I Can Operate On 6 Hours of Broken Up Sleep, Right?: Trading Sleep for Play

 I believe most moms all struggle with the same battles.  Most of them rooted in the basic human needs of our children…eatingsleeping, and pooping.

From the day they are born we stress ourselves out over whether they are not eating enough or they’re eating too much, or if we are even feeding them the right things.  I was blessed with babies who spit-up more than their fair share of food.  Which when you’re a breastfeeding mom is kind of a slap in the face.  I mean, I work so hard to produce that milk, you could at least keep it down.

Eventually, I came to realize that both of my kids don’t fare so well with dairy products.  Yet adding another element to the whole fiasco that is feeding my children.

Unfortunately, we didn’t discover this dairy issue for my son until after we found ourselves in the ER due to stomach pains from severe constipation.  Needless to say, we don’t play around when it comes to dairy in my household.  My son knows cow-milk is a no-no (as much as he loves it), and has no qualms with eating goat or sheep’s milk products.

Now that my son is a toddler, we have a whole new battle, which is getting him to eat anything I feed him that is not snack food.  My husband and I are relatively good about mostly only allowing our kids to eat nutritious food, but we aren’t strict on this by any means.  We occasionally let Brantley have treats, even candy.  The last thing I want is him going wild and crazy when the day comes that he can make his own food choices not under my supervision.  With that being said, he doesn’t like any meal I put in front of him unless it is macaroni and goat cheese or the “chicken with the sauce” as he likes to call it, which is just boneless chicken tenders from Beef O’ Brady’s with garlic parmesan sauce on it (parmesan is such small quantities he doesn’t have issues).  So pretty much every meal we have to negotiate to get him to eat his food.  But I can’t remember the last time he ate an actual vegetable, the kid won’t touch salad, and meat is a 50/50 chance depending on the type of meat and its preparation.

Moving on…

I’m going to skip sleep for a moment to discuss pooping.  No one talks much about this topic before you have a baby.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that having a baby meant I had to study poop on a daily basis.  You have to worry yourself about frequency, consistency, and color.  Really?!?  And when they are bitty babies with bitty diapers, it’s almost impossible to avoid blowouts.

Once you get to the potty-training stage the game changes.  Now you have to teach a little human being how to stop whatever fun activity they’re doing, whether that be watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or playing with Legos, and use the potty.  I can understand why Mickey wins out, for a toddler the choice is clear.

I will admit, however, that I have been pretty lucky in this category with my son.  He pretty much started pooping in the potty at 18 months.  Obviously, he has had a few accidents since then, but very few and far between.  Peeing is a whole different story, but enough with the potty talk already


So then there is sleeping…the most treacherous of the bunch unless you happen to be one of those mythological moms with their unicorn babies that sleep soundly for 8 hour stretches through the night, in their own beds.  If you are one of those moms…God bless your little heart, but I hate you.

No, I’m kidding…I just envy you a WHOLE LOT.

From the day my son was born he has been a terrible sleeper.  And by terrible I mean TERRIBLE!  This kid woke up every hour to hour and half for approximately the first six months of his life.  Needless to say I was T-I-R-E-D.  I mean tired like I had never known tired before.  The type of tired that makes you snap on someone over the smallest things, and cry at the drop of a hat.  It was very hard to be a fully functioning human being at that level of tired.

By the grace of God, I made it through that stage alive, and somehow convinced myself that I wouldn’t mind having another baby one day.

Even after making it through that stage, Brantley was still a terrible sleeper and woke up every 2 to 3 hours.  Not great, but an improvement.  His sleep gradually, but steadily improved and now at 3 years old he’s no longer a terrible sleeper…once you get him to sleep.  Now we just fight over getting him to go to sleep and to sleep in his own bed instead of mommy and daddy’s bed.  This has been a huge challenge but we have made a lot of headway in the last month or so.  We’ll just call it a work in progress.

Once Brantley’s sleep habits had transformed enough that I wasn’t completely exhausted anymore, right around that same time is when I found out I was pregnant with my second.  It was a very small window that I got to enjoy sleep again.

Having a new baby, you start all over again, and it’s kind of a crapshoot…maybe I’ll get a unicorn baby this time, but maybe I’ll get another baby that has some sort of spidey sense that alerts them every time I start to drift off to sleep.

Thankfully, the second time around I was blessed with a MUCH better sleeper.  In fact, she was such a better sleeper that it totally weirded me out that as a newborn she was sleeping for 6 hour stretches.  Now granted, this didn’t last long, but even now at 11-months old, she is a significantly better sleeper than her older brother ever thought about being at her age.

Payton, is actually great!  Most nights she wants to be asleep by 8 o’clock, and would much prefer to sleep in her crib, as opposed to attached to mommy the whole night.  Which is once again, a far cry from her brother who we just recently made the push for him to sleep in his own bed in his own room at 3-years old.  I know…I know, it’s mostly our fault because we indulged his bad habit, but I’ll just be honest, I had to choose between listening to him scream-cry in his bed with no end in sight, or him sleeping in the middle of our bed and me getting some rest.  It was a no-brainer at the time.

Now, even though Payton is a better sleeper than Brantley, I’m still struggling with sleep.  Payton goes to sleep around 8 o’clock, but Brantley usually won’t fall asleep until 9:30 and that’s with a lot of muss and fuss.  Once both kids are asleep, it’s like a whole new world!  That time is filled with ideas of grandeur.  I plan to use that time to get laundry done, catch up on some TV, study my Bible, read a book, write for my blog, take a shower, “butter my husband’s biscuit”…I mean the list is endless.  But who can accomplish all this in the time between when Brantley falls asleep and a decent bedtime?!?

Definitely not this chick!

Plus, I’m only guaranteed three hours from the time Payton falls asleep until she will wake up for the first time of the night.

This leads to the inevitable dilemma of do I sleep or play?

Do I keep reading my book or sleep?  Do I keep playing Candy Crush or sleep?  Do I write for my blog or sleep?  Do I watch one more episode of ________ or sleep?

These are the things that I’m only able to enjoy while the kids are tucked away fast asleep in their beds, not disturbing me.  So sometimes play wins out, but more often than not, sleep wins out.  If I’m lucky I can get a good 6 hours of broken up sleep, usually interrupted by my baby, but many times interrupted by both of my kids.

How do we do it moms?  How do we survive?

I’m sure it’s somewhat different for every mom, but there’s one major thing that helps me push on, and I hope it will help you too…remember, this is all temporary!  One day our kids will grow out of this needy sleep phase of their life, and we will once again be able to sleep for 7 to 8 hour stretches, mostly without being interrupted.  We will dream again…we will feel rested again.

We just have to push through these tough times of limited sleep, and look forward to the day when our kids will no longer need our help to sleep…but prepare ourselves for the new set of challenges that will inevitably arise when the old ones retire.

Hey…don’t be mad at me!  No one ever said parenting was going to be a picnic, they just said it would be worthwhile.  😉




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