What is this thing you call ‘sleep’?

Sleeping through the night… It is that one thing us parents all desire. Yet we still don’t feel refreshed when we finally get it.

It quite simply seemed to me that my baby was the one and only child that wasn’t sleeping through the night. Every parent I spoke to was telling me that their little angel was sleeping through.

I kept thinking come on! We can’t be the only ones, surely? There must be someone out there who feels my pain!!

I know for certain that I didn’t sleep through as a baby.
I know this because my mum likes to remind me of this constantly.
“You only stopped waking us in the night when you knew how to open the fridge…” So this is my come uppance for not letting her sleep for 3 years… Sorry mum!

We tried what felt like everything!
Playing soothing music, singing lullabies, reading at bed time, low lighting, rocking, figure of 8 rocking, extra naps in the day, dream feeding. We were encorporating each new idea into a routine which we meticulously stuck to each evening.

This is the one! This is gonna work…

Nope.

…just as you are in a nice deep slumber the bear stirs and wakes from her den. The crying feels like pure torture as you wake. Your eyes can hardly open. You feel startled and confused trying to maneouvre yourself safely through the dark, headed straight towards the commotion. Not knowing if you will be in the den for 5 minutes or an hour. What fate awaits you?

Will this bottle of milk be enough for you? Where’s your dummy? Has it fallen behind the cot? Is it colic? Are you teething? Where’s the calpol?! We need calpol up in here, stat!

Back to square one.
What is going on?!

One evening we thought we would try the old ‘cry it out’ method in desperation and it was quite possibly the worst night ever. Our daughter screamed and screamded while I sat and cried in the next room. I felt absolutely rotten. It just wasn’t for us.

That’s it. We’ll just have to try letting her sleep in our bed, but only on this one occasion we thought.
But it never is ‘just the one time’ though is it? And then she’s loving the bed.
She’s loving the entirety of the bed…
…and we’re falling off the edges of the bed.
Right, that’s it, change of plan.

But then, one night completely out of the blue she started sleeping through! I don’t know what happened.
It’s amazing!
Eureka!
It’s a trap. It’s got to be. It’s too good to be true!
You feel elated. You quite honestly feel as though you’ve never had it so good. This sleep is pure gold. Your birthday and Christmas have come at once.
Rock and roll, people.

You’ve built this moment up. There’s so much expectation.
You wake up.
You feel the same.
Why don’t I feel refreshed?
Why? Why!???

You know what though? I will wake up as many times as I need to, to make sure my daughter is ok and comfortable. This is a sacrifice I am willing to make and if I don’t sleep a full night for the next few years then that’s just the way it is. This is the life of a parent and it’s the best job in the world.
Besides a full night of sleep is overrated anyway because I don’t ever wake up feeling refreshed at all! And there’s always eyedrops and coffee…

My daughter like any other baby has her relapses too when she’s teething, she’s too hot, too cold, or poorly, but it becomes so much easier to understand as your little one gets older. I feel I’ve become so much better at working it out too.

Just know that you’re not alone. When you’re up at the crack of dawn and tearing your hair out, there is another parent maybe only a few roads away doing the same thing.
It might seem that other parents have got it all figured out, and maybe they have, or maybe they’re stretching the truth a little bit. It’s all okay! The main thing is your baby is safe and well and you are looking after yourself, the best you can.

This time goes so quickly. You blink your eyes and before you know it a year has flown by and you’re celebrating your little bear’s first birthday. It is all worth it, every second.

 

5 Books to Read With Your Kids Before They Start School

My son is now a bit older and he has started  taking some level of interest in books, particularly those with a solid rhyme scheme and a lot of repetition. I’m no expert but I think the anticipation of me repeating a line or phrase that he knows is really exciting and he often squeals with delight when he knows what the next line is.

I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say I haven’t read to my son as often as I should have. He’s all about playing and having fun and rarely wants to listen to stories. When I was pregnant I said I would read to him every day from the day he was born but I was hideously unprepared for how much other important stuff would need doing.

My son is now a bit older and he has started  taking some level of interest in books, particularly those with a solid rhyme scheme and a lot of repetition. I’m no expert but I think the anticipation of me repeating a line or phrase that he knows is really exciting and he often squeals with delight when he knows what the next line is.

Of course, chosing just five was no easy task because there are so many truly brilliant books for kids out there and the list does keep growing. I have included books that we keep coming back to, books that he brings to us to be read and a firm favourite from my own childhood.

1. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

This is part of a series of books and we love them all but this was the first one we got and we found it dishes out just the right amount of excitement to keep our little guy interested and giggling before it winds right down to a beautiful “…goodnight, goodnight little dinosaur” at the end. As he gets older I hope he also starts to take lessons from these books, which are not so subtly filled with behavioural advice for ‘little dinosaurs’.

Weston Woods Studios Incorporated, 2004

2. Someone Bigger By Jonathan Emmett and Adrian Reynolds

A slightly more recent discovery on our part but it has quickly become one of our son’s favourite books, he ‘reads’ it himself a lot and brings it to us regularly. I suspect it’s because there is a fire engine in there about halfway through but the book has a gentle rhythm that keeps him captivated and the repeated line “This kite needs someone bigger” never fails to get a laugh.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003
3. The Goat that Gloats by Joelle Dreidemy and Leyland Perree
We got this book when I was pregnant in a second hand book shop and we have loved it ever since. The whole book follows a very clear and bold rhyme scheme and although he’s not old enough to appreciate the moral of the story yet we hope our son is absorbing it all. It’s a very fun read filled with light humour – this one is for the parents as much as the kids.
Alligator Books Limited, 2012
4. One, Two, Flea! By Allan Ahlberg and Colin McNaughton
My first experience with this book was several years ago when my oldest nephew was given it at the end of his first school year by his teacher. He read it to us and we read it to him and we all howled with laughter. When he was seven I found him reading it to his younger brother, both were in hysterics. Fast forward again and my little boy thinks it’s brilliant. Having almost forgotten about it until it turned up in a jumble sale box, I was so exited to share what has now become a bit of a family tradition
 
Walker Books, 1998

5. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Here it is, the old favourite. I used to make my mum and nan (or anyone who would dare to enter my house really) read this to me over and over until none of us even needed the book in order to recite it in its entirety. It’s such an adventure and it needs to have the actions and the sounds to go with it. This isn’t a book, this is a script for a performance.
Walker Books, 1993
Do you have a favourite children’s book in your family? I’d love to hear your suggestions and recommendations!