Sleep when Baby Sleeps . . . but how?

“Sleep when your baby sleeps”, is probably the piece of advice that I received the most throughout my pregnancy from other mothers. It is also the one piece of advice that I have yet to follow. It’s not that it isn’t good advice, because trust me, it makes sense. Your baby will most likely be on such an erratic sleep schedule that you will have to catch your shut-eye when they are not feeding or pooping. And if your baby is like mine was for the first couple months, he or she will sleep all day and party all night. The problem with sleeping while your baby is sleeping is that there is laundry piling up, food that needs to be cooked, floors that need to be washed, phone calls that need to be made, and blog posts that need to be written. Oh, and there is a hot shower calling your name. So how can I sleep when baby sleeps?

The simple answer is that you just have to. There was a point in the first few weeks that I actually felt delusional. I was so full of love for this tiny creature, that I just stared at her when she finally did fall asleep, rather than closing my eyes as well. And because I’m borderline OCD, I could not stand the thought of closing my eyes when I knew my kitchen floor had spots on it that needed to be cleaned, not to mention my coffee table was caked with dust. I simply couldn’t have my new baby daughter breathing in dust, so that led to me dusting all the furniture and vacuuming the carpets. Then I would clean the bathrooms, have a shower, and lay down to rest. Cue the cries. I would close my eyes for no more than ten minutes before baby girl would startle awake and need me. Well hey. I tried!

The most important thing to remember is that your baby needs you to be strong, calm, and collected. It is hard to be any of those when you are functioning on two hours of sleep per night (that was my first week month postpartum). It’s hard to even know what your name is at that point. If you are irrational, emotional (which is a topic for a different post), and hypersensitive, you are not your best self. It is hard to keep baby calm when you are not calm. That being said, not every mother becomes her “best self” by sleeping. Some moms, like me, simply need downtime where they read a book, have a warm bath, or watch a tv show (such as This is Us, where you cry until you pass out). Downtime is anything that allows you to work on you. As a mother, you dedicate 99% of yourself to the baby. Give yourself that 1% to focus on staying sane.

Another tidbit to remember is to not beat yourself up if you have trouble sleeping. Chances are, you have spent your entire life working on a routine where you wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. Babies don’t emerge from the womb with that mentality. My baby was awake all night in my womb turning and kicking, so why would I expect anything different from her in her first few weeks of life? You basically have to throw away your learned routine and follow your baby’s schedule. I digress, it is not easy.

The last thing to remember is that regardless of what people tell you (including what I am saying), you probably won’t follow their advice. For instance, my baby is napping right now and I am hypocritically working on a post. I am exhausted today and I should be sleeping, but I would rather sip a hot coffee and write, than sleep. I do not feel bad about being a hypocrite though. My nana is the first person who told me to nap when baby naps, but then she quickly followed that by saying she cleaned the house when her babies slept (like nana, like granddaughter). This period of time with my little one is going to be finished before I know it. So today, I write. Tomorrow I sleep will probably do the same thing. Do what works for you mama :).


#moms #sleep #encouragement #momadvice #babysleep

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