Sleep thieves & exit strategies
Small humans are strange. When they’re exhausted, like us bigger versions they need to sleep. But if you miss that teeny tiny window (of about 45 seconds) where they’re good and sleepy, they kick off and fight the zeds because they’re overtired. Possibly the single most annoying part of parenting in my opinion. ‘Overtired’?! What the hell even is that?! Just shut your eyes and GO. TO. SLEEP. Jennifer Garner puts it beautifully in this not very sensitive bedtime story (**contains gratuitous but expertly placed swearing – enjoy).
Finding their ‘off’ button, or helping our little angels find it themselves, has been one of the trickiest parts of parenting for me. So, come on then, how do you get yours to sleep?
- Dump and run – literally place them gently in bed, kiss on the head, run away without looking back. Lucky you, if you can get away with this.
- Leave your aura – lay them down, stay a few seconds, then back away stealthily ready to rush back at the first sign of a fidget. “What? I never left! My aura was still there!” (an Eddie Izzard supermarket queue reference for any fans). Oh how well you get to know every single creak in the floor boards that could scupper your chances of a smooth exit.
- Do the Commando Crawl – this is an extreme version of leaving your aura, which involves exiting the nursery below baby’s eyeline on your stomach, military commando through the mud stylee. The plan being to avoid the little bugger deploying their X-ray vision and spotting you leaving the room despite BEING COMPLETELY ASLEEP. Ex-military Husband aced this.
- Stay and shush – nice long ‘shhhhhhhhs’ that seem to work, but each time you stop the eyes flutter open… so you keep going until you’re scared you can’t say a straight ‘s’ any more like you’ve developed some strange Sean Connery-esque speech impediment.
- The botty tap – this is a favourite of ours at the mo. Normally means we don’t have to pick her up, as she feels strangely comforted by a regular bottom pat as she drifts off. Imagine if anyone tried to do that to you as you fell asleep. Proper weird.
- Dance til your arm falls off – they feel so light at first don’t they? Ahhh, how nice – baby cuddles and waltzes on the spot in that teeny tiny box room nursery (unless they’re the first child of course)… until it’s 45 minutes later, you’re still swaying and singing, now with leaden arms, pins and needles somewhere uncomfortable and massive hunger pangs from the cooking smells coming from downstairs.
- Sit and cuddle – the comfy armchair snooze. Normally for both of you.
- Strange bespoke rocking technique – only your baby knows if you’re doing it right. Ours was an odd squatty type bounce with a big jolt at the top of each rep… funny creature, was our first.
- In and out – this can be dangerous. You go in to offer comfort from the crying – some babies feel more reassured and settle back down, others (like ours) ramp up the guilt and scream louder expecting to be picked up and cuddled. If you do, you’re buggered and end up back at option 4, 6 or 9…
- Whatever it takes – your technique changes on a nightly basis for the easiest ride. Perhaps it’s lying down with baby and closing eyes to get them to sleep, feeding to sleep, singing one song over and over like a stuck record, taking them out in the car…
What random techniques work(ed) for you?