When you are parenting a toddler, you need oodles of patience and energy. This is sometimes hard to conjure up when you have been woken numerous times in the night to feed. My toddler is now 20 months and still wakes to feed between 4 and 8 (or sometimes more!!) times during the night. If he is teething or unwell he may stay awake for extended periods after these feeds, which can be particularly exhausting for me. The conventional view would be to night wean him from the breast, but this doesn’t feel natural or right to me. I know how much comfort he gets from feeding and knowing my child as I do, I would be willing to bet that he would still wake whether I feed him or not. That would leave me trying to figure out another way to comfort him back to sleep, and nothing is going to be as easy as laying down, feeding and dozing. It’s the ultimate lazy mum’s tool – nature is clever that way!
So what does that leave me with? In our house, Mummy is on permanent night duty, since Daddy try as he might, just wont lactate! So I need to find ways to get my rest in where I can. The two big things I do to save my sanity and get my rest are –
- If he takes a nap, I SIT DOWN. No matter how long he naps, I don’t do any housework, I don’t do something I “should” be doing, I rarely make plans for the times I think he may nap. This is my time to relax and refill my tank. I sit down with lunch if I haven’t yet eaten, a hot cup of tea which I enjoy thoroughly, and I do what ever I feel like doing. Writing, reading, even napping – it is guilt free time and it doesn’t matter what state the house is in, I’m just not moving until my baby wakes up!
- The other thing I do is, on the days where I feel totally exhausted, I go up to bed with my son. We co sleep which aids night feeding as I don’t have to get up, and it also means that he rarely cries at night as he only has to nudge me or ask for milk to get my attention. We don’t have bedtimes in our home, so he goes up when he is tired. He seems to have settled in to the family rhythms so usually gets sleepy around 9 or 10pm. As we have the luxury of getting up when we feel like it, this later schedule works well for us. If I am feeling full of energy I can either stay up later than him to spend time with my husband, or get up a bit earlier than him, to get on with things. But if I am in need of the rest, going to bed with him ensures that I don’t miss out on the long (well longer) stretch of sleep at the beginning of his cycle and I can take advantage of a lie in too. After a night like this I feel ready for anything!