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Sleeeeeeep!

Myself and my hubby attachment parented our three year old son. He is such a lovely little fella so we now have baby boy number Two who we are also attachment parenting.

However our Three Year old still wants in, so each night four of us cram into bed, my baby feeding up to 4 times a night.

I AM NOT SLEEEEEEPING!

How do I give my kids the Mum time they need at night, respect their need to be close and still sleep.

My husband is on the heart transplant list and I care for him also and he is unable to help much in childcare.

Thanks

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Parents Need Sleep - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

What a wonderful start you have given your boys, attachment parenting is the best thing for a baby if it suits your family.

But what I would suggest in your circumstances is you start thinking about you and your husband need as well as your boys.

With a husband who needs a heart transplant, good quality sleep is really important. And although you are doing most of the attending to children in the night, he will still be getting disturbed sleep. And clearly you are exhausted.

Just be creative with how you can get more sleep - to function well as a parent and carer you MUST make that a priority for now. You will have much more energy for being a loving Mum and wife if you take care of yourself FIRST as much as you can. If you are running on empty you don't have quality energy for anyone.

You are not abandoning your attachment parenting principals if you sleep separately sometimes - actually the reverse. Attachment parenting is about providing the best quality loving connection with your children. You can't do that effectively when you are totally exhausted.

Attachment parenting is modeled around village or cultural norms where there is a huge amount of extended family support. So there would be a grandmother and aunties to soothe an older child - meals would be prepared and houses cleaned by sisters and friends, and Mom can just focus on her and baby.

In our society where we tend to live separately, the bulk of childcare is done or organized by the parents - and in your case because you have a husband who has a major health issue - it falls to you. No wonder you are exhausted!

So give yourself a pat on the back for having such fabulous ideals and doing them to the best of your ability. But also recognize, that if you are the hub of this family, you absolutely need to look after number one first. Or at least, you and baby first anyway.

Your three year old does have to adjust to Mum not being always available. That is life - learning to take turns, learning patience, learning we can always have everything instantly, learning to self soothe and take care of our own needs are all good things to learn. He may well have his nose out of joint a little, but that is not a bad thing.

Part Two Follows . . . .

Parents Need Sleep - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

I'll give you some ideas that you can try - but of course only you can decide what works for your family.

You can set up a bed in another room so either your husband or yourself and baby can have a night with less interruptions. You don't ALL have to be in the same bed every night. Your husband can have some nights on his own and leave more room in the bed for you and the boys. He will get a better night's sleep and you will have more space. Or you can have a night with you and Baby and it may well be that your three year old will wake less and a pat from daddy will keep him happy.

If you can't face being in another room - is there space for adding a single bed alongside the main bed or in the same room? When you have more sleeping space then it may well be you are not all disturbing each other so much.

To co-sleep safely with a baby, you have to have enough room so baby is not tucked under mounds of bedding, but can easily feed without you having to totally wake up. If the bed is overcrowded, then you don't have the space to totally relax and be in the most comfortable position to feed and attend to your baby.

You didn't say if your three year old is sleeping through the night or if he is waking too? By three, he should mostly be sleeping through, except for the odd bad dream etc, and it may well be that if he is waking a lot, you and baby are disturbing his sleep. Learning to self soothe is good for a child to learn - of course when they are upset or wake frightened, then they need a cuddle from Mom or Dad. However when a child is so used to a cuddle or a pat from you, then they don't figure out they can roll over and cuddle under the duvet - or cuddle a special bear and go back off to sleep themselves.

Our sleep goes in cycles - longer early in the night and shorter in early morning hours. The shorter the sleep cycle, the closer to waking we come when each cycle ends. So when we come close to consciousness, we often are much more likely to wake if we hear noises or other people are moving in the bed.

Of course you don't want to chuck him out of the family bed, particularly when it coincides with the arrival of a new baby.

But you can make a really exciting big deal out of creating a sleeping space for him. It can be a bed in the same room if you want to all be together. He can choose a duvet cover - or get one with his favourite super hero or Movie character. Get him a cuddly teddy or special bed friend and make a big deal out of him being a big boy. You can start by cuddling up with him as he falls off to sleep and then ease out into the main bed. Or maybe Dad can do this?

Part Three Follows . . .

Parents Need Sleep - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

A hot water bottle can be a good trick to make the bed warm or give him the idea of a warm body beside him. If your room allows, you can make it so the bed is within reach so you can lean over and still pat him.

Or you can take turns who sleeps in the extra bed - have a roster and use stars or something or even make it like a special treat to sleep in the "special bed". That way instead of being "banished" from the family bed - the extra bed (or separate room) become something special to look forward too.

Maybe that bed comes with extra treats - so tonight Daddy gets the special bear, a hot chocolate and an extra cuddle from Mommy. Maybe 10 nights in the new bed means that person gets to choose a video or some special treat. You can make up a chart so each person (and you and baby count as 1!) is earning the treat. That way your 3 year old is not feeling like he is the only one that has to sleep in a separate bed.

The bottom line is you have to find what works that meets ALL your needs as best as possible. Yes, your three year old needs lots of good quality attention and lots of cuddles - but you need some quality sleep and so does your husband. You have given him such a great start in life and you are not taking anything away from him if you change your sleeping habits so he does not have such an exhausted Mummy.

Then of course the other thing is Nap as often as you can! Easier said than done when you have a three year old and a baby - but if your three year old has a nap time - then make sure you and baby snuggle down too. Even if you just get 10 minutes it will help.

Also try to get some help during the day - is there someone who can come regularly to be with your three year old so you and baby can go and snooze?

Abandon housework for now, except for the most essential. As your baby gets older you will get more sleep and your body will also start to recover from childbirth. For now, just concentrate on what is most important and that is SLEEP!! Make that your number one priority to take every opportunity to grab a nap. It is very tempting when baby is sleeping to rush around and do a load of washing or tidy up - but you can do all those things with bub in a carry wrap.

Part Four Follows . . .

Parents Need Sleep - Part Four
by: Annie Desantis

Remember nothing lasts forever, it changes as children grow so you won't be stuck with no sleep forever!

At present your number one priority is to get enough sleep so you can function well as both a parent and a carer for your husband.

And although you hold dear to the concept of attachment parenting, you may well be compromising the quality of your time with everyone when you are so exhausted. If you are grumpy and exhausted during the day you are not going to be interacting well with either child, let alone your husband.

So be a bit creative about how you might be able to get some flexibility into your sleeping arrangements so you get a bit more sleep, but still maintain much of what you think is important for your children.

Let me know how you go - feel free to comment back.

Good luck and sweet dreams!

Annie D :)

Your're So Right :)
by: Anonymous

Annie,
You are such a reassuring voice. Thank-you for your quick reply it is so welcomed!

Of course you are right, I so often am trying to do right by my 3 boys I do forget my needs until my needs (like sleep) start to effect my life.

I am exhausted. I guess I just wanted reassurance that moving my baby boy no:1 into big boy bed was OK, seeing as he is dealing with a lot of unsettling times (Daddy poorly, new brother, starting preschool etc)

But as I read your reply I realized that I am not the mummy I should/can be right now anyway because I am so tired. He needs a happier mum and that will come with more sleep.

I think I will go with making his room special with a special big bed etc and when he wakes in the night (which he does once a night I'll try and go into his room and help settle him back down.

I haven't even considered my poor hubby's feelings really bless him, he always looks fast a sleep but he must be disturbed. He also recently suffered a stroke and has no communication at the minute so that can be tricky.

Thank-you again for being the clear voice in the fog!
:)

Take Good Care Of YOU
by: Annie Desantis

Good luck with the changes, it may not all go smoothly at first, but make it exciting and interesting for your son and make his new bed a wonderful place to be, not a rejection.

Wow, I did not realize your husband had actually had a stroke as well, and is not able to communicate - you really do have more than your share of challenges at present.

In fact having him in the bed is actually probably the best thing for him, though he need plenty of extra sleep and quiet time - there is lots of newer research now around strokes, that look like recovery is much better when there is lots of body contact - similar to what you do with a newborn baby. His brain is having to relearn and regrow a lot of the neural pathways and that takes time and a combination of rest and activities - simple things like kids puzzles learning to hold things, get muscle control etc depending on what areas of his brain were effected. If he naps in the day, try to keep it quiet as he will be in sensory overload a lot of the time - and hopefully you nap too! Daddy nap times can be family nap time - or quiet book reading or something.

I hope you are getting some help and support with him, you have WAY too much on your plate right now. To cope with everything you absolutely need to take care of your own needs first - eat properly, sleep whenever you can, get some sunshine (vitamin D) and hopefully get some extra help.

Hang in there - you are doing an amazing job, but take care - I'll send you a big ball of energy from Oz! You sure need it!

Annie D :)

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