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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Good Sleep Habits.. Shared

As parents, we all have one thing that we lose when we have children.. Sex life? Social life? Our minds? 
Possibly... But today I'm going to talk about sleep. Ahh, sleep... before our child-rearing days sleep was something to be done for most of the weekend daytime, nursing our hangovers, slobbing on the sofa in and out of conciousness to the Corrie omnibus. 


Now we actually have to get in the mornings to feed, change and dress small people who like to make loud noises and drop breakfast all over your cream carpet. 

My children are good sleepers. I don't have generally drowsy children, dose them up on Medised and I'm pretty sure it's not luck either.

'I've been up since 5am this morning' Caroline whispers to me at the nursery run. 'You can tell', I thought. Poor woman.

I am a firm believer in routines for children. Start as you mean to go on, when Connor came home after the first few weeks of getting used to him, we started him on the routine our family has been following since Heidi came home. It's not a strict regiment, and we're quite relaxed about it, we just aim to get the same things done around the same time everyday and that's half the battle. 

Our day basically goes like this -
Sam gets up, followed by Heidi, who wakes me up, then 15 minutes later Connor wakes up.
Sam goes to work, I do breakfast for Heidi and a bottle and breakfast for Connor. 
We all get dressed and I take Heidi to nursery.
Connor and I go to the shops, then come home.
Connor goes for a nap, while I clean the house from top to bottom then sit on the pc until he wakes up.
Connor wakes up and we play, followed by his dinner, we play some more.
We pick Heidi up from nursery and come home. Connor has another nap.
Sam gets in from work, Connor wakes up and I make tea.
We eat tea, watch television/play and then it's pyjamas, stories and bed for the children at 7pm.

This happens everyday. We have done it since they were a few weeks old and because I manage to get everything done while Connor sleeps, I am relaxed for the rest of the day which makes a happy household! 

We had to use the controlled crying method with Connor, Heidi just slept through from 3 weeks and we never had any problems since.
Controlled crying is a method that effectively trains a child to become an independent sleeper, which means that they are able to fall asleep on their own, without the need of comfort from another person. Connor was in intensive care when he was born so he wasn't held hardly at all for the first 5 days. I think that because of this, when he was finally able to be held he didn't want to be put down, and I didn't want to put him down either. I was also breastfeeding and more often than not he slept in our bed. As he got bigger, it was harder for us to all sleep together so he had to go into his own cot as he was too big for the Moses basket. 

When we tried to put him to bed he would cry. And cry, and cry and cry. It was horrible, Sam couldn't bear to leave him crying so he would go and hold him, settle him and then as soon as he was put down he would cry again. Of course this only made it worse as we took turns running up the stairs every 2 minutes. He would wake up every single hour and I would have to go in to comfort him (Sam was back at work so I didn't think it was fair for him to have to get up in the night), I was absolutely exhausted, I lost weight and lost all my appetite, had dark circles around my eyes could barely hold a conversation. It couldn't go on.

So we left him to cry. The first time we left him for 5 mins, then 7 mins, then 10 mins. We left him for 15 minutes the first night, and by this time he was so exhausted from crying so we gave him a drink of water and he fell fast asleep. 

The second night was pretty much the same, and the third and fourth. After about 8 days after we put him to bed he cried for about 1 minute and stopped. After 5 minutes I crept upstairs into his room and he was fast asleep! That night he slept until 3am, had a feed and then slept until 7am. Honestly, I was on a high for the rest of the day. 

After that he has slept through pretty much every night since. When he's been poorly he hasn't, and recently it's been quite hot so he's woke up needing a drink but he goes to sleep after until morning.

A lot of people don't like the controlled crying method but I think that may be because they aren't sleep deprived enough. Every time he cried in the night I would wake up wanting to throw him out of the window (I didn't, of course! I was sleep deprived), and a few nights of crying, which can't hurt them, solved all our sleeping problems.) Now I put Connor in his cot and he will play for a bit and then fall asleep. 

So to anyone who is having sleeping problems but are unsure whether to use the controlled crying method, I would say don't knock it until you have tried it, it could be the answer for your family too.

Controlled Crying tips:
  • Be consistent. If you want it to work, you need to stick to it. Don't do it one night and not the next because it just won't work.
  • When you go in the room, don't pick baby up. You can comfort them in other ways though, personally we used a dummy with Connor.
  • Try not to make eye contact, keep it as quiet and boring as possible when you go into the room.

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