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Can Mystical Woo Woo Get My Kids To Sleep Better?

[SPOILER: Of course it can't. Don't be daft. I'm just trying to lure you into reading my ramblings.]

Do you all know about cosmic ordering? Apparently Noel Edmonds is a big fan, and who am I to question the success-generating magic of the man behind Mr Blobby?

I'm a blogger, that's who - we're either here to wow the world with our [thoroughly unresearched] opinions or we're here to get free mascara, and I'm a forty year old woman who still doesn't know what foundation is for, so... yeah... leap to your own conclusions.

Anyway, as far as I'm aware, cosmic ordering means writing your loftiest goals on your hand in biro so that the Mystical Universe can read them and make them happen. Which I know sounds like a completely rational approach to life - much better than, say, putting in a lot of effort - but I tried this out when I was thirteen and I'm still not married to Jordan Knight from New Kids On The Block so take it from me: it's nonsense.

And yet... I kind of get it now that I'm parent.

Every evening, I pick up my phone and I press the "Do Not Disturb" icon; I add on an extra seven hours and I read the little message which pops up saying "Do Not Disturb: until 6:57am"; and I think: "That means you, children."

I think those actual words, every night: "That means you, children."

And a part of me - despite all evidence to the contrary; despite months and months of broken nights - firmly believes that setting my mobile phone to "Do Not Disturb" will stop my kids from waking up.

So far, I've had no success.

None.

Usually my three year old sleeps for a solid twelve hours, but my one year old wakes up at midnight, 3am, 5am and is up for the day at half seven. On those nights when my one year old sleeps through - what triggers this?! what is the magic step I'm taking but not properly noticing? has Noel Edmonds written a book which will explain it to me? - my three year old will wake up multiple times "needing tucked in" or claiming that the water which she never, ever touches isn't fresh.

Dialling in a cosmic order doesn't work.

I've said it before, but I don't think anything does. I don't think there's any one white-noise-and-orange-light emitting contraption or any one non-negotiable nap schedule or any one bath-book-boob/bottle routine which works for every kid, all of the time. What helped my first get to sleep irritates my second; what helps my second get to sleep enraged my first. One wanted held for naps and one doesn't want to be touched. One didn't sleep through until she dropped her last nap at eighteen months and the other slept through as the tiniest of babies but ditched the decent nights as soon as she started to wean.

This time around, I'm not looking for a simple solution.

Except for my phone, obviously.

And time.

Time is not a quick fix, but I do think it is a fix. I think my youngest will get to doing decent nights when she's ready (which, obviously, I'm hoping will be tonight. Or, failing that, tomorrow), and I'm trying not to let myself get too worked up about it.

Which is easier, for me, second time around, because I recognise the phases.

I recognise the nap transitions when there's no such thing as a schedule. This time they're easier because I'll bung her in the buggy, stick to our original plans and simply hope for the best, as opposed to cancelling everything and rocking my child for several hours, whilst crying.

I recognise the developmental leaps when each bedtime takes several thousand decades. This time they're easier because I'll let off steam by wandering through to the kitchen and telling Steve what ridiculous position our eldest is sleeping in and which nursery rhyme our youngest appears to be butchering at full volume in lieu of nodding off, as opposed to squatting by my child's bed, scared to leave the room in case she cries (side note: sometimes a good cry can be cathartic for me and sometimes a good cry can be cathartic for my kids and sometimes a good time for that cry is when their mind's buzzing so much that they can't get to sleep. Which doesn't mean stomping off and leaving them to cry it out - just that you don't have to completely freak out if there are tears at bedtime; they may actually be kind of helpful).

I recognise that those periods when bedtimes and night wakings and wake up times and naps all completely change, all at once, are actually periods of progress, rather than a carefully masterminded plot to break me. I know my youngest's wake ups and naps have suddenly become earlier (painfully earlier) because she's started going to sleep at her designated bedtime, and that it's no coincidence that her overnight sleep's been better this past week, too - I know that this is her body clock shifting out of "I wake up at half past seven and everything is set by that" to "I go to sleep at half past seven and everything is set by that". Which is good. Kind of. And doesn't mean I need to go on Amazon at 3am and order every book with the words "gentle" and "sleep" in its description.

But just because it's easier this time doesn't mean it's easy.

So I'm going to keep whispering "That means you, children" to myself every evening as I switch my phone to silent.

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