A reminder letter to myself—stop losing sleep over your children’s sleep

Dear tired Me,
You will spend a full night in your bed again. A full, uninterrupted night. Spooning with the love of your life. Fingers intertwined.
Tonight is not that night.
You have four kids. Set realistic expectations for yourself, and start accepting what your heart has already has embraced—that you need sleep at night, and your children need you. You will one day get more restful sleep when your kids are sleeping away at college, or in their own apartments. And you’ll miss those tiny arms around your neck at night.
For the last seven years you have been co-sleeping. Co-Sleeping was never the plan,             (Read here all the things I said I would never do for my kids) but when fatigue got the better of you, you chose “the easy way.”
You tried “the hard way.” There were tears—from you and from your child. You decided that no one needs that kind of pressure. You learned to trust your instincts. You arrived at co-sleeping after your fair share of struggles. Now there’s no shame in your sleep game, because everyone is actually getting sleep.
Now, you must let it go. I need to stop losing sleep over it. It works for us, and this is key. We all have to do what works for our families.

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Tonight you will sneak up the stairs hoping you won’t startle those little sleeping heads, praying that they all stay asleep. And just as you’re settling to sleep, you will hear the familiar call. And you will answer it.
Tonight, like every other night, you will be too tired to settle and soothe bending over the cot. Because…achy back. ( When I was more motivated I occasionally tried these 10 easy steps) So instead you will bring the little one into your bed. The middle of the night isn’t a time for parenting. It’s a time for survival.
Tonight you will not be wearing that silky little number that’s been gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe. No. You will wear whatever you can grab to be ready for the midnight ambush—baggy, comfy, warm. It seems, the middle of the night isn’t a time for being sexy these days. But one day we’ll bring the sexy back.
Tonight, as your child settles soundly and happily next to you—his little arms wrapped around your neck tightly, breathing softly—you will feel whole with happiness and love.

 

Tonight, when your 3-year-old wakes because his bed isn’t nice and comfy, he is too cold, he can’t sleep, he saw a monster, or because he simply needs a hug—you will know in your heart, this too will pass. When you’re in the thick of it—wondering if your nights will be like this forever and where you’ve gone wrong—hang in there, and know you’re not alone. There are many mamas in your same spot, with similar thoughts. We’re all in this together.
Tonight, when you end up in the spare bedroom sandwiched between two little boys, you will feel like a champion. Because of all the love around you. Sweet, soft and snuggly love.
Tonight you will accept that the “stay in your bed” reward chart that you hung up for your 3-year-old has failed you. At 2 a.m. he doesn’t care about all the stickers, presents or bribes in the world. At 2 a.m. when he wakes up alone in his bed, all he cares about is not wanting to be alone. All he cares about is being warm and needing cuddles.

 

Tonight, you are ready for whatever may come your way: ear infections, night terrors, vomiting bugs, bad dreams and high temperatures. Regardless of how tired you are or how many curse words run through your head, you will give those mama hugs.
If you are unsure about your sleeping arrangements or feel that whether you are doing isn’t the right thing, know this: Accidental co-sleeping does not equal failure. It’s easy to feel like you’ve failed at parenting if you let your child sleep with you. But you aren’t failing. Co-sleeping helps us all get better and more sleep. Co-sleeping has helped us through the early stages of breastfeeding, through terrible teething bouts, sickness, separation anxiety or whatever has gotten thrown our way.
When you wake up tomorrow morning feeling a bit achy and tired from having been sandwiched, you will look at your children and hope that they will know how deeply they are loved, and that they will grow up to love others selflessly, just like you did. No matter whether they were in their bed all night, or snuggling up with you in mom and dad’s bed.
Trust your gut.

 

Show yourself lots of kindness. And in the morning, always chase your coffee with a large chocolate chip muffin.
The kids will be fine and so will you.
Love,
Tired (but oh-so-grateful) Me

 

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21 thoughts on “A reminder letter to myself—stop losing sleep over your children’s sleep

  1. Before Squeak I asked my aunty why she looked so rested when she had a small baby. She asked why I thought she didn’t sleep. I said, isn’t she tired from constantly settling him in his cot? She was the first person to tell me about sleeping with a baby. It was so obvious I couldn’t believe it! I’m looking forward to the days when I can count on a night’s sleep, but up until then, I’m enjoying every second of having my son less than an arms reach away.

    Thanks for a great post 🙂 #BloggerClubUK

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  2. Lovely post, and I have definitely felt that tiredness! I was actually jealous of co-sleepers as my little girl would never settle in my bed! #BloggerClubUK

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  3. If it works – do it. May be if there are lovely grandparents around Mummy and Daddy could have a sleep over in a hotel as a gift 🙂 I agree life is too short for guilt and it doesn’t serve you or your little one. #bloggersclubUK

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  4. I totally agree! I started off as an accidental co-sleeper, then realised I quite liked it and it was easier, and now I am a fully paid up member of the deliberate co-sleeping club. I only have one child, and eventually he will be in his own bed, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts. #BloggerClubUK

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  5. What a lovely letter to yourself. You will indeed miss co-sleeping when they are too old and don’t want your cuddles any more. Cygnet tends to wake at about 4.30am at which point I carry him into my bed and we sleep till about 6:30am. It’s not restful but it is nice. I will miss it. Pen x #bloggerclubUK

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  6. Such a nice letter. And so true that you need to work out what works for the family and stop worrying about the advice others give, because they don’t know you and your family. Great post
    #MarvMondays

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  7. I love this post. It’s so right. As a parent with young children, so many of those around you will say how their children never wake. It can wear you down always hearing that when you are routinely disrupted. but I love this letter. It’s not forever and those moments all help strengthen the relationship with your child when they need you. #MarvMondays

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  8. This is so right. We dont’ co-sleep anymore, my husband has never really embraced it but sometimes I still try and sneak the baby into bed with us as I miss the cuddles and begrudge having to sleep on the feeding chair because Alfie wants some company – even when he’s asleep he knows when I leave the room! The saying they are only little for short while is very true, and whilst lack of sleep is horrendous at the time, it’s not for long and I can cope without it if it means my baby feeling safe and secure and not scared and lonely. #MarvMondays

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  9. A very sensible letter to yourself. Mother has just accepted that she won’t sleep again properly til I leave home, probably when I’m about 40. It’s right to do what’s right for your family #bigpinklink

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  10. I love this post! I have tried co sleeping but somehow my son has ways and means to make sure I actually get less sleep with him next to me than if he is in his own bed! How does he do that?? Maybe the key is to get a spare bed and not have him in with the two of us – maybe I’ll sleep better then! #MarvMondays

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  11. This is so sweet. I miss having one or the other in bed with me. No snuggles now as they both sleep better and prefer to sleep in their own beds. The morning cuddles when they come in all sleepy and huggy are the best though. Whatever works is my motto too! Thanks for sharing with the #bigpinklink

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  12. I can completely relate with this post. We went from co-sleeping, to the little one sleeping in her bed and back to co-sleeping. It was never our plan either and at times I beat myself up for choosing the easy route, but everyone is happier this way. Even if we are sometimes a little achey in the morning. Besides, one day, the little one will go back in her bed and when she does im sure we’ll miss her 🙂 Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

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  13. Oh my goodness this made me cry because this is me!! Everyone was telling me I needed to do controlled crying and made me feel bad about enabling my son to never be able to self soothe. At his one year health review the health visitor told me he looked tired and that I was doing everything wrong rocking him etc and referred me to a sleep trainer. On their advice I was spending 45 minutes to an hour 3 times a day to try to get my son to sleep in his cot which left very little time to do anything else and was totally exhausting! Plus my husband who works really long hours was getting no sleep also and we were becoming very conscious of our neighbours as we live in a flat! I cried, my son cried, bedtime was something I dreaded. That is when I chose to ignore and started co-sleeping…… oh my goodness it was amazing!! The whole family slept better than ever! It also made us realise that the reason he was waking so often was because he was really uncomfortable and had belly ache which led us to discover that he is lactose intolerant. Co-sleeping and lactose free, bedtime is now my favourite time of day. Snuggling into bed with a pile of books, hugs and kisses no crying and love. Heaven! Thank you for your lovely blog and for reminding me that instinct is key and that by becoming an accidental co-sleeper I haven’t failed.

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