Simply Parenting – Sleep Patterns

‘Is he sleeping through the night yet?’; ‘I need coffee, I was up half the night’; ’sleep deprivation is the worst!‘

When it comes to parenting, one of the biggest features of rearing our children is sleep. How much should they get? How do we settle them? Should they share the bed with us? Should they share a room? When should we transfer them to their own cot? How often should they nap? Why won’t they sleep??

Nope - not sleepy!

Nope – not sleepy!

Then we compare ourselves to other parents. ’I would never let my child in the bed with me, she is mad.’’ I would never let my child cry for a minute, let alone cry themselves to sleep. Self-soothing is a form of torture‘! The blame game continues on and on.

So let’s get back to basics. No matter what your own personal outlook is, the fact is that children really need sleep. They need a lot of sleep. Sleep is crucial to their growth, brain development, physical development and general well-being. Often when our children are not sleeping well, it is because they are over-tired or are caught up in the running around that is part of everyday life, and so we need to stop making excuses and start parenting up!

'Then she said, see you in the morning' 'Too funny!'

‘Then she said, see you in the morning’ ‘Too funny!’

Every child is different!

However, when a baby starts on solid food (usually at around six months), they no longer need feeding during the night. I know that we like to think that the baby should decide when they want to stop night feeds and this is true up to a point.  Still, once they are eating solids and getting their nutrition during the day, night time is when they need the chance for precious sleep not milk. It falls to us to help our babies learn how to sleep through the night. Bringing them in for a quick comfort feed just because you missed them during the day, or because it is too tiring trying to settle them in their cot when you are getting up to a full day’s work the next day, suits us parents but is not the best practise for the sleep deprived baby.

 

They can catch up on sleep during the day!

I have often said as I watched each of my babies nap peacefully during the day, after I have been up pacing the floors all night ‘ isn’t it grand for you, you can sleep whenever you want’. Again, napping is crucial to our babies’ development but it does not replace the valuable sleep that they need during the night. Letting your baby ‘catch up’ by napping for longer during the day will not help them sleep at night. Another thing we do is reduce their nap times  to ‘tire them out’ in the vain hope that they will fall into a deep restful  12 hour sleep  – then we pull our hair out wondering why they will not sleep. An over-tired baby finds it very hard to get to sleep.

My child is a bad sleeper – I’ve left it too late!

Not true at all and there is a wealth of advice out there to help you encourage your child to develop healthy sleep patterns. There are volumes of books on getting children to sleep and a myriad of methods out there. I recommend the recently published Irish sleep expert Niamh O’Reilly – ‘No Fuss Baby &Toddler Sleep’,(available on Amazon) as she talks a lot of sense! Choose a method that fits in with your lifestyle and parenting beliefs, and then be consistent.

The key things to remember are:-

  • Do not make excuses
  • Change sleep patterns if they need changing
  • It is never too late to start
Encourage them to do this so...

Encourage them to do this so…

Knowing that a large chunk of our children’s happiness and well-being is based on them having a good night’s sleep is reason enough to put in a little hard work to encourage them to develop healthy sleep patterns.

..they will have  interest in doing things like this, and...

..they will have interest in doing things like this, and…

..this.

..this.

I am taking a few weeks holidays but will be continuing this series when I get back with the topic of ‘Screen Time’.

All comments and feedback very welcome.

Thanks for reading

Aisling

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Miscarriage – A Misnomer…..

… you always ‘carry’ your child.

I wrote this article for MummyPages and it seemed to resonate with a lot of Mums, so thought I would share it here too!

http://www.mummypages.ie/blogs/the-struggle-of-moving-on

Thanks for reading,

Aisling

Baby Number Two, Will I Love You?

Growing our families can sometimes be the cause of quite a bit of stress and anxiety because we genuinely don’t know if we can love anyone as much as we love our first born. The good news is that yes we can! However, don’t worry if you don’t experience that overwhelming instant gush of love that you had when you met your first-born. It is completely natural and normal to feel, well, a little put out to be honest. I found the pull away from my first born incredibly difficult and it took a lot of getting used to!!

Best friends and playmates!

Best friends and playmates!

I discovered I was pregnant with my son on honeymoon. I was indeed a little put out, having spent months dreaming of long lazy days on the beach sipping cocktails of EVERY possible concoction. I didn’t exactly embrace the ‘virgin’ variety quite as much, never mind the nausea and tiredness that go along with those early days (of pregnancy not marriage). I also felt put out because my husband had been made redundant only a fortnight before the wedding and so the extra cost of a family of four was worrying. I was mostly put out because, already feeling horribly guilty about abandoning our daughter for our honeymoon (see? cocktails would have been handy!) now here we were replacing her with a new baby! Oh yeah, thoughts spiralling out of control and then some, but I was allowed – I was pregnant.

Well we ended up having a lovely honeymoon – my husband who doesn’t drink very obligingly drank cocktails in my stead – we figured out our finances and knew we could manage on my salary a while before we hit a balance of €0.00 and so I settled down and embraced my pregancy, high blood pressure and all. The one thing I could not shake was the feeling that I was letting my eldest down. I sought reassurance from all my friends with more than one child, and they all said you will be fine. Then after a pretty tough, long labour my beautiful son was born. I was so happy to have him safely delivered into my arms… and then I instantly started to compare him to his sister. Surely she latched on straight away (she didn’t), she definitely didn’t cry this much at night (she surely did), wasn’t she more snuggly then this? ( NO my daughter didn’t ever enjoy a cuddle unless she had such a high temperature that she couldn’t physically resist one!). I very much went through the motions in hospital, and due to having had GH, I was kept in for three long days. My husband would come and visit me and regale me with tales of funny things Caoimhe was doing at home, I smiled and nodded thinking ‘great and I am stuck in here with this fella who won‘t do anything I want, whilst you get to have fun with her’.

First meeting could have gone better!

First meeting could have gone better!

Finally the day to go home arrived. I was bringing Conan for his BCG (which they still did while you were in hospital in those days), when my husband and a young lady walked up the corridor. I did a double-take, no TRIPLE-take before I realised that the young lady in question was my two year-old baby that I had left at home four days ago. She was completely over-awed by the hospital and so was in terrible form – needless to say, her first encounter with her baby brother was awkward at best! Nevermind, at last we were going home, a healthy family of four..yay. However, the first two weeks at home were anything BUT yay. Why? Because, while I was struggling to breast-feed (which is in itself a full-time job), I was also trying to show Caoimhe that nothing had changed, when of course it had. My husband tried to give me as much rest as possible so he took her to the shops, out for walks or up to her grannies to give me a break. A much needed rest that I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be the one stuck to the bed and the baby, I didn’t want to be the one that needed minding. I should be minding her! I couldn’t seem to shake the thought that by introducing a new baby we had somehow ‘broken’ our family.

We didn’t break our family, of course we didn’t – we enhanced it enormously. When I see how close Caoimhe and Conan are, and how much fun they have together, I can’t believe I ever doubted we would be a happy family. When I look at Conan in all his earnest thoughtfulness and fantastic sense of fun, I am overcome with love and pride. So how did I get from there to here?

  • Talk – I told my husband exactly how I was feeling, over and over again and he (not being the hormonal mess I was) reassured me over and over again.
  • Join forces – I invited Caoimhe to help me as much as possible with Conan. I encouraged her to sit with me while I fed him, I let her mammy him while I mammied them both.
  • Be honest – I did miss the life I had before Conan. I accepted that was okay and once I did that I began to enjoy life with Conan, to such an extent that I can’t really remember life before him without the aid of photographs.
  • Know your limits – I gave myself a very stern talking to. I had to rest, I had to have a break from them both when I could, or I would have done myself some serious damage, both mentally and physically.
  • Give it time – remember that having a baby is incredibly demanding. Of course you can’t do everything you did before the baby! However, with time to rest and acclimatise, I promise you will I promise, get back to feeling normal.
  • Accept help and company – the value of these should not be underestimated.
DSCN1030

Minding her baby bro!

 

I definitely found the transition from one to two children tough. I didn’t suffer from post-natal depression which I was checked for a couple of times at my own behest. So please believe me when I tell you that you will be fine – you can and do love all your children, not all in the same way, as they are (thankfully) not carbon copies of one another. So how does having number three compare? Not a bother – by then you realise that growing your family is in fact enhancing your family!

I love hearing your thoughts so please feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading

Aisling

World Breast-Feeding Week

I am away on holidays at the moment but wanted to take part in a linky hosted by The Irish Parenting Bloggers of which I am a proud member!

The title of which is: A picture is worth a thousand words. I loved breast-feeding my guys (once I got the hang of it), and the one piece of advice I offer people starting out is:  let breast-feeding become a part of your lifestyle as opposed to fitting your life around breast-feeding.

 

WP_000187-1

So here is a picture of me taking that advice! I celebrated my 40th birthday whilst still nursing my youngest, but we fitted breast-feeding into the  celebrations!

 

For more stories about WBW check out the links below!

 

Tackling Tantrums

 

Parents or not, we are all aware and have witnessed at least one tantrum in our lives. As parents, we research the cause of tantrums and learn how to handle them so that we won’t be that embarrassed mum in the shop. Right?!?

Have you noticed that your children are more prone to tantrums since school/creche closed for Summer, or when you head off on your long-awaited two week relaxing summer holiday? Summer holidays change the routine, along with us being a little more relaxed, and so can be the perfect recipe for tantruming hell! My three children have been melting down on a regular basis (and it is not just from the heat), sometimes one at a time, but we have had a few glorious ‘all together now’s too. So I have started trying to anticipate and avoid the tantrums rather than the end result of us all marching into separate rooms and slamming the doors.

Here’s my ‘how to’:-

  • Television: I am all for a bit of television, but before the television goes on I tell them (a) that they must agree between themselves what they are watching or it goes off, (b) the number of cartoons they can watch, usually either a short movie or three cartoons, (c) that the television is going off after the last cartoon (with a reminder before it starts). While making these points, I make sure that the children look at me and verbally agree to each, as opposed to nodding whilst staring at the tv or remote!
  • Give them a plan: If we are staying home for the day, then I try and break it up between indoors and outdoors, so they might play on their bikes first time outside and then have a teddy-bears picnic next time – then they might do some drawing, reading or play lego indoors. I don’t generally have time to do these things with them, but I find suggesting activities to them helps to limit the bickering and ‘I’m bored’s that can result in leaving them to it!
  • Anticipate snacks: The lack of routine in the summer means meals can be delayed or even forgotten. So after breakfast I have taken to filling a plastic jug with water and putting it and some beakers beside the fruit bowl giving them easy and self-led access to drinks and fruit all day. I am lucky enough to have a child old enough to pour drinks for the others but even if your children are too young, just having the stuff ready gives you a chance to beat them to the hunger/thirst, and a chance to remember to feed them!
  • Wait and see: Don’t agree to anything until you have thought it through. So when asked to go the beach/ playground/a walk, tell them it depends on the weather, or their behaviour, or enough time. Don’t agree and then change plans due to the above conditions – children are very definite people – if you tell them you are going to do something, then I would advise that you do it.
  • The element of surprise: If you can sense tensions rising, have a trick up your sleeve; for example, ‘oh I forgot, it’s time for ice-creams / a trip to the library / this new book / or even baking’. Never underestimate the power of distraction but make sure it is something that suits you too!
  • Be prepared: When you make a plan for the day, tell the children about it and get them to agree – then warn them that any bad behaviour will halt those activities. During the day, if you sense things are going to kick off, warn them again and carry through with the threat if needs be.

Tantrums are an unfortunate and unavoidable part of childhood but hopefully these tips will help keep them to a minimum, and make for a relaxing summer all round.

I love feedback so please leave any thoughts or comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Aisling

 

The ‘First’ I Miss!

 

20130228_105539

Laughter is the best medicine!

I took down the stair-gate last week… for the very last time…ever. Woo-hoo!! We are a growing family of five – growing UP, that is, as opposed to growing in numbers. My baby is two – she was two a couple of months ago, but in my head she will have just turned two until her third birthday. In fact, it kills me that I can’t refer to her age in months anymore (believe me I have tried saying she’s 25 months old, but even to my ears I sound ridiculous). It has taken me at least two years to accept that our family is complete (my husband knew two years and nine months ago!!) but for me it took a while. So I am currently mother to a lovesick seven-year-old, a five-year-old who has just recovered from a fractured arm and wants to do everything at full speed, and a two year old who corrects me every time I say ‘baby girl’ by telling me she is in fact ‘not a baby’. Hence I have taken down the stair gate. Not only can she navigate the stairs with great ease, she is growing up FAST. So the timing of fellow blogger‚ The Busy Mamas Linky‘ tales of parenting moments gone by’ could not be more appropriate. It has given me an opportunity to indulge in a little self-soothing nostalgia about the good old days, when I could legitimately call my babies ‘babies’!

 

Becoming a parent brings with it a barrage of ‘firsts‘ – some are awful firsts (worry, limited sleep, teething, worry, high temperatures, nappy rash, and did I mention worry?…), some are simply wonderful firsts (grasping fingers, the smell and feel of incredibly soft skin, hand-curling-around-the-neck cuddles, first words, first steps..) but the ‘first’ that I know I would never tire of is the sound of their very first self-aware,“that was funny“, giggling, bubbling, chuckling, laugh. There is plenty of laughter in our house – always has been, and I hope always will be. My first born makes me laugh with her wit, my son does slapstick like no other and as for the ‘baby’, well, toddlers are just funny! However, whenever I need cheering up, all I need do is think of the first time I heard them giggle with joy, and instantly I am smiling. It catches me unawares every time, but that first laugh brings more than just a feeling of joy. It not only lets you know that your baby is happy, but it also brings with it the awareness that your child is developing their own little personality and thoughts on life.

 

A baby’s laugh is so genuine, so unaffected, so contagious and so heartwarming, it is addictive. I have spent countless minutes nay hours trying to recreate whatever scenario gave them their first laugh, be it a funny voice I used once, or a silly-dance-and-fall (he laughed at the fall not the dance). Sometimes they will give you a charity laugh, sometimes your efforts will be received with mute stony silence – like the aforementioned time I tried to recreate the dance/fall – but sometimes, and this is worth any amount of effort or pain, the laughter will escalate and you will both end up breathless, in tears laughing uproariously!

 

So there it is – the first laugh – that is probably my very favourite ‘first‘ of parenthood, and although I will not experience that again, I can’t wait to spend a good chunk of the rest of my days laughing with my growing family of five. Why not check out some other firsts that will be missed by clicking on this link!

Once upon a time

Thanks for reading and please add any thoughts or comments below.

 

Aisling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor, Doctor.

20130418_134407Children not unlike Wolverine (excited about the new X-Men film yet?) have absolutely wonderful immune systems. They can beat off just about any minor common childhood illness without so much as a by your leave! ‘What?‘ I hear you say! ‘I am at the doctors every other week with my child. They constantly have sniffles, a bad cough or high temperature.’ Yep, getting the sniffles is a part of childhood. In fact, so are coughs, colds, tummy-ache, rashes, and let us not forget the roaring temperatures. That’s the bad news. The good news is you don’t always have to go to the doctor!

Most common childhood ailments can be treated with paracetemol, ibuprofen, 7-Up and some rest. I have yet to come across a common childhood illness that doesn’t improve within a day or two spent on the couch watching television! Rashes e.g. flare up all the time on childrens’ skin, but it is only if they persist, or appear in tandem with more serious symptoms that you need to address it. When you do need to address it, your pharmacist should be your first port of call. Even chickenpox doesn’t necessarily need a doctor’s diagnosis – just itch/pain management and time a.k.a. an anti-histamine and some paracetemol. As for meningitis, you will know – the level of listlessness and extreme reaction to light will set alarm bells ringing even before you do the glass test.

Childhood illnesses was one of the first topics I studied in childcare. Something I learned back then was that children under two years of age should not need antibiotics. Full stop. Whilst working as a nanny, I never had to give antibiotics but when I started working in creches it felt like every second child in my care was on a prescription. And when I asked why they were on antibiotics, I honestly couldn’t count the number of times parents answered ‘oh, it’s for a cough they can’t shake’ or ‘they have a really bad cold’, or worse still ‘they have a bad cold that I don’t want to develop into an infection!’

I understand that parents who work (outside the home) simply can’t take time off whenever their child is sick, and as I said, sniffles and so on are commonplace in children. However, nearly all creches and childminders will happily accept a child with the sniffles as they know just how prevelant these are. The notion of dosing them with antibiotics so they get better sooner, or don’t end up with an infection, just boggles the mind.

Antibiotics when used incorrectly can hamper your child’s natural immune system and impair their ability to fight off even the mildest of head colds. In fact, the headlines are full of stories about the diminishing return of antibiotics on a national scale. A child who is prescribed antibiotics repeatedly can develop a gradual resistance and ends up going on stronger and stronger antibiotics until they lose all effectiveness. And after all this, they will still suffer from coughs, colds etc. Yes, I know that only doctors can prescribe antibiotics, but parents put extreme pressure on doctors to do so. Wrong but true.

The childhood illnesses we fear the most – measles, mumps, rubella etc – are all covered by the free immunisation schedule. I am delighted that we are soon to be offered free healthcare for under fives – any initiative that takes pressure off the early years of parenting gets a big thumbs up from me. However, I worry that this may encourage even more rushing to the doctor for every small gripe and groan which, whilst assuaging the fears of the parent, can prove unhealthy for their child.

There are, of course, serious symptoms which should best be brought to your doctor’s attention, and anything ending in ‘itis’ generally needs professional medical care. ‘If in doubt, check it out’ is a reasonable motto with this one caveat – if it is not something you would go to the doctor for yourself, try treating it at home for at least 48 hours first; not only will you save some money, you will (much more importantly) help your childs immune system to grow and develop!

Thanks for reading

Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

 

 

 

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