When Your Child is an Early Riserby Debbi Baldwin
From the moment I announced my first pregnancy, all of my mum friends bombarded me with their sleep-related triumphs and nightmares. Whether it was the stress of colic or the unicorn child that slept 12 hours a night from the second they were born, I felt that I had enough information to cope with whatever my child could throw at me.
Then, when my son was born, sleep became a distant memory. He is now four years old, has just started school and I can count the number of times that he has slept through the night in his life on both hands (with a few fingers to spare). We have tried everything over the years, absolutely everything. Sleep training/the cry it out method (a very low point), soothing music, white noise, warmer room, colder room, night lights, reading to him, co-sleeping... You name it, we spent money on it - only to watch it fail miserably. He needed a lot of comfort to get to sleep, and only the comfort of a parent would do.
Over the past 6-12 months, we seemed to have turned a corner. Yes, he is still waking up most nights, but usually it is only once or twice and he will go back to sleep reasonably quickly. Our problem now is that, regardless of the time he goes to bed or how busy his day has been, he will be awake at 'stupid o’clock' every morning. I’m talking 5.30am, maybe 6.00am if he allows us a lie-in... so kind when he does this. And once he is awake, that’s it. He's up, we're up, everyone's up. He wants company and interaction and won’t take no for an answer. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been downstairs in the morning before the sun has even thought about rising, laying on the couch with my eyes closed whilst my son watches cartoons and demands his first meal of the day.
I used to get severe mum guilt that I wasn’t using this time for more educational activities or to get some of the little jobs done around the house that always seem to pile up, but I came to the conclusion that I’m a better parent, a better person even, when I’m well-rested. So, in the long run, spending an extra 20 minutes laying down before properly starting my day is of benefit to everyone.
I am currently expecting my second child and dreading the night times already, but I feel that having survived everything so far, I can probably muddle through anything else that it is thrown at me.... I hope.