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Challenge: Sleep Solutions

Nothing Lasts Forever- Dealing With Our Children's Sleep Challenges

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I typically offer one valuable suggestion when talking to new parents, and it has nothing to do with what to add to the registry. Nope. What I tell myself while raising four small kids, along with whoever else will listen, is....don't get used to anything, because nothing lasts forever. While this is actually a pretty decent metaphor for life, it can also help us deal with our little ones' sleep challenges. Your mind will immediately want to label this piece of advice as good or bad, but it is actually neither. It just is.

I was a different type of parent to my first child than I currently am. As a novice I wanted to figure everything out. I wanted to figure out why last night he gave me a 6 hr stretch but tonight he wanted to eat every 45 minutes. I would use my valuable energy looking in books, asking other moms and scouring the Internet to figure out how to handle his (and my) sleep challenges. I NEEDED to know why one day he could give me enough naps to fulfill all my TV binge watching needs and the very next day he had such difficulty napping that I didn't even have a chance to brush my teeth. Must be a growth spurt! Oh wait I know, he's teething! Oh no, I think he's getting sick!! What I realize now is that by the time I had it "figured out" he was sleeping better anyway, and was also probably offering me some other kind of challenge. Fast forward seven years and 3 more children later and I handle all things thrown my way in a much more accepting fashion. Once I stopped trying to fix and label the current situation and accepted and experienced whatever I encountered, I was a more peaceful parent and had a more peaceful child. I never allowed myself to "get used to" the sleeping wins or the sleeping fails. This doesnt mean I get more sleep these days, quite the contrary, it just means that my outlook is everything.

By not getting used to any sort of sleep pattern you relinquish your need to cling to the fact that you might have one of those superstar infants that sleeps through the night at 6 weeks (do these REALLY exsist or are they little magical unicorn babies????), but you also don't have to commit yourself to a life of sleepless doom. And if you're still wondering how to get your child to have great sleeping habits I actually haven't a clue. 50% of my kids are great sleepers and 50% are just kind of "eh." I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong or right so I don't think I'm the person to offer up that type of advice. What I can do is encourage others to go with the ebbs and flows of life as peacefully as possible. When you do this something once labeled as a "challenge" doesn't really seem so challenging anymore. One day when we are all old and gray we will remember with fondness the times when someone needed us in the middle of the night and when the sound of our beating hearts could lull a person back to sleep. But like I said, nothing lasts forever. Now where did I put my coffee?

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