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Sleep and Children - Tell Me It Gets Better?

By Bianca Wordley - 3rd October 2011

I have not had a good night’s sleep for close to five years. It’s pretty easy to work out why. I have three children under the age of five. I've had to deal with many different reasons for not getting sleep. Here are just some of them –

1)    You’re pregnant. Anyone who has been pregnant would know you spend most of your dedicated sleeping time going to the toilet. This is even crueler when your other children are actually sleeping soundly, for once.
2)    One, or more, of your children is sick or teething. There’s nothing worse than listening to your child coughing, wheezing or crying. And then when they’re quiet you worry and jump out of bed to check all is okay.
3)    You are in hospital. Luckily for us we’ve only had a couple of overnight hospital stays with one of our children, as they are the longest nights ever. You spend your time either dealing with a scared child being subjected to regular nurse check-ups or you lay awake watching your child sleep, willing them to get better. Hospital stays are awful.
4)    Someone’s having nightmares or is scared to go to sleep. In our house, this is generally because of an object in their room. Most evenings I am asked to remove a toy or clock or picture as it is scary or noisy.
5)    Attachment issues or an inability to resettle oneself in the dark. This regularly brings a small child into my bed each night. Recently, I woke up to find one child sleeping beside me, my husband’s toes near my face and another child sleeping curled up at my feet like a dog. I counted seven stuffed toys. Our baby was asleep in the cot next to me.
6)    The baby is having a Wonder Week. I am a firm believer in Wonder Weeks (periods of mental development) having an impact on sleep patterns. I know each of my babies have had identifiable weeks when they suddenly don’t sleep for nights and then like magic they return to normal sleeping patterns. This almost always coincides with a milestone, like learning to sit up or crawl. We generally ride the rough times and keep to our routine.
7)    Difficulty coping with a new bedroom. Whenever we travel or when we recently moved house, our children took time to settle into a strange environment. Often this means kids staying up late, watching television on the couch beside us until we snuggle into bed with them. I’m always happy to do this for a day or two, but then it’s back to the normal routine. We are big into routines in our house - everyone knows where they stand.

Sometimes nearly all of the above happen at once. There’s been many nights I’ve found myself on the couch watching bad late night television with a crying baby in my arms and an insomniac toddler sitting beside me, only to settle them and then discover my eldest asleep on my pillow.  Back to the couch I’d go with a rug and sleep. Some of my best sleeps have been on the couch – I can’t hear the kids from there. One day I’ll get a good night’s sleep, but at this stage it’s just a dream.

Do you get a good night’s sleep? Tell me it gets better as your kids get older.

image freedigitalphotos.net DC Dominici

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