Everywhere I look, whether its emblazoned on t-shirts or bemoaned on Twitter there are Mum’s making statements about how little their kids sleep. Every time I see one I just shrink into the corner! Even the BBC has jumped in now – talking about the pros and cons of sleep training. Some experts are quoting that it is usual for kids to be up during the night right round until they are two. I honestly can’t imagine that happening in my house.
Both of my kids have slept through the night since they were 12 weeks old. My son in fact started sleeping through when he was 8 weeks (I used to wake both of them at 11pm for a dream feed before there is outcry about malnourishment!) By sleeping through the night I mean they sleep from around 6.45pm through to 7.30am. Every. Night. We go through the same routine every night. Tea, play, bath, milk, story, bed. Without fail, we religiously stick to it.
There is never any complaint from our eldest – never the request for one more story, another drink, another wee; nothing. He climbs into his bed, his head hits the pillow and that is the end of it. By 6.30pm Pudding is begging for her bed – she downs that milk, dons her sleeping bag and I lay her in her cot with her comforter. She is asleep within 5 minutes. Heaven forbid you should wake either of them before 7am. Very rarely do I reach the bottom of the stairs and either of them is still awake.
So are we evil parents? Have I trained them like Pavlov’s dog to sleep? I am starting to wonder. It certainly wasn’t a conscious thing. I always believed that kids need structure and routine. I never used sleep training methods, I don’t have any strong feelings either way about cry it out or people who keep their kids in bed with them until they are 8. Each to their own in my opinion.
For us the structure worked and I guess we have a certain confidence in our own parenting. I don’t charge up the stairs to every squeak I hear, I don’t rush in to soothe every slight moan in the night. Equally I know the difference between a partially awake self soothing moan and a cry that needs my attention. Watch and wait is the motto in our house. If either of the children wake in the night, I wait just a couple of minutes. Do they need me? Or will my presence prevent them from going back to sleep? Is that a cry of frustration because their sleep cycle has ended or have they had a bad dream and need a quick cuddle.
The other thing I hear from other parents so frequently is that their child gets up at 5am, every day. This totally baffles me. How can this be good for anyone? Children need sleep to grow, adults need sleep to function. On very rare occasions, one of the kids may wake before 7am. If they are unable to self soothe in a couple of minutes then I will go in and put them back to bed. Never in a million years would I take them out of their room and downstairs to play. Why would I reinforce behaviour that I don’t want?
We do appear to be in the minority. But I honestly can’t begin to imagine how other parents cope. My kids are on the go from the moment their eyes open and by 7pm they are not the only ones in need of a rest! I also feel that it is so important for parents to get some ‘together’ time. Even if that is just curled up on the sofa with the latest box set and a large glass of red!
The fact that my kids sleep is both a blessing and a curse. I know that this post will be met with a bombardment of unpleasant comments – probably along the lines of ‘well good for you love, why don’t you jeff off.’ But I am hoping that the hiding out there behind the wall of tired Mum’s is another bunch of Mum’s. Who believe like me that kids not only can sleep through the night, but that a good bedtime routine works and that the whole house benefits from a great nights sleep. (Alternatively I await the mob….)