Have had a lot of opportunity to reflect on parenting back when I had Fran compared to parenting Bene now lately. I’ve had children across three different decades and two different centuries – not only does that sound dramatic, but it really is. When I had Fran there were only really videos to watch (and pricey ones at that), no all day TV, barely any kids TV at all, no financially viable options for laptops, no smart phones, no social media, no internet. You couldn’t download an app or pop a toddler in front of repeated hours of Peppa if your sanity needed saving.
Fran didn’t sleep AT ALL. She was able to function on very little rest, liked evenings and, mostly due to hunger, was often awake constantly in the small hours. When all my other options were exhausted, such as holding her in the dark and trying to shush or rock her off to sleep, shoveling milk down her or singing, I would be reduced to strapping her into her car seat and lying next to her on the floor while she watched the 3 episodes of Teletubbies that that a video held. I would doze on the floor next to her, trying to catch up on sleep but too uncomfortable or anxious to rest. If I put the light on she was awake and rampaging for the day so reading wasn’t an option, Max never functioned at night but also had to work the next day and so it all fell to me. It was lonely, depressing and frustrating and is sadly what I most remember about parenting my eldest child. How I would have loved a Kindle or iphone back then.
One thing I forgot to properly account for when I decided to restart my family, was how long it takes to get a baby or toddler to sleep through the night. I’m totally anti sleep training from a very long way back (I tried it with Fran and am absolutely sure it destroyed her ability to sleep) and my babies settle by me, or in my arms and sleep with us for as long as it suits everyone.
But when Bene arrived and his next eldest present sibling was already 7, I have to admit it all came as a bit of a shock. I was ready for the early weeks and in fact his company was perfect since I found him sleeping (and back at the beginning he slept a lot!) very stressful. I often hovered over him at night to check he was okay. It was me who had the problems with sleep for quite a while, rather than him. And then, just as I began to relax, he took over, morphing from the never awake boy to the never asleep boy almost overnight.
From a few months old he needed my full attention to get him to sleep. He’s not naughty but he really does have a 90 mile an hour brain and settling down is not easy. I calculated recently I have spent the equivalent of six weeks of 24 hour days sitting in the dark in his room, with him trying his hardest to get to sleep while feeding, cuddling or snuggling. He’s cracked it in the last three months, which has given me back my life and productivity.
What saved me this time though is that I have been able to take a book or phone in to keep him company. Sometimes we used it to listen to nursery rhymes together, sometimes I browsed while he settled (it seems to make no real difference most days whether I had it there or the darkness was total). So I have 3 years worth of Pinterest fandom, phone written blog posts, Facebooking or reading that has been done quietly while we cuddled. For all it was time that sometimes felt a huge drain on life, it was time I am glad to have had with his baby self and having some contact with the outside world during it staved off depression and frustration. These days I could even Facebook the husband for a cup of tea if necessary!
Cussons have followed on from the #VoiceofMums campaign with #SilentSocial an all night, silent social media event on the night of 28th March to keep company with the mums and dads who find themselves blearily rocking the baby off to sleep in the early hours of the morning with no one for company. While the middle of the night is sometimes the perfect time to gaze in adoration at your bundle of fun, there are times when it is hard to feel the love and someone to chat and moan to is what you need. Find out more on their Twitter stream. The Cussons Mum & Me range is available from Boots, ASDA, Ocado, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Wilko and is a range of Mum & Babay bathtime products including ones to promote easy sleep.
This post is in association with Cussons.