Dear Mum Who’s Child Can’t Sleep
Dear Mum Who’s Child Can’t Sleep,
“Don’t use milk to get them to sleep!”
“Do what this book says and your baby will sleep on their own within days!”
“Leave them to cry for a while!”
“Avoid eye contact and don’t speak to them!”
Every mum and their dog has advice for you when you are the mum of the child who can’t sleep.
The latest ‘Super Nanny’ will tell you that she can come to sort your baby or your child out in just three days. The fact that she probably doesn’t even have kids herself is by the by!
You feel shattered emotionally and physically and wonder what you are doing wrong……………..
Well let me tell you, there is nothing that you are doing wrong. Some babies and children just don’t possess the ability to get themselves to sleep. Trust me, I should know!
My eldest son is turning nine this week. Ever since he was a tiny baby he has not been able to get to sleep at night. His mind is whizzing around at a hundred miles an hour. Every little sound is magnified ten times more than usual as the house stands quiet whilst his brothers fall asleep. The fish tank bubbles in his bedroom sound like the ocean on a stormy night. The knock of the central heating pipes sounds like someone is banging his bed with a sledge hammer. The tv show that he watched earlier that day is whirring around his head again and again. The more tired he gets, the more agitated he becomes and the harder it is to drift off. It is a vicious circle.
When he was a baby he couldn’t tell me what was wrong. Crying was his only means of communication and all of us mums know how a crying baby and a sleepy head mix about as well as a bar of dairy milk and a diet! My husband always tells me I have the patience of a saint though and I would literally sit there for hours at a time singing the same lullaby over and over again whilst holding his hand.
In recent years he has been old enough to read to himself in bed. We will always agree on a time for lights out but invariably he will still be lying there awake at 10pm…………..even 11pm. He is so tired by this point that I just need to hold his hand for a short while for him to relax into the much needed world of dreams.
I’m not gonna lie, it is tough. It puts pressure on you. It puts pressure on your marriage. It puts pressure on your family. There are nights where I feel at my wits end as I picture all of my friends happily watching tv with their husbands whilst their kids have been tucked up in bed since 7pm. It is especially hard at the moment as my two year old is also struggling to fall asleep at night. I am bracing myself for years of lost evenings as he follows the same path as his big brother.
But when they finally do fall asleep I feel the stress just ooze away from me and I remember that they can’t help it. Many adults suffer from insomnia so they will understand only too well how frustrating it is not being able to fall asleep even when you are beyond tired. Imagine how frustrating that must be for a child.
I do what I can to help my son. I hold his hand to give him comfort. I massage him to relax his agitated body. I call upon my distant memory of my reflexology training to balance his chakras and expel all the negative energy. I have even taken him for cranial sacral therapy before but the jury is out as to how beneficial that proved to be.
The best thing that I can do for him is to understand. Tonight I let myself down. Feeling exhausted I shouted at him for calling me back yet another time and told him just to go to sleep. ‘But how do I do that Mum?’ he cried.
He isn’t trying to be difficult. He isn’t doing it for attention. He just can’t sleep. Ten minutes later I went to see him again and held his hand as I watched him tossing and turning as he battled to close his eyes.
If all else fails I now tell him to hold tight whilst I brush my teeth and get in my pj’s and then I climb in with him hoping that the world of sleep that comes so easily to me will be contagious.
So, mum of the child who can’t sleep, you can see here that you are not alone. Please stop blaming yourself and following the advice of mum’s who cannot understand what you go through. Just go and sit by your child’s bed and hold their hand and know that somewhere out there another mum is doing just the same as you.
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