Last night, around 1:30 in the morning, I woke up to a full-fledged summer storm. I lay in my bed listening to the thunder clap and watched as the lightening flashed across my bedroom.
My awe at Mother Nature was short-lived however as the next clap of thunder was quickly followed by the screaming of my two preschool-aged daughters, so frightened by the storm that they had wet the bed, and then by the wailing of my infant son.
It was just a typical Tuesday night in my household.
If I’m being honest for a second, I have to tell you that one of the hardest parts of parenthood for me is the lack of sleep. I am like a zombie, albeit a well-functioning zombie, in the middle of the night. If I’m being even more honest, more often than not, the girls cry for my husband when they wake up, because they know Mama is just going to march them straight back to their beds.
After three kids and almost five straight years of exclusive breastfeeding, I know that preserving what sleep I can is important to my sanity. That’s just the way it is. That is why I have dedicated much of my life to getting my babies to sleep—and I’ve picked up a few tips along the way.
#1. Go French.
When I was pregnant with my third child, I was determined to make like the French and employ their secret strategy for getting babies to sleep through the night. It basically boils down to always putting a baby to sleep semi-awake. The theory is that you teach the baby to put himself to sleep, thus making it easier for her to go back to sleep when he awakens at natural intervals during the night. I have never been able to make this one work as I pretty much always nurse my babies to sleep, but I hear good things about it. The one piece that I did pick up from this secret, however, is to give your baby a few minutes before instantly picking him up when he awakens during the night. I was surprised a few times, even when my son was very little, to find he put himself back to sleep without me. Success!
#2. Use a fan.
Every single one of my children sleeps with a fan. I am convinced that the white noise blocks out disturbances, sets a soothing environment, and that the mere act of turning on the fan “cues” my kids that it’s time for sleep. Granted, creating kids who are completely dependent on fans to sleep does make traveling tricky, but I’ll take my chances.
#3. Realize it is temporary.