If you’re looking for some kind of life hack or the secret to this $1000000 question, you’re in the wrong place.
Unfortunately there is just no such thing as a normal sleeping routine with a newborn. No matter what you do or how many books you read, you’re going to have sleepless nights.
So how do you cope when it’s 4am, you’ve had no sleep and you’re at your wit’s end?
1. Flip the situation
I suffered many stressful sleepless nights with a crying baby and I was struggling. I got frustrated a few times and then I cried hysterically with guilt. But one night I decided something’s gotta give…
For me, the biggest breakthrough I had was a change of mentality. Rather than trying and trying to get her to sleep because I wanted to sleep, I just thought to myself “Okay, I’m up. My day starts now.”.. Even though it was 3am and I’d only had 2 1/2 hours sleep.
So now, instead of rocking her to sleep for 30min, falling asleep for 10min and then being woken up again by her screaming and feeling like stabbing myself in the head, I was sitting on the couch watching TV and having some cuddles with my little baby – a much better situation to find myself in. And murphy’s law, just as I had done this, 30min later she was fast asleep!
It’s not easy, but if you can change your mindset, you can flip the situation and usually as soon as you’ve accepted that he/she isn’t sleeping, suddenly 30min later they’re dead to the world, because they’ve sensed calm and not tension – baby’s really pick up on that stuff.
Try to put yourself in their shoes.. Would you go to sleep just because someone else told you to? No, not if you’re not tired.
The other thing that got me through the sleepless nights was just telling myself again and again “This won’t last forever.” and “She will go to sleep eventually.” ..This probably seems obvious, but when you’re stuck in a rut and you’re tired and crabby, it’s easy to lose sight of these facts and start a downward spiral of dark thoughts such as “Is this really what my life is now?” and “What the hell have I gotten myself into”.
3. Follow Suit
I know you’ve heard this one before – sleep when they sleep.
This goes hand in hand with number 1. Your baby will eventually sleep at some point and when he/she does, make sure you sleep too if you’ve had a rough day/night. It’s tempting to neglect this for watching TV or doing housework or whatever else you were unable to do while you were dealing with a crying baby now that you’ve finally got some peace and quiet, but sleep deprivation truly does make everything seem worse than it is and you need to get the rest even if you can’t sleep for the sake of your mental health, because it’s a sure thing that baby will wake up again and will probably be a handful all over again.
4. Invoke an SOS
If you find yourself at breaking point and unable to flip the situation mentally, or if you are finding yourself going into microsleep, it’s important to have someone who you can ask for help if the worst case scenario arises.
It’s easy to feel like you can’t or shouldn’t bother someone for example if your partner has returned to work and has to be up in the morning, you may feel like you shouldn’t wake them.. But if you’re at risk of microsleeping, or about to explode, it’s far better to wake them before that happens. Even a 5min break can make the world of difference!
5. Do what works for YOU
Everyone has an opinion these days and everyone thinks they know best. This opens the door to a lot of judgement and second guessing yourself.
Yes, there are some ‘rules’ that should always be followed, but there’s also something called maternal instinct. You know what’s best for you and your baby, so don’t discount something because a professional says it’s not good.
Very occasionally, Caedence sleeps in my bed with me (like literally right next to me) because sometimes the only way she will sleep is if I breastfeed her laying down in the bed belly-to-belly. If I try to move her to her bassinet she will wake and cry and I got tired of repeating the same steps of soothe, fall asleep, put in the bassinet, wake up and cry over and over again.
The experts say this is a huge no-no and admittedly I was nervous the first couple times I left her sleeping next to me rather than risk waking her when it’s taken hours for her to finally fall asleep. I was at a point where the consequences of sleep deprivation were greater than the risk of me rolling on top of her, so I trusted that my maternal instinct would prevent me from forgetting she was in bed with me and end up rolling ontop of her in my sleep, and I was right.
We both got sleep (even though I was only 3/4 sleeping and always conscious of her being there) and it saved a lot of frustration, tears and potential sleep deprivation.