Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, on the birth of their new son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Rightly overjoyed and happy Meghan and Harry are at the very beginning of their parenting story. Wonderful news, but… and it is a big but… SLEEP!
Harry’s older brother, the Duke of Cambridge, took the opportunity to welcome his little brother to the ‘sleep deprivation society’. It looks to me like William is speaking from personal experience, which got me thinking. If even the royals can’t sleep what hope is there for the rest of us?
The ‘sleep deprivation society’ isn’t a club I knew I was joining when I first became a Mum. I have to be honest though, people did try to tell me. 18 months of sleeplessness taught me how right they were. Once you have children (it seems to me) sleep is something you used to do. Sleep now, is a strategy, a nightly challenge. The bedtime routine or battleground depending on perspective. Everyone will give you advice but the facts according to researchers from the University of Warwick are clear. Parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation.
I asked some Dad friends about their strategies to help with sleep. They had some suggestions.
- Communicate with your partner and share the load
- Set up your spare room so at least one of you can sleep
- Employ a sleep trainer (an expensive option but effective)
- Stick to your routine, don’t run in to soothe to quickly.
All good solid advice and in line with the best advice for safe sleep from the Lullaby Trust.
But once we got talking, my asking for their advice soon turned into the Dads asking each other for help. As a Mum to a 4 year old, and a 9 month year old. I was thinking sleep problems were just about babies. You almost expect not to sleep with a newborn in the house but the problem apparently can last for years.
A Brighton based Dad, a talented photographer and father to three told me that when his babies were small his family was well supported by their loving Mother-in-law. She helped so he could continue his full-time job. He has to leave his house at 5am every morning. But he hasn’t escaped sleep deprivation and described his current problem. His son is 6 and “wakes up early on Saturdays when the rest of the family is still enjoying our sleep. He bangs the doors, increases the volume of the TV or his tablet or loudly plays with his toys so the rest of us could wake up. Our Friday night pleas always fall on his deaf ear.”
Advice From Head of Parenting at Fegans
Fegans’ parenting expert, Nicola, suggests investing in a day time/night time clock so it is easy for his son to know when he is allowed to get up and play. Introducing a reward system for this would be really effective too, so if he manages to stay in bed until 7am he gets a trip to the park, his favourite breakfast or whatever will motivate him to try hard to win the prize!
It is important to keep consistent with this and really praise every small step he makes otherwise he will give up and you’ll be back to joining the ‘sleep deprivation society’!
Do you think her advice would work for your family? What else could this Dad try? Come over and share your strategies for coping with or curing sleeplessness on our forum.