When you have a baby who won’t sleep, it’s very easy to lose perspective. Well, it’s actually normal to lose perspective. I know one mum who told me how she had yelled at her own mother for forgetting to bring the shopping bags on their shopping trip, threw a bunch of dry-cleaning on the ground and sat down and sobbed for no reason.
She has good reason. She’d only had three hours sleep every night since her baby was born, which was nine weeks ago! Here are some tips that can help when you feel like you might be right on the edge of losing it:
1. Ask for HELP
Give yourself and your baby a break. Some data shows at least two in five babies have sleep problems but in my experience, I’d say it’s more like 90% have at least a few days or weeks where sleep is incredibly difficult and it feels like it’s never going to end. It’s ok to ask for help. Ask your sister, ask your mum, ask your partner, ask your next door neighbour (if you have a nice one). Anyone who has had a baby, and even some that haven’t, would be very happy to help if you tell them your baby hasn’t been sleeping. It’s totally okay to ask.
2. FREAK OUT FOR A MINUTE
It’s totally fine to freak out about this just for a minute. It is ridiculously stressful to have no sleep. It wasn’t used as a form of torture for nothing. Sleep deprivation is serious and it’s totally understandable to be upset about it. But try not to fall into a hole (see tip number 1; it’s ok to ask for help).
3. KEEP IN MIND THAT IT’S NOT FOREVER
There are very few 14 year olds who are still waking their parents up 10 times a night. Let’s face it, there are very few six year olds doing that. It is reassuring to know that this situation of sleeplessness is not permanent. It will eventually get better even if you do nothing.
4. GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT
You are doing a tough job. There’s no official guide book for what you’re doing. There’s millions of words written about parenthood but no one knows the answers and no one has the perfect solution for your baby. You know your baby best of all and if you’re struggling, you can be sure that most people would be struggling. It’s not easy, otherwise mothers would all be walking around with great hair and perfectly ironed clean clothes. Instead, there are lots of mums greeting the day with a dishevelled pony tail and track pants. You are keeping a whole other human alive. There’s many years ahead and at the moment you’re just getting to know each other and working out a routine. No one expects you to know everything so take the pressure off yourself and take a tiny breath and a moment to congratulate yourself for getting through the day. It’s not easy.
5. CONSIDER WHAT PRACTICAL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Before 12 weeks, it really is a responsive time and you can’t suddenly change your baby into an amazing sleeping machine. You can create a rhythm to the day but your baby has a little tummy and can’t suddenly sleep eight hours every night without a feed; it’s not physically possible. But after 12 weeks, there are a things you can do to help gets things more manageable. Also talk to someone you trust about what steps worked for them. Try not to frenetically google and try everything. Try to pick a few things and really stick with them otherwise it can be confusing and stressful.
Most of all, remember, you’re ok and your baby’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up; parenting is a tough job.