It's always such a relief when my kids are finally asleep. It's the release of a day's worth of sighs. The long-awaited quiet is a back rub for my brain. Two or three hours later, one of the two kids is awake and in our bed or on our floor, but I seem to forget about that every night around 8:30.
And there's a reason it feels so good when our kids are asleep. From day one, a child's sleeping habits are an ever-present factor in how the rest of life functions.
"Is the baby sleeping well?" is like THE first question you are asked when you bring home a snug little baby bundle. This question comes spewing out of my mouth when my friends have babies and I always regret it. No their baby is not sleeping. And even if the baby is sleeping chunks of four or six hours that still seems like no sleep to a new parent who is used to sleeping with the leisurely, unbridled abandon only enjoyed before children.
Here's my thinking on why we ALWAYS ask that. Either
- Your kids didn't sleep, and you want to know that others are not sleeping as well so a huge, tired, chunk of your life feels validated.
- Your kids did sleep and you want to beleaguer the new parents with tips and methods and theories about infant sleep.
Swaddling, crying it out, sound machines, dream feedings, co-sleeping, jiggling the baby like pudding on their left side and swaddling while shhhh-ing with every ounce of energy you can muster at 9:00 p.m. after an hour and a half of attempting to get the newborn to sleep.
All that seems like forever ago now, and I think I have actually used every method listed there on one kid or the other. And you know what, the best advice I ever received about kids and sleep was from Hank's first pediatrician. She said, "There are a lot of books out there written about getting your child to sleep, and they were all written by people who's children slept."
That was a light bulb moment for me.
I'm not doubting that the aforementioned methods didn't become a useful part of your bedtime routine with your kids. And if they did, and you are currently reading this while your kids are asleep with your feet up and a glass of wine, I'm jealous (and happy for you.....but mainly jealous).
We've never had sleepers despite our best efforts. So that's why the first few minutes of a quiet house, when the noise of the day has given way to heavy eyelids is still so glorious. That's also why I'm typing this on my phone, in the dark, from the sagging 1/3 of a twin bed while my son sleep breathes next to me.
Enjoy a glass of wine for me as I contemplate how to contort my body so as to get off of the bed without any noticeable weight displacement in the mattress lest I be discovered as I attempt to exit the room.
The sleep-training method that's worked for us is STITEO (Suffer Through It Then Eat Oreos).