I can count on one hand the number of times my baby’s slept through the night since she arrived last October. She’s good at many things, but sleep is not one of them. Although she’s now nine and a half months, we’ve yet to experience more than a couple of days in a row of good sleep. She likes to lull us into a false sense of sleep security with one or two good nights followed by a run of three or four bad ones. Keeping us on our toes is her main hobby.
Perhaps I’ve blotted it out but I really can’t remember ever feeling this tired when her big sister was a baby. Of course we had the odd teething nights and weird phases of multiple wake-ups, but from memory, I think Frog was sleeping through pretty reliably by the time she reached nine and a half months old. With this in mind, I’ve had to search for some new coping strategies when it comes to doing my day job as a mum and a work-from-home journalist and writer on very little sleep. So when NaturalMat asked me to share my tips for living as a nocturnal parent, I readily agreed. Nocturnal is something I know a lot about these days.
Tip 1: Sleep when the baby sleeps
This is the first thing that gets bandied around by health visitors and experienced has-beens eager to pass on their survival guide to life with a baby. I know it’s an oldie but, in my opinion, it’s very good advice. There have been many mornings following a horrendous night with the baby that I’ve known there’s nothing for it but to go to bed as soon as she’s gone down for her first nap of the day. Of course this is easier said than done if you have a baby that doesn’t do naps. In that case, you need to follow tip number two.
Tip 2: Recruit some help
Maybe it’s your own mum, or a neighbour, or another mum mate with a baby. Whoever it is, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel like you’re struggling. Admitting you need some support is not a sign of weakness. Over the past nine months I’ve been lucky enough to have help from my mum who’s come round to hold the baby for a few hours so I can get some work done, or go to bed if we’ve had an awful night. I’ve also had lovely friends offer to look after the baby for a couple of hours so I can catch up on some sleep on those days where my head feels full of treacle and I feel physically sick through exhaustion.
Tip 3: Ignore the chores
If you’re a control freak like me then this might be a tough one, but sometimes for your own sanity you need to walk away from the pile of dirty dishes, laundry and mess and just go to bed. There have been days when my house is a tip but I’ve had to leave it be until later in the day so I can get some rest. If the baby napped then I’d go to bed, or if she wanted cuddles then I’d lounge on the sofa watching NetFlix. If I felt guilt about letting stuff slide I looked at it as an investment for my children: I’m a better mum to them if I’m rested and not a shouty, snappy, sleep-deprived wreck.
Tip 4: Eat
As tempting as it is to jump straight on the post-baby diet wagon, I really think us new mums need to give ourselves a break. You’ve been up all night with a screaming baby for goodness sake – EAT THE CAKE. If there’s one time in your life when you’ve deserved the right to consume carbs and sugar willy nilly then it’s after you’ve had a baby. Personally, I think this rule applies to the first year at least.
Tip 5: Be flexible with your sleeping arrangements
Over the past nine months we’ve had various different sleeping arrangements depending on which particular phase of sleep mayhem the baby was putting us through. She’s slept in a moses basket in our room, in a co-sleeper crib next to our bed, in our new super kingsize bed with us and, now, in a cot in her own room. Some nights the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine has ended up downstairs on the sofa in a bid to get at least some sleep before a full day at work. Basically, we’ve opted for the “whatever works right now” approach. Having this type of attitude takes the pressure off trying to find a longterm solution immediately, which might not account for the many changes your baby goes through in the first year of their life.
When it comes to choosing a mattress for your cot I’m waving the flag today for NaturalMat mattresses, because they’re handmade in my home of Devon (Yay for Devon!) using natural materials – including organic, soft lambswool. There are three different material options to choose from: coco, latex or mohair. And you can pick if you want a quilted or unquilted version. The coco mattress, for example, is great for cribs, moses baskets, prams and small cots, while the mohair mattress is ideal for cotbeds, junior beds and single beds. There’s also a spring mat option which can be used for newborns right through to older babies and a travel mat which can be rolled up and taken away with you to use in a travel cot. Basically, whatever your baby mattress need you will find a solution at NaturalMat.
I’ve vlogged some more tips for coping with sleep deprivation if this is a subject that currently affects you. Apologies for the cheeky baby who regularly hogs the camera in this one…
Have you got any great coping tips? Share them here – we need all the help we can get!
Disclosure: Thanks to NaturalMat for working with me on this post. For more information about how I work with brands take a look at my Work With Me page.