It’s late, somewhere in the early hours of the morning, so early you may have just heard a bird whistle thinking it’s not far off sunrise. You are only just dragging your heavy, tired, exhausted mummy body to bed.
You’ve forgone the simple things like removing makeup, putting on PJ’s or brushing your teeth (no WAIT….. I always brush my teeth, but I considered it. Let’s just say it wasn’t a dentist approved brush).
You’ve just nestled yourself down under the covers and you can hardly believe you are finally here. What an achievement, as you quietly pat yourself on the back….nope, no energy left for that! You are just about to doze off into the distant land of dreaming about perfectly clean houses, and endless tropical holidays and then YOU HEAR IT.
It comes like a sharp pain to the side, your senses awaken and you lie still, frozen, ears tuned…..hoping it is not an awakening child. Maybe it’s another bird screeching or an animal, yeah that’s probably it…. Nope that’s not it. It’s your awakening child.
Did they miss the memo, that YOU HAVEN'T SLEPT YET! Maybe they’ll just go back to sleep on their own? The sooking stops, and like some dirty tease you think, YES….. BUT NO!
They are awake and calling for Mummy, no one else, but MUMMY! Yes I could probably try to tell you about the positives here, its’ nice to be wanted, to be loved….blah blah blah, and yes while I won’t lie, it is a nice feeling- at 10:00 am when it’s time to be awake, not at 1:00 am in the morning!
Sleep deprivation is something that all new parents can relate to, and for those who remember, having young children is a big compromise on sleep.
We’ve been lucky enough to get our children into a good sleeping pattern that usually sees them have 10-12 hours a night sleep. However, at random times during the night we could have sore tummies, teething, temperatures, wind, wet nappies, toilet breaks, lost bunnies, vomiting, thirsty children, lost blankets, too cold, too hot, fallen out of bed or just simply wanting a cuddle.
We have a ‘no children in our bed rule’ at our house, purely because they never sleep when they are there and only think its play time, so we have never done it, nothing against it, each to their own, it just doesn’t work for us. However my husband often wakes to find me absent from our bed and fast asleep in our toddlers bed where I was too tired to sit and comfort him when he woke distressed so I just cuddled up with him, which is normally all he wants anyway (thank goodness for a king single bed...I won’t be doing this in 10 years!). However for the moment while my children are still little, this works for them to know I’m here, I’m not leaving and Mummy loves you….I just need my sleep.
So why am I telling you this?
Like all parenting, what works for your family or your children doesn’t necessarily mean it will work other people’s families. Whilst we all make active decisions in our lives, sometimes what is working for us right here, right now may not be the ideal, I’m going to be doing this forever kind of decision, but it’s working for you right now and getting you through some tough parenting times. This is OK, we’ve all been there whether we like to admit it or not.
There is way too much pressure on parents these days and especially as a mum, you get told, don’t do this, don’t do that, your kid shouldn’t have a dummy, why isn’t he on a vegan, no dairy, no preservatives, all natural diet- my child is (insert roll eyes here).
I find myself reverting back to, it’s working for me right now so leave your opinions to yourself. So WHAT if this means bringing sick or upset kids into your bed, or cuddling up next to your children in their bed, or putting on the iPad to get an extra 30 minutes sleep in the morning, to having the iPad over dinner just to have a moment to think. Just because we do it, doesn’t mean that they will be doing it forever, and needless to say we shouldn’t insert judgement on parents for it is their choice, their household and is obviously working for them right now. It also allows us as parents to have a moment to just be human, regain our strength and in turn leads to us being able to respond more appropriately to our children.
I’ve taught many children over my years, and the one piece of advice I have is that if you’re making a decision for your child based on your own ability to manage a situation as best you can at that given moment, then that is completely fine and behaviours aren’t curbed overnight. It does mean that if it is starting to become a ‘go to’ habit, then at some point you will need to address it by adding in alternative strategies or arrange a time to talk to me about building in some positive strategies.
Needless to say it’s your house, and your rules and ultimately your sanity at times, so give yourself a break, don’t be too hard on your decisions and if it is working for you right here, right now, then GO FOR IT!
Belinda is a Special Education Teacher and mother of two young children who is passionate about assisting families with children’s challenging behaviours. She has over 10 years’ experience working with a range of children across all ability levels, including children with ASD, developmental delay and intellectual disability. She is also a University Lecturer. Belinda provides a calm and supportive process to working with families to make positive change with the children in their lives. Her vision is to assist families to regain precious moments with their children, she provides a gentle approach to developing strategies with families to work with their child at home, at school and in the community. Through The Resource Kit, Belinda provides consultancy to families and teachers on how to work positively with all children. She also provides support for families through the toilet training process.