Please, Go to Sleep!

As parents, we’ve all been there . . . sleep-deprived walking zombies. This lack of sleep can result in a tired mom putting her keys in the refrigerator, wearing two different types of shoes, and not remembering exactly when her last shower was. Anyone else?

woman laying down on bed with feet sticking out of covers

We knew what we were getting into – a couple of months of sleepless nights with a newborn and then the baby should start sleeping through the night, right?  

Nope. At least not with my kids. Clearly, I am not the only exhausted parent experiencing this phenomenon either.  There are mountains of books, articles, and websites solely dedicated to the topic of getting children to sleep. 

Everyone jokes to parents-to-be that “you’ll never sleep again”. Although a false statement, I now think that after having a baby your sleep will never be the same again. 

As soon as you’ve successfully mastered a major sleep hurdle with a child another one soon appears out of nowhere. It’s so predictable. Once you’ve had a few restful nights undoubtedly something new will surface – sleep regression, teething, sickness, growth spurts, etc. 

We scour the internet trying to find solutions. Buying ridiculous gadgets like The Shusher, anything to try and snatch a few precious moments of extra sleep. Sleep-deprived parents with financial means even resort to hiring sleep consultants and night nannies. Why is getting a good night’s sleep such a luxury?

A popular book describes the inner monologue of a parent whose only wish/demand is that the child go to sleep. The book is entertaining. In fact, both Jennifer Garner (WARNING: swear words) and Samuel L. Jackson reading the book aloud are popular videos on YouTube. It also makes you feel better to know it’s not just your kids who are out to ruin parents’ sleep forever. 

baby monitor showing toddler sleeping in crib with many items
Our toddler demands to sleep with; two baby dolls, multiple books, a sippy cup of water, a pillow, and two blankets. Missing one of those items and still fall asleep? Not a chance!

Our two-year-old manipulated us for about a month with her poo. Yup, I said it. An extra hour every night was spent getting her in and out of her crib to “go poo poo”.  She’d go a little bit. Get back in her crib and within minutes call out saying she needed to go again. And she would. This girl was portioning her bowel movements to extend her bedtime!

One of my close friends has been sleeping in the basement with her child working on sleep training (again). Why is she sleeping in the basement? Because when you have multiple children, one crying can set off a chain reaction so you have to start the whole nighttime process all over again.  

I have yet to night-wean my 8-month-old. It’s just easier to feed her and be done with it than risk having the two-year-old hear the baby cry and wake up. But dang I need some uninterrupted sleep. I think the basement is calling my name.

I can’t even imagine what co-sleepers go through.

I recently read Jim Gaffigan’s book “Dad is Fat”. In it, there is an entire chapter devoted to putting his five children down at night and the accompanying choreography of swapping rooms and beds. Eventually, he admits that by morning all the children are in bed with him and his wife. How do they keep creating more children? Maybe it’s a rude question to ask, but I just don’t understand the logistics.

As a stay-at-home mom, my whole day revolves around sleep. Each day I need to consider the following two questions: How do I perfectly time our outings to keep nap times on schedule? How do I perfectly time our outings so naps don’t take place in the car?

My biggest goal for every day is to get my kiddos to nap at the same time. When both kids are sleeping I feel like I’ve hit the Jackpot! If I can squeeze out 20 minutes to sometimes two hours of alone time to get tasks checked off my to-do list, I feel like a superwoman.

Sleep affects our social life. My husband and I accept or don’t accept invitations specifically depending on if it is going to ruin our children’s naps. You want us to come to your child’s birthday party at 1 pm? Nope, we’ll mail a gift. Because if you mess with a child’s sleep schedule you end up cutting into a parent’s meager sleep schedule.

As a community of sleep-deprived parents, let’s remember to cut each other some slack. Our marriages suffer, our attitudes suffer, the bags under my eyes suffer – when all we need is a little more sleep.

Mehgan recently moved back to Wisconsin and is taking advantage of all Madison has to offer! She graduated from UW-Madison in Family and Consumer Science Education and taught high school for five years before becoming a bridal store manager/wedding planner. Currently mom to her extremely active toddler Cora (March 2017), sweet baby Autumn (September 2018), and large Goldendoodle Benny (January 2010), Mehgan is relishing the opportunity to stay at home for the moment. Reading and blogging on her personal blog (www.PlanningForKeeps.com) takes up any spare moments she can steal during naptime. Mehgan can't wait for summer when camping, zoo outings, and trips to Door County will be on the agenda.

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