My daughter is 17 months old and wakes roughly 10 times a night and has done so since birth but... I'm feeling great!!

It was around about the time when I stumbled upon this fabulous group when I was utterly exhausted and wondering how I would make it through the next day, the next hour, that I decided something had to change. However knowing the reality of normal infant/toddler sleep and being true to my attachment gentle parenting style, I decided that sleep was not going to be that something. Instead, I set myself the challenge to "build my mummy reservoir" in other ways. This is what I did:

  • I found my village. I sort of created it actually. It took effort. I went on a mission to seek out friendships and make connections with people who have similar values to me. And I found these people! At library storytimes, at cafes, at playgroup, at the playground. They have become some of my dearest friends and greatest supports.
  • I dampened the sleep training chatter in the universe. Firstly by surrounding myself by likeminded parents as above. I then unsubscribed from all those "helpful" weekly baby development newsletters and the like. I made some tough decisions about which Facebook groups were contributing to filling my cup and which were doing the opposite and needed to go. I became proud to say that I bedshare and that my daughter gets boobies all night long. In cases of unwanted advice or situations where sleep training is being discussed, I have a game plan. Sometimes it is to smile and nod and then have a laugh about it with my husband at home. Other times I might be lucky to plant a little seed about gentle parenting.
  • I stopped looking at the clock. And I stopped counting the wake-ups. This was INCREDIBLY helpful. Had she slept for 10mins or 2 hours? Who knows? If I'd known it was 10mins then I'd most likely feel annoyed, disappointed, anxious, angry, or all of these things simultaneously. Ignorance is bliss:-)
  • I swapped our bedroom light for a red dimmer globe and made a real effort to reduce my exposure to screens and white/blue light before bedtime. I also cut out caffeine from my diet. In doing so I noticed a huge difference in my ability to fall asleep quickly at bedtime and after each wake-up.
  • I embraced contact naps and took it as an opportunity to rest and soak up all those divine snuggles.

Learn more about sleep hygiene

  • I started a gratitude diary.
  • I learnt to let go of unhelpful thoughts. Those thoughts that circulate around and around and eat at your confidence or self-worth. Or those snippets of conversation that you just can't shake. Boy oh boy is being able to let go a fabulous thing! A friend of mine taught me an incredible tool for this. I imagine writing each thought on a leaf, and then I visualise placing the leaf in a running stream and watching it float away.

Feeling overwhelmed? Here are some tips to help you cope

  • I upped my exercise. Walking whilst babywearing my daughter. Fresh air does wonders and instantly boosts my energy levels.
  • I stopped mourning the loss of my "evenings" and having time with just my husband to relax. Instead, we have found a way to do things differently and still have a meaningful time together to connect. We go on walks whilst our daughter sleeps in the ergo carrier. And our latest craze is completing an interactive mystery book where you work together to solve puzzles and unlock clues. Perfect for quiet time whilst our daughter contact naps!
  • I found THIS incredible online support group and read all of your posts and comments. You have all given me strength and inspiration 

So you see, I'm a big believer in the big picture. Sometimes when you feel that sleep is what needs to change, perhaps the next step is somewhat counter-intuitive and may involve shifting the focus AWAY from sleep. It worked for me.

Image provided by Jacinta

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