and annoyance, but over the years I have simply learned to live with it and have just accepted the fact that I need more rest than most people.
Clearly, having children is directly in conflict with this need, particularly when they are babies. (The old adage “sleep like a baby” was obviously invented by someone who had absolutely no children). Because of this, I never fell into the (attachment parenting) trap of having the child in our bed every night. In fact, right after my daughter was born, she got moved into the room next door. I always chuckle when people ask how long to use monitors for, because I turned mine off that first week. My daughter was a horrible sleeper, and a terribly noisy one at that. I don’t mean that she cried all night, but rather she liked to make snorting and chortling sounds all night. I would be awoken at three in the morning not to crying but to what sounded like pig snorts. It honestly sounded like I was sleeping in a barn. My husband is (blissfully) partially deaf so he never hears anything. In order to save my sleep (and my sanity), I tossed the monitor in a drawer after that first week. She was in the room right next door and, unlike my husband, I have super-sonic hearing. When she cried I was able to hear it without the monitor anyways. (Lest you think I had it easy, my daughter had terrible colic. She would scream from seven at night to midnight every night for at least seven months. It was a wonderful miracle when that ended).
Because she spent most nights in her crib, as she got older she was well-adapted to a bedtime routine. It was our one saving grace. She was picky about food, terribly strong-willed, and a generally difficult toddler. But the one thing I could count on was that she would take a bath, get a story, and go to bed with minimal fuss.
Obviously I followed suit with my other kids. My middle son did the 2:00 a.m. wake-up call for a long time, but even he went down without a lot of issues. My youngest, who is almost a year old, is also a pretty decent sleeper. (I also had to turn the monitor off on him because he makes barnyard noises too). I have to believe that a big part of their sleep habits have to do with our routine. I suppose some people would call it “sleep training”, although I don’t feel like I did anything special. Certainly if they cry, I go and change/feed them. But I don’t do crutches. I don’t rock until the child is asleep and then attempt crib transfer (this doesn’t work, by the way: as soon as they sense the loss of your body heat, their eyes snap open). I do stories and cuddles and I will stay for a bit if they ask but I won’t stay there all night. It’s their bed and I have mine.
I became inspired to write this after listening to the horror stories on the mom circuit. I heard tales of kids who would not fall asleep without mom and dad, and ones that stay up until ten o’clock at night. While I certainly see the value in spending time with your children, I have to wonder how this affects the family dynamic. I love spending time with my kids, but when the clock chimes eight, everyone is upstairs in their rooms. For the younger ones, this means that they are asleep or on their way to dreamland. (At this age, they desperately need their sleep or they become ogres in the morning. Fun fact: holding them up generally does not guarantee that you will get any more time in the morning. If your kids are early risers, they will rise with the rooster regardless if they attended a rave the night before). For the older one, she can read or have a half-hour of i-pad time as long as she stays upstairs. This way, I can have an hour or two of adult time with my husband, or an extra hour of sleep if I need it. Maybe I am not spending every last minute with my children, but I am doing something for my mental health. I am getting extra rest.
Of course there are nights we allow them to stay up later. If we are out and about on the weekend, we get to bed late. Sometimes we do movie nights and “camp-outs”, where we trade who sleeps with who. These are fun nights, but they are special occasions. On Sunday night, bedtime reverts back to our routine, and the master bedroom reverts back to me and my husband.
Some would say this is mediocre, because it doesn’t allow you spend all of your night time with your kids. (If you love cuddling that much, get a giant teddy bear). I say it allows you to have an actual relationship with your spouse, and most importantly, your sleep. So go ahead and be mediocre. You could use that extra shut-eye.
I am mediocre mom!
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