Sleep deprivation is one area of parenting where I have a lot of experience. Nobody would call my kids “good” sleepers, and having three in under three and a half years probably doesn’t help. Advice for dealing with sleep deprivation is probably my most-asked-in-real-life question – mainly because everybody knows my kids don’t sleep! I asked the ladies of the Kid Blogger Network for their advice, and compiled the twenty most popular tips. Here they are – and if you’re looking for tips on getting your child to sleep at night, try this post at B-InspiredMama.com!
- Remember that it won’t last forever. Even my kids start sleeping through the night eventually, my first after their fourth birthday and the others much sooner… Many kids start sleeping through the night well before their first birthday.
- See the humor in your sleep-deprived behavior – I LOVE these Confessions of a Sleep Deprived Mommy from Mommy With Selective Memory.
- Consider safe co-sleeping.
- Have someone else watch the kids so you can sleep.
- Swap off who gets up with the kids on the weekends with your spouse.
- Teach kids to have quiet time, even if they aren’t napping, so you can nap. When Emma was a very-much-not-sleeping-through-the-night toddler and I was pregnant with Johnny I used to go with her into her (very child-proofed) room, close the door, and sleep while she played. Don’t underestimate the value of power naps.
- Embrace the benefits. I’ve learned to use these quiet hours in the middle of the night to bond with the child who is awake. It can also be a great time for reflection, prayer, or meditation if you don’t let yourself get upset about being awake.
- Don’t try to be supermom. Leave the dishes/laundry/cleaning for another day. Families need rested mothers!
- Take vitamins! Vitamin D and Fish Oil/Omega 3 may be especially helpful (check with your doctor, first). I switched over to a vitamin that included DHA when Emma was a few months old and felt much better.
- Realize that your body will adjust over time.
- Write everything down – your tired mind needs all the help it can get! To quote Caz at A Little Learning For Two: “Our youngest has a sleep onset disorder and hasn’t slept well from day dot. My only suggestions are to keep a notepad and pen in your bag because your memory will never be the same, be as organized as possible, learn to enjoy sleeping on carpet and make sure you eat as healthily as possible!” I use Google calendar, a white board, AND write everything down on a paper calendar. And still forget things, sometimes.
- Have activities planned to help make it through the day after a rough night. I try to have something quiet the kids can do first thing in the morning so that I have time to wake up slowly without resolving sibling conflicts or listening to complaints.
- Go to bed early. Many kids sleep best during the first few hours of the night. Mike and I were going to bed at 8pm for a while, when we had all THREE kids waking up nearly every night…
- Make sure you drink water during the day.
- Apologize and Forgive. As Rebekah at The Golden Gleam says, “Forgive yourself and apologize to others when you are not a very nice person to be around because of sleep deprivation. It was so easy to be gentle and kind to my baby daughter, but it wasn’t as easy for me to deal with other adults because I was giving everything I had to give to my daughter because of her intense sleep needs. My husband put up with a lot, but it doesn’t last forever and now that she is older I have more to give to the other people in my life.”
- Sometimes you just need to cry. Teething babies, sick kids, and night terrors tend to break me down.
- Give yourself some downtime, in the morning or evening. Or both!
- Make the most of little luxuries. Time out with friends, a bath, or something as simple as a food you love can make it easier to cope.
- Don’t blame yourself. I love this advice from Allie at No Time For Flashcards: “Do not think you are doing something wrong. Once I accepted my kids’ temperaments, the way they nurse my commitment to nursing and to addressing their needs at any time of day or middle of the night it was way way easier.”
Updating this post with an important addition from commenter Jen:
I’d like to add one more tip: If none of the above are working, if you just cannot cope with life, please see your doctor. It could be postpartum depression, and you could be on your way to feeling much better with support and counseling and medication. It’s not you, it’s your brain.
What are your best tips?
Special thanks to the moms who blog at A Little Learning For Two, at home with Ali, B-InspiredMama.com, Busy Kids = Happy Mom, Creative Family Fun, Creekside Learning, Curly Birds, Glittering Muffins, Growing a Jeweled Rose, hands on: as we grow, JDaniel4’s Mom, make, do & friend, Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas, Mommy With Selective Memory, No Time For Flashcards, Playawayonline, Rainy Day Mum, Red Ted Art, Sense of Wonder, Teach Preschool, The Educators’ Spin On It, The Golden Gleam, The Good Long Road, The Iowa Farmer’s Wife, and Toddler Approved for their help with this post!