Secrets to getting more sleep when you have kids

getting more sleep when you have kids

Someone asked me the other day what my secrets for getting more sleep when you have kids are. After I finished rolling around the floor laughing I thought about how to answer the question.


When Eamon was born I became OBSESSED with trying to get him to sleep.  I read that book that tells you they can be trained to sleep well and any other method will mean they (and you) will never ever ever ever ever sleep again. 


We tried it. It stressed me out more than anything. It worked for a little while. Until it didn’t.  By that point we gave up and just rolled with what worked in the moment, until it didn’t work for us and then we’d try something else.


When Rory came along I just figured we’d roll with it again.  Both boys have had similar sleep habits right from birth.  As newborns both would cluster feed from about 4pm onwards. Both would pass out at around 7pm and have a good long sleep til about midnight or two (if I was lucky).  Then they would feed every couple of hours or more until morning.


Both hit the four month mark and went through that feed every hour business.  With Rory I decided it meant that i just needed to try and get him off the reliance of feeding to sleep and at the point changed to rocking.  Which mostly worked and he went back to only needing to be settled a couple of times a night.


Both decided around seven or eight months that they no longer would take being put to bed lying down (literally).


With Eamon I remember feeling like this was a nightmare. On one hand, we’d put all this (stressfull) effort into getting him into a routine to sleep and now he wasn’t playing the game.  The thing with sleep training is you feel you have no other option then following all the rules. At least that’s how I felt anyway. Which means when they stop playing them, or you know, act like the unique individuals that they are, you feel completely lost and unsure what to do next.


With Rory this stage wasn’t that big of a deal. At the point I gave up trying to put him into his cot at all and just lay on the bed next to him until he fell asleep. When he would wake in the night I would just lie back down next to him and stay there. (We had a spare double bed in his room right from the start which made it easy. Everyone got back to sleep easily and without too much fuss.)


At around the 18th month mark both boys decided they would only sleep with us.  By this point with Eamon, we’d moved house a couple of times, had been overseas with him for 2 weeks and were now sleeping on our mattress on the floor of a rental house on the coast. All ‘routines’ had gone out the window anyway and we were just rolling with the ‘whatever works right now’ method.


The (king size) mattress on the floor actually worked really well, because it meant he could sleep on the side and we didn’t need to worry about him falling out and we (mostly) all had enough room.


Rory has been pretty similiar.  By 18 months he was sleeping on a double mattress on the floor of the boy’s shared room. Which meant he just started getting up and walking to us when he woke in the night. This is pretty much still what happens now. We hear his little feet walking in. One of us grabs him and chucks him in the middle and we all go back to sleep. He does have a terrible habit of sleeping on the bed horizontally which means even though we still have a king size, it doesn’t feel quite so spacious anymore. 


Eamon eventually started going to sleep by himself and staying in his own bed when Rory came along. Which meant he was almost 3.  We really played up the ‘big brother’ role and he loved that, so he went along with the idea that he now had to go to sleep by himself and stay there. Other than a couple of phases when he’s been sick or when I lost Orion and our house was a fairly emotional one, he has stayed in his own bed the whole time.  He never fought it. He didn’t cry about it and it wasn’t a battle. I wish now we’d never tried to do sleep training when he was so young, because it all just happened so naturally when he was actually ready.


Currently Rory is going through a ‘difficult to get to sleep stage’ since he discovered he can to say ‘no’.  It’s like he’s just discovered his power and he’s going to use it.  This would have stressed me out immensely with Eamon. Actually I remember it did. I would sit next to him on his bed crying and getting really angry that he wouldn’t just lie down and go the F to sleep.  With Rory, sometimes I persevere, other times I just take him into our bed and read by a small light while he does somersaults and eventually passes out from exhaustion.


So when people ask us now how our kids sleep, our answer now is ‘pretty good really’.  We do sleep, and while it’s never straight through, I don’t think I really have anything to complain about.  Rory still wants to be close to us for most of the night, but it’s just not something that worries me anymore.


For me that’s the secret to getting enough sleep with kids, not stressing about it.  When I used to spend hours looking for answers to why he wouldn’t sleep, I would actually lose sleep thinking about what we could do to change it. When I finally surrendered to just rolling with whatever stage these little people are going through and not being overly attached to it, everything felt easier, and ironically, everyone started sleeping better too. 


How do your kids sleep?  Any hot tips for me?

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