I must begin by telling you I have not really slept for 6 years. If your kids sleep through the night, you might think this entire post is insane.
When I was pregnant with my first and we visited some friends with 3 kids, the eldest of whom was then 8, the mom in that family said, super casually, “I haven’t slept through the night in 8 years.”
I thought she was insane, or crazy, or lying. Maybe mistaken?
So, now I have 3 kids and haven’t really slept since my mid-20s. What I have done is surrender to night-time parenting. It’s just part of my life and prioritize anything that nets the most sleep for the entire family unit. We don’t even refer to our rooms by an owner’s name. We refer to them by their paint color.
Each room has mattresses scattered about where different combinations of parents and sons sleep curled up in a heap…unless someone wets the bed. That person gets moved to a sleeping bag.
Because, with 3 young boys, it’s always something. When the baby isn’t teething, the toddler has an ear infection. When he’s feeling normal, the kindergartener has growing pains. Or someone has a nightmare. Or there’s some type of injustice, such as a pillowcase that is not purple.
Whichever grownup is closest swoops in to the awake child to whoosh him away from the other sleeping people, and then that grownup does not tag out for help unless things are dire. No, that grownup must hold fast and get that awake child back to sleep.
I’m the lighter sleeper, so this person is often me…but the wakeful child is most often the baby, who mostly sleeps in my armpit and just nurses back to sleep relatively quickly.
Many nights, after lots of shenanigans, we’ve got 4 sleeping family members and 1 grouchy, wide-awake grownup, but this is just so much better than the alternative: 5 sleep-deprived, weeping, irritable family members forced to wade through a bleary day.
We fantasize about getting a bigger house, one with bedrooms large enough for king-sized beds where we can all sleep in a heap, close enough that maybe a well-timed back pat could prevent a full wakeup session.
For now, we dart between rooms comforting small boys in matching pajamas. As we rock them to sleep, we tell them they need good jobs to purchase us a napping cottage in the south of France.
What do you do to maximize family sleep? Leave us a comment to share your experiences.