“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” -Leo J. Burke
It was December 23, 2002. On this cold winters night, I crawled into bed and slept a solid, blissful, uninterrupted 8 hours. Why do I remember the exact date? Because it would be the very last time I slept 8 hours straight. The next night, Christmas Eve, my beautiful daughter Ava was born. And I haven’t slept the same since!
I’m now the mother of five kids, ages 12, 11, 6, 3 and not quite 2. You would think by #5 I would be a professional baby whisper. The mere touch of my hand would make a child fall instantly into deep slumber for at least 8 magical hours. Instead, my own darling little tot still wakes up at 3am screaming for a bottle. By the time I get him back to sleep, I usually return to my bed to find a 3 year old sleeping sideways. He’s often joined by at least 2 more of my baby bears that have tested all the beds in the house and decided Mamas is “just right.” Its a King size bed filled with love. But not a lot of quality sleep.
If you’re a new mom, I guarantee you’ve purchased at least one (or five) books on sleep. The only problem is you’re so sleep deprived you can’t seem to get past the first page. Despite my current situation, I have found a few things that worked for me when it comes to getting more sleep as a new parent.
1. SLEEP WHEN YOUR BABY SLEEPS
I have mixed emotions about this one. Yes we all know we should sleep when the baby sleeps. But there are certain things we need to get done and this is our only opportunity. My advice? Sleep when your baby sleeps as much as you can. It really is important. Accept your house is a bit messy and give yourself a break. I spent way too much time trying to keep the perfect home. At the end of the day, you will never get these moments back. Sleep so that when your baby is awake you will be ready to play!
2. ASK FOR HELP
This was the most challenging for me. I felt guilty if someone else watched my baby while I took a nap. But sleep is not a luxury, its a medical requirement. Friends and family love nothing more than holding a sweet newborn baby. Trust me, you can take a 2 hour nap and still be a great mom!
3. ONE NIGHT ON, ONE NIGHT OFF
You and your spouse take turns getting up with the baby. This works very well for women who are not breastfeeding. Pumping can help for those who do breastfeed and don’t mind their baby drinking from a bottle. Even if your husband will only do it one or two days a week, it can be fantastic. You will be amazed at how you feel after 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep!
4. MIDNIGHT POWER SNACKS
While heating up a baby bottle, or getting ready to nurse, have a power snack. Crackers, peanut butter or a glass of milk can give you the boost you need without keeping you up after a late night feeding. You will feel much better in the morning and have more energy.
5. THIS TOO SHALL PASS
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember you will sleep again. Babies grow up and the problems you’re trying so hard to solve now, will disappear in time. I promise you won’t need to let your 5th grader “cry it out” or break them of a binky. You will sleep again!! The question is with five kids… will I?
Let us know what worked for you as a new mom when it comes to getting a better nights sleep!
Read Kim’s bio here.