More Coffee, Less Advice– A Note from a Sleep Deprived Mama

The three week mark is nearing. In a few long nights, it will be almost three weeks of surviving on under 3 hours of sleep a night. That’s right, folks. While my son excels at many things, sleeping has never been one of them. Lately, however, the proverbial shit has hit the fan. Transitioning him from a crib to a toddler bed has proved to be the nightmare I fully expected and this mama is so tired that I almost can’t even function. Yet, I do. Because… parenthood.

After two and a half years of being the proud and heavily caffeinated mom to a poor sleeper, I have heard it all. Everything from “have you tried monster spray (to rid the room of monsters he is not yet afraid of)?” to “if my child slept like that, I would have quit a while ago.” I’m not entirely sure what you mean by quit and it doesn’t sound entirely legal. People are quick to jump in with ideas and suggestions. Especially fellow moms who knows the pain of sleep deprivation. The motive is good. The delivery sounds a lot like judgement to an exhausted mom struggling to make it from one day to the next.

Nearly everyone knows that my adorable bundle of toddler goodness has never been a champ at the at sleeping. Hell, I – honest to god – know newborns who sleep better than he’s ever slept. What most people don’t know is the guilt that lies behind every smile I present and every selfie we take. It’s impossible to lie awake at 2am (for the fifth time that night) with your toddler and not feel like a failure. At least, for me it is.

Yes, I have read the books. I’ve listened to the podcasts. I’ve worked with a few professionals. I’ve read blog after blog about sleep and toddlers. No, none of it has helped. Come midnight, he’s calling my name. Come morning, everyone is tired and cranky and I’m already dreading nap time and inevitable chaos. At secretly hating myself. Because, surely, I have somehow massively failed my child. Therefore, when you chime in with your ideas or exclaim that you’ve never heard of such a thing before, the voices of self doubt get louder.

Instead, try coffee. Simply pat me on the head and offer coffee. Throw in some free childcare and you’ll be my hero in life. Make a conscious effort to resist the urge to remind me that these are the moments and he will only be small for a short period of time. Yes, that’s probably true. But it also doesn’t negate the fact that I’m so tired that every muscle in my body hurts and without coffee I might actually cease to function entirely. It doesn’t offset the hours spent awake every night and does only a little to make the epic tantrums that erupt every single night any less frustrating. Will I look back when he’s 20 and think “god… I really miss that month of being awoken every hour on the hour by him when he was 2.” I doubt it. But I could be wrong, open to that possibility. Right now, however, I’ve been awake since god knows when and there’s no relief in sight. I have no reason to believe tonight will be any different.

I’ve got a new strategy and a whole lot of coffee… but I’ve had both those things before.

So, rather than tell me all about what I could try. Try just being there. Because  many don’t realize  that having a child who doesn’t sleep much at night is rife with a loneliness that comes from spending hours awake at night by yourself (or with an angry tiny human) and wondering why on earth you can’t solve this problem. Coffee, hugs, childcare offers and cake do a whole lot more to soothe the tired than suggestions and advice.

Just a friendly reminder– in the event that you encounter another mama with kids that don’t sleep at ages when they really should be.

And, finally, some crafts we have done recently. Expect blogs with directions and thoughts to come in the next week… or so.

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