When Sharing Sleep Is Tiring

May 23rd, 2013 by Dionna | 16 Comments
Posted in Ensure Safe Sleep, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting

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When Sharing Sleep is Tiring

I often admit to newer mamas that some of my worst parenting moments with Kieran happened at bedtime. While Kieran has always required a lot of sleep, he was one of those children for whom Ferber built his empire. (He was also, however, one for whom Ferberizing would have never worked.)

Kieran was difficult to put down. He did not learn how to soothe himself back to sleep until he was a preschooler. In fact, I basically held and/or nursed Kieran while he was sleeping for about the first two years of his life.

I just went back through my local AP board (where I gripe to mamas in my home town), chuckling at posts like this one:

And he very rarely lets me put him down for naps – he had to be right in my f’n lap to sleep longer than 20 minutes. So here I sit for 3 hours a day with a kid snoozing away on my lap. I’m such a *do-er* – all my life I’ve been that type A person with way too much on her plate. So this forced slow-down has been pretty maddening for me (I’m definitely learning patience). There are days (like today) when I feel like I’m going to explode.
~A post I wrote when Kieran was 11 months old

I tried so many things: leaving one of my shirts he could smell/cuddle, putting him in a back carry, having a mother’s helper to decrease my daytime stress level (he refused to let her do anything with him), have Tom put him down, etc. etc. etc.

Nothing worked. And this was pre-smart phone days for me, and it was often difficult to get Kieran to sleep while multi-tasking.

Sleep was tough. There were nights I cried I was so angry. There were nights I handed Kieran to Tom and stomped out of the room. There were nights I felt like leaving him to cry alone, just to give myself a break. There were nights when I angrily demanded that he just. go. the. f. to. sleep. (No, I don’t particularly like that book, but I can commiserate with the sentiment.)

But Kieran needed to cosleep. He needed that nighttime comfort of having his parents present. If we would have tried sleep training (aka “crying it out“) with our sensitive kiddo, I think the results would have been disastrous.

When Sharing Sleep Is Tiring

And to be honest, when all was said and done, I liked having my little one with us. Yes, the actual putting down times were trying, but the bulk of our nights were fine. Later, I was sad when I was too busy tending to a newborn to snuggle my older child.

Fast forward a few years: Kieran is 5.5 years old, falls asleep quickly (usually) and easily (either one of us can sit in bed and read, play with a phone, and/or pat his back for a few minutes, then we can often get up and let him fall asleep solo). He still sleeps in the family bed, because that choice works for us (well, except for the occasional feet to Tom’s face).

And now I have toddler number two who gives me occasional cases of the crazies because of sleep issues. Ailia has been SO much easier with respect to sleep. She’s usually lets me lay her down (at least for a little while), she often soothes herself back to sleep if she rouses awake, and I don’t think she’s had quite as many late night parties as Kieran did.

But we still have the inevitable sleep woes. Teething. Developmental spurts. Stuffy noses (and the accompanying trouble nursing). And sometimes she just does not want to sleep unless she is snuggled securely against my chest.

There are still nights where I get angry, because I wish I had more hands free time to get work done. There are nights where I harshly demand that she just. go. the. f. t. sleep.

Thankfully, those nights are fewer and further between. Partially because we’re having an easier go of it with child #2, and partially because I know this time is fleeting.

This, too, shall pass.

Do you have sleep woes? What do you do when you reach the end of your rope at bedtime?

And be sure to sign up for the Natural Parents Network – Code Name: Mama – Hobo Mama Newsletter. Our topic for June is all about sleep!

When Sharing Sleep is Tiring

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16 Responses to:
"When Sharing Sleep Is Tiring"

  1. THANK YOU!!!! This week has been horrible trying to get my little girl (2 years old, almost 3) to sleep. We usually go to bed with her at 10 p.m., but Tuesday night she kept us up until 1:30 a.m. tossing and turning. I’m not a fan of that book either, but by 12:30 a.m., I was basically telling her to go to f*** to sleep. Last night was a bit better, but she’s been having trouble sleeping since Saturday, must be a developmental leap. We’re in the middle of potty training, so I’m trying to tell myself this too shall pass.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Those developmental leaps can wreak havoc on sleep schedules and behavior! I hope you find a good rhythm again soon.

  2. Carrie

    Thank you so much for posting this. I was worried something was wrong with my girl, she absolutely refuses to sleep alone. She is 3 months old and will only nap if I lay on the couch and nurse her to sleep. When someone is watching her she will only sleep for about 30 minutes and they have to hold her. It’s good to know that I am doing ok as a mom and that other people have made it through difficult sleep situations!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Your little one is so tiny, she’s just at the end of what a lot of people call the “fourth trimester” – she just remembers being all snuggled up, safe and cozy, inside you :)
      I’m sure you’re not sleeping with her on the couch, but check here for some good safe cosleeping resources: http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/ensure-safe-sleep/

      Many nights of peaceful sleep to you, Carrie!

  3. Varya @ CWOV   Varya

    Wonderful post. Parents have to more aware about co-sleeping and the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. There are in fact very few cases of children being suffocated in parents bed or children refusing to leave the parents bed till they are well grown-up.
    Before I had my first, I never thought about co-sleeping. It always looked so nice how babies in movies slept in their own beds, and when I was pregnant – how people talked about decorating the baby’s nurseries. When we had our first, we had her crib in our bedroom and soon after she migrated to our bed. I was breastfeeding it that worked so well for us. When she turned 3, I found out I was pregnant again and we told her it was time for her to move to her own bed. We got her a toddler bed and she moved easily, happily, no tears. She later moved to her own bedroom and she comes for morning cuddles when she wakes up.
    The little one is now co-sleeping with us and it is easier than it was the first time around.

  4. Monica

    We are at a point in our house where the giant 4yo is easing his way out of our bed. While I’m grateful for the nights where I have room to sleep, I also miss the cuddles. It is so bittersweet, this kids getting bigger thing. :-)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m with you on the bittersweet thing! Kieran has talked about having his own space. Hopefully we’re going to get a twin bed to put next to ours soon. That might be the beginning of the end!

  5. Jennifer Hoffman   EveryBreathBlog

    Oh how I can relate to this post! I’ve surely felt the anger and frustration. I’m on baby number 2 who also has to be held and or snuggled next to mama to sleep.

    While I would really like to have another baby, I sometimes wonder if I’m up for a few more years of my life revolving around a wee one’s sleep needs. Then, I quickly realize that this is a season. When I’m an old lady sitting in a rocking chair, I more likely to regret the child I never had because I was worried about sleep, than the things I didn’t get done because I was snuggling an attached sleeping babe.

    So, when the anger and frustration set in…I think of my old lady self in that rocking chair without a babe in my arms.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m with you on wondering about #3. The sleep I can handle. It’s more the car rides (wanting to take longer road trips as a family and not being able to with littler ones) and the cost for me ;)

  6. Jennifer Hoffman   EveryBreathBlog

    And…thanks for sharing with the Tuesday Baby Link Up community! I’d love to feature this post next week!

  7. Andrea Olson   GoDiaperFree

    I had loads of difficulty with my son being so dependent upon me for sleep (and staying asleep) that I was sleep-deprived for 2 years. Enter new husband. He got my son right on track with sleep, one night when I was out at a dance class. Within 2 days my son was going to sleep on a routine, staying in bed, and not crying a bit about it. Just goes to show that I create my woes with my kiddos…and luckily hubby is a fine example of a parent who finds it natural to put healthy boundaries into place…for all of us! I am 100% all natural with regarding to child-rearing. AND…there’s something to be said about doing what feels right and not judging ourselves for setting boundaries that help everyone. CIO isn’t good, and isn’t necessary….there is something located smack in between that and the experiences we’ve been describing on this page…and I hope to uncover and elaborate on that middle way at some point soon in a future book. For now, I’m feeling empathy and remembrance and planning something different for #2!

  8. Shannon @ GrowingSlower   growingslower

    Our 22 month old has always had such a hard time staying asleep, but now he’s started having trouble getting to sleep too. You give me hope that someday it will get easier! Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link Up!

  9. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    I can relate so much to this. There was pretty much nothing besides being next to my son, cuddling, rocking, or hugging him that could have gotten him to sleep through the first two years, and although there were many, many special moments, there were also many moments of frustration. Luckily, sleep is also easier for Little Sister, and I have really been able to relish co-sleeping much more.

    I’m featuring this post at The Tuesday Baby Link Up tomorrow. Thanks for linking up!

  10. My daughter is the EXACT same way. She is now 11 months old, and next month I plan to wean her… and also begin the “cry it out method” to see if she can learn to soothe herself to sleep. But like you, I feel like it will be disastrous. I have never had help. My husband gets up early for work so I have always tried to keep her quiet during the night so he can get sleep. I am dreading sleep training her …

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I know how hard it can be to feel like you need changes, but you’re not sure of the most gentle, respectful way to get to the other side. It’s fabulous that you are doing a full year of breastfeeding – good for you!! If you’re not quite sure whether you are ready to wean, I’d be happy to share with you the benefits of nursing past infancy – it’s a passion of mine :) If weaning is simply the right choice for you and your daughter, I encourage you to check out the video series I put together on gentle weaning (video 1 – preparation, video 2 – support, video 3 – emotions, video 4 – relationship, video 5 – gentle weaning advice).

      As far as crying it out, I’d never advocate for parents to use that method intentionally. I think the voice inside yourself telling you how much you are dreading it is a valid one. Did I ever have a night where Kieran cried with a safe adult near him? Yes. But I did not leave him alone to cry – there have been studies to show the extreme stress and duress children go through. Would you consider perhaps letting your partner help get her to sleep at an earlier hour? Can you rearrange sleeping arrangements so you can attend to her more easily during the night? Is your husband really bothered by her – maybe you’re being hyper sensitive when he is not feeling overly stressed? I wonder if you could explore options that felt better for you, your husband and your daughter. I’d be happy to ask on my Facebook page – my readers usually have some great ideas!

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