Thursday, February 16, 2017

My thoughts on sleep

I can be opinionated and sensitive but laid back about many things. My kids regularly play in mud, run around the back yard naked in the hose, we have dance parties in the middle of Kroger because it's a good song and my son is regularly seen in a spiderman costume. However, I lay my foot down about sleep...EVERY TIME!

When I was pregnant with our now six-year-old I read a book about sleep (Healthy sleep habits, happy child). I know there are differing views on crying it out, sleep training, and the best bed time. There are lots of books written that tell you what to do but few tell you why. The book I read taught about the science of sleep: why we need it and how the brain develops with it and without it. Before it told me what to do it explained the whys of sleep. For me this changed the game. It educated me on sleep so that I could make decisions for my kids, for myself and for caregivers and I knew why I was doing it that way. I knew how to problem solve issues as they arose at different ages, in different locations or busy seasons. It made me feel like an expert in one area. I am not an expert really in anything and as a new mom I felt so lost and clueless about my new role. But, I knew exactly how I felt about sleep and why that was the important issue for me that everything revolved around.

Our house still revolves around sleep. Wake time, nap time, bed time, duration...it is something that gets evaluated and taken into account for lots of decisions made throughout the day. It empowered me to know what my kids needed and why. It helped me show them grace when I wanted to give up, it helped me create a normal for them when everything else happening was far from normal.

I have seen them respond well to sleep. Bed time is not the worst time of our night...it is one of the best. We still have rest time and for me that is such a lovely expected routine. On weekends I nap! On weekdays I work or shower or get much needed quiet time while the older two to play games or listen to audio books in their rooms. Sometimes it allows me one-on-one time with them.

I often have friends whose babies aren't sleeping call me with questions. I love the puzzle of putting together sleep problems, of thinking through the small things that make big differences, and of encouraging them that sleepless nights aren't forever. When we are tired we forget that things will change, that they will grow...we feel out of control. My kids feel the same way. When they are tired they can't obey well, learn well, play well. Their emotions, just like mine, get the better of them!

Many nights my kids are in bed before 7 PM and my husband and I follow close to 9 PM, sometimes earlier. I have very early risers and and wake time is not something you can change very often. However tonight we are in new territory. My three-year-old isn't napping anymore so rest time is looking different but he fell asleep today and that throws off bedtime. There are many odd situations for us this month. Knowing how much sleep my kids need has helped me create a schedule for them in this month of abnormally. Understanding why my youngest is still awake at 9:30 PM helps me show him grace, go with the flow (not something I am great at) and speak the truth to myself that he isn't awake because I have no discipline in putting him in bed.

There are not many things that I am strict about with our kids but sleep is one that I need and they need! Hope I get some tonight and I hope you do too ;)

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