When you are due to become a parent, people will tell you how difficult it will be to adjust to your new baby waking you up in the night and you will try and prepare yourself for all of the ‘sleepless nights’. You may try and get lots of early nights in before your bundle of joy arrives and enjoy lots of lay ins (if you don’t already have children that is). You imagine being awake all night with a screaming baby that you will have to rock for hours. You may also imagine that your husband will be awake with you, but, well anyway. You imagine that this may continue for a few weeks or months until you establish a ‘routine’ and ‘sleep train’ your baby, just like the books say… (pahaha)
|My now 2 year old, before he inspired this blog post!|
Well, as a parent who has already done that bit, twice, I can tell you that it is a load of old crap. In reality, you wake up with your tiny baby during the night, feed them, change them and they generally settle back off again. You don’t even have to fully come around from your zombie like state. Also, just to be crystal clear, it was definitely you that got up, and your husband was almost definitely, still snoring in bed. My own husband was AMAZING at getting up with our youngest, the slightest sound and he was up. That was until our monkey was 3 days old, and then the husband went baby-deaf, I hear that is a genuine diagnosis. I’m sure I won’t be the only parent ever to tell you that newborn babies are easy in comparison to the toddler.
Now the toddler is a different and unique breed of child that will make you wish you had complained less during the baby days, because it is THESE sleepless nights that you should have been preparing for. These nights will make you wish you could rewind time to the counting of milk powder scoops and changing nappies while still half asleep, because your beautiful little sleeping cherub now wants to play row, row, row your boat at 3am. I was fortunate in that, my eldest slept through the night from about 8 months old and always has been a really good, heavy, sleeper…. like a log, heavy.
My youngest is a professional in all nighters and has probably trained his body to function at full speed, volume and strength, with next to zero sleep. It all started from the day he could stand up in his cot, he then realised that he could use the cot as a trampoline. Fun. Que weeks of shouting at the top of his voice and meowing like a cat, for hours, every night. There has been many a night that I have slept on our monkey’s bedroom floor, while he has watched loops of Peppa Pig on the iPad in the small hours. Some would say this is shoddy parenting, not me, that my friends is a modern day life hack for parenting toddlers that hate sleep.
After a face dive over the cot side, we had to upgrade him to a big boy bed, which brings the wonders of getting up to play, all night. Personal favourites of mine are the sound of all of the ball pit balls being kicked around the room, also him crying because he has sat in his toy box at 2am and has got his bum stuck! Not forgetting the beautiful, soothing sound of a large box of duplo being emptied onto the floor and then finally, my best (and worst) one is when I went to check on him and could not find him, after my heart stopped beating and I got over the general panic wtf thoughts, I found him in his wardrobe sitting on his toy box, I was greeted with a giggle, god only knows how long he was there waiting for me to think I lost him.
I could literally tell you so many more stories about staying up all night with a toddler, I am very, very experienced! But I must warn you, it doesn’t even end there, because once they have graduated toddler hood, they evolve into a new being, the child. Now, this is where you really do have your work cut out, whilst they aren’t that great at pulling all nighters anymore, they are armed with intelligence, the ability to plot against you and they are beginning to be aware of all your parenting flaws, such as forgetfulness. An example of this, is the quiet, sleeping 9 year old that you go upstairs to check on an hour or two after bedtime, only to find that the sneaky little devil has turned his TV volume down and is still building a village on Minecraft. When challenged, this intelligent being will remind you that you never categorically told him to go to bed, you just said pyjamas on and brush your teeth, and even though you said goodnight, you were obviously not quite clear enough!