There’s been a bit of debate at the moment about the ebook “Gift Of Sleep” and to be perfectly honest, it makes me sad.
First up, I have NOT read the book so I do not know what strategies they use so I am not even going to discuss it. What I am going to discuss is how sad it makes me that there is SO much emphasis on making babies sleep.
How about instead of giving mums the “Gift of Sleep”, we give the gift of knowledge. That babies waking frequently is NORMAL. They aren’t trying to manipulate you, they’re babies for heavens sake. They need something from you. Whether that be food, a nappy change, comfort or just the knowledge that mum hasn’t completely disappeared, they need something.
Try and act with compassion, remember, they’ve spent 9 months inside you hearing your heartbeat. Now suddenly they’re in a cot in a dark room and they can’t hear you, can’t smell you, can’t feel you. Not to mention the simple overwhelm that it must be for babies to go from a nice dark watery place to all these new sensations. You have to eat, feel hunger, hot, cold, stuff touching you, all those people looking at you, learning how to use your limbs….so many new sensations and skills all at once. Pretty sure that would be enough to make me cry.
How about we give mums the gift of it being ok to let go. It’s ok if your house isn’t spotless, it’s ok to have toasted sandwiches or cereal for dinner. You don’t HAVE to be perfect and you don’t have to do it all. It’s ok to handball things to your partner adnd it is really, truly ok if they don’t do it the same way as you.
Give them the gift of support. Let them know it’s ok to ask for help. Instead of bunches of flowers and useless stuffed toys, take a new mother a homecooked meal. Soemething that can be eaten with 1 hand is best. Hold the baby while she showers and eats a hot meal. Do some chores for her, a load of dishes, a load of washing, do the vacuuming (and mum’s remember, it’s ok to let go and accept help). If she’s got children already take them to the park for half an hour or longer if you can, after tucking her into bed for a nap. And don’t forget, just because the baby is no longer a newborn, doesn’t mean she doesn’t need support.
Give her the gift of knowing it’s ok to take time for herself. The very best gift Thommo every gave me was a night in a hotel when the babies were 7 months old. That’s obviously not possible all the time, finding something for you is so important. Getting out of the hosue on my own for a walk does wonders for me, as does sewing, afternoons spent with friends. Find that thing that refreshes you and do it regularly. It’s ok not to be there 24/7, it’s ok to prioritise yourself.
Give mums the gift of your love, time and support. And stop asking them how their baby is sleeping, they’re sleeping like a baby, just the way they’re meant to.