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How to Get Your Children to Sleep through the Night

How to Get Your Children to Sleep Through the Night

So now that I have your attention, I have some disappointing news to share. I do not know how to get your children to sleep through the night. And after welcoming my second baby last year, I have finally figured out the truth.

“Sleeping through the night” is a myth. A fucking myth. It’s like the Santa Claus of parenthood. We want to believe that this is a real thing – that it does exist somewhere in a magical sleep filled land – but in our hearts, we know the truth. It’s all a big lie. Children do not sleep through the night.

And the older you get, the more children you have, the more you come to realize the truth. You will literally never sleep through the night again.

I find the phrase, "sleep like  baby" insanely ironic. Babies don't sleep for shit, people. Just saying.

I find the phrase, “sleep like baby” insanely ironic. Babies don’t sleep for shit, people. Just saying.

Our pediatricians tell us this sad lie is for two important reasons: marketing and money. That’s right. You clicked this post, didn’t you?? You read the title, “How to get your children to sleep through the night” and you rejoiced and you clicked it. It sucked you in the moment you saw it. You prayed that I was going to tell you exactly how to solve your sleepless problems. Because we are taught that children actually sleep through the night, we are desperate to read, buy, and believe anything that “the experts” have to say about how to make this unrealistic miracle happen.

Years ago, some douche bag doctor decided that he would lie to parents, tell them that if they bought his book and followed his instructions, their kids would sleep. And then he giggled as parent after parent sought after his advice, purchased his materials, and slaved over the 5 S’s of sleeping (shushing, side sleeping, swaddling, blah blah blah). Well screw you, Harvey. That shit doesn’t work.

I was just like you. I googled “healthy sleep habits.” Once, I even considered speaking with a sleep consultant. What the hell is a sleep consultant, you ask??? Someone who you pay to tell you lies about how to get your child to sleep through the night.

I prayed that my baby would sleep. And when he didn’t, I told myself that eventually, he would not be a baby anymore and he would learn to sleep. But every time your children tease you with one night of decent sleep – and by decent I mean a five hour stretch – some shit storm happens and it disappears as quickly as it ever arrived. Teething, illness, a chilly bedroom, too much light, not enough light, loud noises. Who knows? Anything and everything will keep your baby from sleeping.

Then your baby will get older, transition from a crib to a bed, and realize that they can actually get up and walk around at night. Good fucking luck.

At age three and four, they become scared of their own fucking shadows and are absolutely incapable of even falling asleep in their bedrooms. Monsters under the bed. Night time potty training. The list goes on.

And don’t you dare think that when they are teenagers, you will finally get to catch up on some zzz’s. It’s true – teenagers like to sleep all day long, but they also like to stay out all night – which will most definitely keep you up as you lay in your bed and worry that they are getting drunk and breaking laws and making children of their own.

So just accept it. It’s never going to happen. Your rested life as you know it is over. Give up and learn to drink coffee.

You’re welcome.

The Parenting Pendulum

A pendulum is a weight that is suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely back and forth. When resting, it sits quietly in its equilibrium position. Now let me just say that this info came straight from Wikipedia, solely because I failed physics in high school and barely passed it in college. It looks like a simple object to me, but is definitely characterized by some complicated physics shit that I will never seem to fully grasp (gravity, force, acceleration, blah blah blah….).

My life as a parent feels very similar to what I can observe and understand about the pendulum. Parenting may seem simple, but is often more complicated than can ever be described. As a mother of two who works full time, I am constantly swung in separate directions, feeling myself pulled by the forces of both career and raising kids.

When I had my first child, I struggled with finding the balance between being my best as a mother and an employee – as I’m sure almost every parent does. I felt the mom guilt sweeping over my skin well before my sparse eight weeks of maternity leave came to an end. I was unhappy in my position at work in general, and in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth losing the time with my son. I quit, stayed home a few days a week, and spent a few days watching another mother’s children to make some extra cash so that I could afford to be away from “work.”

Luckily, I fell into my dream job two years ago. With this brought the financial ability to welcome another child – which ironically has also created my current dilemma. Between caring for two children and upholding my responsibilities as a full time employee, I am constantly swinging in opposite directions. As I care for my kids, a small part of my brain is still carrying the energy from work – the stress, the demands. When I’m at work, a large part of my heart is hurting to be with my children who need me, especially when they are sick, tired, or sad to see me go.

It’s a constant struggle – passing my attention back and forth between the two things that I care so much about. I’ve worked my ass off to earn a Master’s degree in Education and I’ve finally landed the position I’ve dreamed about – the position that has allowed me to afford to have a second child in the first place. But sadly, the ludicrous cost of childcare in this country combined with the lack of reliable options makes things even more challenging. I refuse to give up my career, because it keeps me sane many days, but I still find it hard to give 100% of my time, attention, and energy to my kids and my career at any given time.

As mentioned before, when the pendulum is not moving, it sits in its resting, equilibrium position. One thing that I know for sure is that in motherhood, there is often no resting position. Whether we work full time, work from home, work as a full time mother, or some crazy combination of these things, maybe the answer to this never ending struggle is to find our equilibrium. As my parenting pendulum swings forcefully from side to side between home and work, I am going to make it my goal to slow down every once in a while and find my resting place.