Thursday, July 26, 2018

5 Tips for Little Sleepers & My Thriving Sleep Routine

***DISCLAIMER - NOTHING in this post is to suggest that I am a professional sleep consultant or have any scientific data to support my claims/theories. This is simply my experience having raised twins and a dude, what worked for me and my opinions. Please do not take any of what I say as judgement towards any personal choices surrounding parenting or sleeping in any way shape or form. Again, this is plain and simply my Thriving Life. Thank you , have a lovely day***

Sleep. That thing we are told to truly enjoy before having kids...because then it all goes away...forever.

Let me tell you, this scared the crap of my sleep loving, pre-mommy self. How would I survive? Waking up early? Not clocking 12+ hours of sleep regularly? Not sleeping in until the late morning on weekends? As panic set in,  my friends assured me I would adjust. Ha. We'd see about that.

Before our babies make their way into our arms, I think we all kind of create a "plan" for what sleep will look like for ourselves and baby.  We chat with our partners about what will work for our family (and our keeping our mommy sanity) and determine what sleep style we want to strive for.

Before the twins arrived, I felt I needed my own "sleep space". I loved sleep and the thought of sharing a bed with two babies did not seem appealing to me at all.

I set up a bassinet next to my side of the bed and when we got home from the hospital, I nursed, swaddled and set them down for a few hours of restful sleep before the next feeding.

Well.....then the reality set in. I was terrified. I just sat there, uncomfortably leaning over that stupid bassinet watching them, constantly touching their little chests to make sure they were breathing and got ZERO sleep and I mean ZERO. If I nodded off, the moment I heard them move, cough or breathe too heavily I sat up, heart racing, sick with terror as to what could be wrong. #newmom
Then came the super fun addition of my life commitment to tandem nursing. So when one woke, I woke the other. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. So, yes...I was basically nursing 24/7 as they adjusted to tandem feeding.

After the utter exhaustion of the birth, hospital stay and first night home. I was about a week in with no more than a few straight hours of sleep.

Cue massive, hysterical, hormonal, emotional break down.
Through my sobs I suddenly remembered what a veteran twin mom told me about how she made it work with hew new babies. She just  let them sleep on her chest each night. When they wanted to eat, she sat up, nursed and fell back into a blissful sleep. I decided nothing could be worse then what I was doing now, I would give it a try.

That night, I set up a pillow fortress. I was slightly raised at the head with pillows under each shoulder/arm and on my side so I wouldn't roll over (since I was one of those that was convinced it would not true). I nursed the boys before "bedtime", leaned back into my soft nest and had my husband ensure each tiny baby was secure on my chest. I kissed their heads, cried softly at the extreme joy I felt at these precious creatures I had created and then...

...I felt a little wiggle, I glanced at the clock and four hours had passed...FOUR HOURS?! What just happened? Neither I nor the babies had slept so soundly in days. This was HEAVEN!!! I could feel every breath, my heart steadied theirs, a slight wiggle and I was awake and ready feed again and they barely had to ask for it. No suckling I slept through, no crying to get my attention...just a little wiggle, maybe a hand to their mouth and we were snacking, then back to sleep.

For the next four months those two little lumps and I slept heart to heart. I started to question what those moms were talking about, I was sleeping just like my babies! Sound as could be. I felt so rested that I rarely had to "sleep when babies slept" and could just relax when the did nap and actually continue to do things around the house.

I was a new mommy!

Thinking back, I (personally) feel setting this foundation of "sleep safety" (I just made that up) helped teach them early on that sleep is not scary, it's safe. Mommy is as close as can be as is your beloved milk. So don't fear little one, just sleep.

I mean, that fourth trimester thing is no joke! These poor angels need their mommies touch around the clock and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to help them adjust to life on the outside...of my body.

Since I was already incredibly organized and routined prior to having kids, twins just made me even more on top of it. I created a routine for everything, especially the evening; sleep preparation time. I had read (#newmom scrolling the internet at all hours of the night to solve every issue you are currently facing) that it would help them sleep, put it into practice and can say that it is 100% true for me.

Our evening routine was and still is (drummmroollll:

  • Dinner
  • Bathies
  • Grease Up 
  • Jammies
  • Books
  • Bed
Not really much to it aside from it being the same every. singe. night.

Now, the details:

DINNER - I am big on family dinners. We eat as a family, at the table each night. Nothing but good, old fashioned conversation is allowed during this time. And, as to be expected with three little boys, each meal is a total mess. Add in the filth of the day and they are for sure getting a bath. After they finish their dinner, they ask to be excused from the table, strip down and run into the bath tub which I prepare with bubbles and toys. (I sneak off and do this as they enjoy their dessert...if they earned it that is. No eating dinner, no treat).

BATHIES - Before the boys were crawling and getting super dirty each night, I used to only give them a bath a few times a week. On the "off" nights, I would wipe them down with a warm towel and resume the nightly activities.  At about 6 months on, they seemed to be constantly dirty, so they got a bath each night. And trust me, on those random times we are somewhere and I try and skip it, they are not having it...they look forward to getting "clean and cozy" as they say.

Once they are squeaky clean, they hop out, wrap up in their hoodie towel and grab their toothbrush (I get those prepped on the sink while the water drains from the tub). This is by far Dude's favorite part, he LOVES a good toothbrush. They all start on their own, then one by one they "step right up" (must be said in a circus/carnival voice) to the sink so I can help get those last remaining "sugar bugs" off.  Once rinsed, they head into the their room for phase two.

** This was definitely I skill I had to teach as those twin toddlers of mine loved to run around the house naked and giggling, thankfully they are well oiled machines now and Dude just follows suit**

GREASE UP - I have never used lotion on my guys, only organic coconut oil. I get the huge one at Costco and fill up a small mason jar that I keep in their room and refill as needed.  Once we all transition into their room, I start greasing them up (Dude is always first as he loves to pee on everything) from head to toe and try to work in a little leg massage on those growing muscles.

I also would like to sign myself up for this portion of the evening as it looks like Heaven. Alas, my husband continually refuses to add me to the line up. Rude.

JAMMIES - Once greased, we throw on their jammies and roll on my favorite essential oil I've used with them since infancy; Young Living's Gentle Baby. As minis I only rolled  it on the bottom of their feet. As big guys, it goes straight on the back of their necks. However, they now ask to do it themselves, so I have been phased out.

A quick comb through their conditioned hair and they are off to play within their room while I move on to the next...and the next...and soon to be, the next.

BOOKS - Now that all three are clean, greased and dressed, it is time to relax with a good book. They each get to choose one for me to read. As they go to their library and decide what thrilling piece of literature will be read that evening, I close the blackout curtains which signals sleep mode.

They hop into bed as I settle in to read their top picks. Once I am done, the big boys have the choice to continue reading in bed with their flashlights, or have lights out. I would say 9 times out of 10 they ask for lights out. I am always part amazed, part thrilled.  One last potty trip and they are back in bed while I go and put The Dude down in his room.

(Dude down). I then take Dude into his room, close the door, draw the blackout curtains, turn on the noise maker/nightlight. We hug, kiss and then he gets set down, tucked in and I am out...about 30 seconds later, so is he.

I then return to the big boys room to also plug in their noise maker/nightlight and do one last snuggle. I head out and just like that...

The End.

Please know, one reason all this works so smoothly is because A) There are three of them and they are constantly playing like maniacs B) I make sure to run them like dogs. I keep them moving, rarely watch TV and prefer to keep them outside burning energy so they welcome sleep with open arms.

And as expected, there are some nights where more potty breaks are needed, waters ask to be refilled, additional cuddles are requested...but all in all, things are relatively smooth, with all my sweet angels sound asleep between 7-8pm.

It is incredibly rare that the boys wake up in the night for anything and while The Dude sometimes cries out, he quickly falls back asleep. The vast majority of our nights are filled with three sleepy little boys who don't wake again until 6:30am (really, anytime between 6am-7am), so yeah, I'll take it!!

I am sorry of this makes you hate me. Honestly, as I am re-reading it I kind of hate myself.

This is what I would suggest if you are struggling with your little sleepers...

1. FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR FAMILY.  Family bed, no kids allowed ever or somewhere in between, do what works for you. I always listen to my gut and do what feels right...and of course discuss everything, at length with my sister. Once you and your family have a plan, see if it works, if not, tweak it to what does work then stick with it.

2. TEACH GOOD SLEEP HABITS EARLY. Once you have worked through the trial and error phase of figuring out what works for you, stay consistent. As a breastfeeding advocate, I personally do not subscribe to any so-called, "sleep training" until they are at least a year old. If my itty, bitty baby is crying, I am up and with them immediately. I nurse on demand and since I sleep with my teeny tiny ones it works for me. But again, that is me. I personally feel that by teaching my angels that sleep was safe and I always responded to their distress, it helped them learn how to be good sleepers. Just a mom theory, not at all proven or suggesting that other ways aren't just as good. (Please revisit disclaimer as needed...)

3. CREATE A ROUTINE. As an educator and overall Type A, controlling mommy I am all about structure and routine. I think/have seen how behaviors are drastically different between structured environments with clear expectations, versus ones that aren't. For ME and MY FAMILY, I obvi go the more structured route. My kids know the way their evening will go (unless there is something special event, but we always talk about it beforehand) and there is no question as to what is coming next. Their little minds and bodies have adapted to it and they (ahem) seem to thrive.

4. STICK WITH THE ROUTINE. I always found one of the hardest parts of the whole sleep thing to be the regressions. They suck. Three days feels like three months and you wonder if your kids will ever again sleep through the night. Well, I assure you, they will. But this is when we mommies have to stick the convictions of commitment.

Honestly, I too fell to weak many a time with the twins and when they screamed/cried during the night and WOULD NOT go back to sleep for anything, I would bring them into bed with me. However, I was committed, so once they had fallen back into that safe sleep in my bed/arms, I would lug their big ole' bodies back into their beds, tuck them in, wait for a few minutes then creep out.  Dude has never come to bed with me and the only thing I have ever done to support his sleep is allow him to fall back into his deep sleep in the recliner in his room before putting him back down.

When it gets hard, stick with it. When all you want to do is quit, stick with it. From my experience, consistency is key.

Now that my guys grow bigger, sleeping in bed with mommy aka a slumber party is such a huge treat for them. They get really excited to snuggle in bed with me and fall asleep at hotels or while visiting family. Well...last time Clarke did ask me to please go into another bed as he would like to sleep was that.

5. KNOW, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. No matter what you decide or end up actually sticking with, as long as you and your littles are happy, nothing else matters. If you and your partner are all about sharing a family bed with your four sons, then more power to you!! I am sure that those four sons will one day NOT want to sleep in bed with their parents and before you know it all of your babies will be grown up. Trust the the hard nights will pass, the good ones will come again and at the end of the day, you are doing great mommy!

WHEW!! How was that for some sleep info!

Ask and you shall receiving, hoping to put this in IGTV for you all...emphasis on hoping.

Feel free to ask as many questions as needed!

Strive to thrive, 

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