Ask any mum of a young child what’s at top of their gift wish lists and they’ll tell you that it starts with the letter ‘s’ and ends with the letter ‘p’. And unless you have a unicorn baby who sleeps through the night after three to four months, you’ll probably also wish for coffee on tap, 24/7. Alas, losing sleep goes hand-in-hand with being a parent (and let’s face it, it’s generally mum who gets the rough end of the stick when it comes to surviving on minimum zzz’s). Even if you do decide to sleep train your child, it won’t happen until they’re at least three and five months old – and that is a whole lotta sleep depravation. Until then, take a big long gulp of your Americano and digest these tips for surviving sleepless nights…
Understand that it’s just a temporary thing
Sleepless nights are an inevitable part of parenthood and they too shall pass. You might hear the odd story of a mum complaining about her five year old still waking up in the middle of the night (one of our own didn’t ‘sleep through’ until he was 3.5 years) but many little ones do get the hang of it by the time they’re two years old. It’s a tough gig, of that there is no doubt, but, as hard as it is when you’re literally falling asleep on your feet, try not to dwell on it. Keep yourself busy with snatched moments of meditation or a quick five-minute read on the loo to distract yourself when it all gets too much.
Cherish their little-ness
In the blink of an eye they’ll be all grown up and barely able to grunt more than a few words at you. But for now there’s a good reason your baby is crying every few hours or so, and it’s not because they are hellbent on running you ragged all through the night. Tiny tots only have limited ways to communicate in the early days, and crying is the one baby will rely on most. Hunger, boredom, a dirty bum: crying gets your attention. You’ll soon get to grips with which kind of cry means what kind of problem, and you’ll be a deft hand at dealing with it within weeks, we promise. Give ’em a cuddle and breath in that baby smell while you can.
It works wonders across most of the animal kingdom, and humans have been doing it since the dawn of time: co-sleeping. Do seek advice from your doctor or midwife before embarking on this route as they will be able to help you understand the safest co-sleeping options. Some babies settle much more easily and quicker when co-sleeping (while others become more fussy), but it’s definitely easier to reach over to your baby in the night to sooth them then it is traipsing to another room.
Nap when you can
As impossible as it may seem, it can be done! Ask your partner to watch bub while you doze off for a while, or catch a break while your little one is sleeping. We know that most mums get tired hearing this little ditty but catching a nap is the only way to feel refreshed in a short amount of time. The housework can wait: getting a power nap in is much more important.
Get a bit of exercise in
Nothing beats a good old endorphin rush. By squeezing in a few minutes of exercise, you’ll find an increase in energy levels, which will lower your risk of mood swings. We know that exercising with a newborn can be tough but gentle exercise like stretching, yoga and walking can definitely help you feel better about those sleepless nights. Try one of these drop-in and affordable gyms if you can’t commit to a long term membership.
Hire a night nurse
Many mums swear by night nurses. Imagine: someone to take over the wee hours of the night so you can finally get some shuteye – sounds amazing, right? Fill in your sleep saviour on your little one’s sleep routines and other things she needs to know, and then leave the night duties in her capable hands. Night nurses usually work from 10pm-7am and will do all the feeding, changing of nappies and settling the baby to sleep during these hours.
Take time to do things you enjoy
If you find yourself unable to nod off after attending to bub (no matter what time of the day), use your free time to partake in something you enjoy doing. That’s right: read a book, stalk Chris Hemsworth on Instagram, catch up on work, shop online – something peaceful that doesn’t involve soothing a crying baby or changing a dirty diaper.
Sleepless nights aren’t fun but they will eventually pass. Above all, remember that you need cut yourself some slack and give yourself some time to relax. Whether that means catching a nap, meeting up with girlfriends for coffee – you deserve a break too! Although you may not have any control over how much shuteye you get, you do have a say in how you make it affect you. We say: keep calm and nap on – you’ve got this!
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