"When will I sleep again?" is a question I often find myself asking at 2, 3 or 4am in the morning when my 17 month old insomniac is running rings around me like its the most natural time in the world to be awake, playing games, reading books, watching pocoyo, singing songs and generally getting into mischief!
As a mother of more than one child I know that sleep will probably happen again one day, but my son was never anything quite as crazy as my daughter and he would sleep all night and fall asleep just about anywhere at the drop of a hat! As much as they're very much alike, they are on opposite ends of the clock when it comes to everything else - she thinks she's going to miss out on something, while my son, who is now in his teens, just wants to sleep, skate or eat, and not always in that order either!
I know that for first time mothers it can be extremely frustrating those first couple of years as you weave your schedule around the child and figure out a routine that works best for YOU, but it does get easier, I assure you!
Personally, I remember having a LOT of fun with my dad when I was child in those twilight hours. He was very tolerant of us being awake at night and he never sent us back to bed - instead, we would sit up and play checkers or draw, talk or sit and have a snack and play cards! It was always fun in our house and I think it made life a little easier knowing that being awake at night didn't mean the end of the world - I certainly appreciate all the star gazing, UFO spotting, ghost stories, night watching and just general silliness we used to get up to as children! My sister and I most definitely didn't have a conventional childhood, but it was definitely a memory builder and I can never put a price on that!
As I have gotten older, I have started to realize just how much of a strain it must have been on my dad as a single dad, with no help or anyone to lean on with 2 girls running rings around him day and night for years on end! He handled it well and I can only hope that one day my children look back as fondly of me when I'm older, but times are changing and sitting up with checkers isn't quite as exciting to most kids as sitting on a computer all night or hiding out in a room watching T.V - We HAVE to try though and we have to let them know we're there for them, for that game of checkers, to star gazing or for general craziness in the early hours, without it being too big of a deal!
It is sometimes better to embrace it than to fight it! And if a child is going to be awake, it may as well be fun for all involved!
But, even with all the fun you could be having while the world sleeps, it isn't for all, so fear not, there WILL come a time when you will get a full nights sleep again if you hold in there and get into the routine that fits for you! Remember, there is NO right or wrong way to parent, just a way that works for your individual needs, and a way that doesn't - you have to figure that out for yourself, but you really can do it however it comes and you can make it whatever you want! And there is MORE good news, folks! How ever you achieve it, not only will you get to sleep some day in the future, you may even find time for a BOOK, a hot cup of tea or even be able to visit the bathroom without taking those babies with you! But hold on now, one step at a time...!!
Just remember - you are NOT alone in traversing that parenting tight rope and no matter how much you think everyone else is coping better than you are, you might not see the full picture so it is worth bringing it up if you are tired or a little stressed - there is no manual for parenting and we all need a little help sometimes and often just hearing that you're not the only person sitting up at crazy A.M with a hyper toddler or napping every chance you get, or hiding out in the bathroom for 10 minutes of quiet time etc is all you need to make it through another day! Remember, those little people will grow up so fast and one day you'll look back and just wonder where all those years went and wish to get them back, so ENJOY them!
Last night, my daughter made it through the entire night - which is actually a stretch even for her! I usually do get to bed by midnight, often by 10, but she was wide awake and finally decided to give in at 4:00am just as my husband's alarm went off for him to get up for work! Suffice to say, I didn't sleep too much myself last night, but we had fun, and you'll be sure I'll be napping on and off as the day goes by, just to keep up with her...if she takes a nap that is! If not, there is always coffee!!
Let me know how you get through a sleepless night! What keeps you going when your body thinks you're trying to be a comedian and when the baby thinks they're in another time zone?
Come on little night owls, lets PLAY!!