The Benefits Of A Bad Sleeper
“What?!” I hear you gasp, at the very thought of there being an “UP” side of having a bad sleeper. Well, yeah, there are some. At least for my little boy.
Elliot is now coming up to four years old, and up until a couple of months ago, we had next to no routine. No matter how hard we tried to get this little guy to go to bed, and stay asleep, it was just not happening.
There were many things that led us to just letting him stay up until he was ready, and after starting his night in his own bed, generally ending it in ours, and just like most people who have a bad sleeper, you just do what works for you and your family.
Other People’s Opinions
We copped a lot of crap over our sons (lack of) sleep. Which I can imagine that most people with a bad sleeper can relate to. (Or really anyone, over some aspect of child rearing) And I beat myself up over it too. I felt like a failure some nights. Like maybe there was some truth in being told my son not sleeping was because I was a bad mother. (Though this only hit me in the worst of bad nights, and not for very long. I am, after all, an awesome Mum!)
What I have learned over this last 3+ years, is that having a bad sleeper is not all BAD.
Once we accepted that Elliot would go to sleep wherever, as long as Mummy or Daddy (or both if a really new situation) went with him, and he was actually ready to go to bed, we were set. It does not matter if we are in a strange place, if it’s loud, or too bright, or too dark. As long as he was super tired, had milk, was all wrapped up snug, had his teddy and dummy, and he thought Mummy was going to sleep too, so he was not going to miss anything, he was ok to go to sleep. Failing that, I would just cuddle him until he fell asleep. It might have been 1am, but that was our normal.
He was not thrown by his surroundings. During the day was even easier. If we were going somewhere, I knew he would fall asleep in the pram, or having a cuddle. I had no idea when it would happen, but it didn’t matter, we were relaxed about it. We stopped worrying about how a day sleep would affect his night sleep. W just rolled with it. So he was calm and happy no matter where we were.
Now that he is nearly four, he is a pretty relaxed, happy go lucky kid, who is not thrown by much. And handles new situations with confidence and excitement. I put a lot of that down to having a flexible attitude towards his sleep.
I learned to knit and crochet, and I started sewing again. Through having a bad sleeper, I picked up new hobbies that can be done anywhere, any time, quietly, and actually kept me awake when Mr Monkey was on an all night bender.
And best yet, are actually productive! You can bet that most of the Mums you know who started crafting after having kids did so in an attempt to keep the sleep deprived insanity at bay. After all there are only so many kids movies you can sit through, only so many nursery rhymes you can sing, stories you can tell, before you just give up and sit staring at the wall hoping they will JUST GO TO SLEEP! Take up a hobby and the time goes much faster, before you know it you’ve crocheted a pony and your little one is asleep on the floor with the dog.
Through Elliot being a “bad sleeper” both of us have had to learn to just push on. We have learned to get on with things even if we are tired or cranky. We can’t always schedule things around when Elliot might fall asleep, or wake up, or how good/bad a night it was. So we just get on with it. The unpredictability of our night times has taught us to just deal with it, to put a smile on and face the possibilities of the day.
This has lead to a little boy who is willing to try pretty much anything. That it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t feel 100% up to something, he will try anyway. He is always ready for an adventure, and does not care at all if he “fails” because just giving it a go is awesome.
There’s More To Life
Having a “Bad Sleeper” has taught our family that there is more to life than going to bed on time.
It has taught us to take whatever comes our way. It has taught us that we are strong. It has taught us that there are so many types of “good parents” and just because it has taken us three and a half years to get a bedtime happening doesn’t make us “bad parents.”
The little boy we have, is kind, and funny, and thoughtful, and considerate, with a wild imagination. He is clever, and full of beans, and full of life. He is curious, and confident, and can also be shy. He has so much of me in him, and so much of his Dad. He is so much more than his sleeping habits. And he is so very loved, in spite, and because of them.