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The Golden Archer

Sleep
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Sleep is the one thing we all dream about in the first three years with a child. How to make it become reality?

The first day home with a new child is full of mixed feelings. In my case, I was in a one room studio with my 8 day-old baby, and I had absolutely no clue what to do. I was searching my soul for the great motherhood instinct I had read about in books, and I obviously did not look in the right place, because I did not find it.

He was crying and I had no idea what to do, and whatever I did seemed to make it worse... the good thing was that I realized that when other people took him, it was even worse (yes! it is possible!).

Then, when Léo was 12 days old, we had to move to my sister's house, because the owner of the flat we rented cancelled our renting contract without checking this up with me.

After one more day surrounded by screams and wonder, we moved to my parents place, in the countryside.

One month later, Léo was still clearing his lungs and I was totally tired, nervous, and I just wished I could be alone with him.

Everyone around me knew better, could do better, and even knew someone who knew better.

They carried Léo, stuck their finger in his mouth, rocked him, and nothing worked.

When Léo was 6 weeks old, we moved to Ukraine, and I realized that I had the quietest baby in the world, who could sleep anytime, anywhere, never made a fuss about anything, was just as easy-going as I always thougth he was going to be like during my pregnancy.

But, in Ukraine, there was him and me, at night, he would wake up just about 5:30 or so, and I sang songs for him, and rocked him in my arms, and walked up and down the flat, and I cherish these moments of quiet and intense exchange between my son and me. He would fall back asleep and it would be time for me to get ready for work, so, many times, I just grabbed something in the wardrobe and tip-toed to the bathroom.

And at that stage, I knew that only I, his mother, knew better.


Co-Sleeping

I don't believe in set rules and telling people what is right or wrong. I think it is just up to everyone to decide what they want or don't.

If you don't feel comfortable co-sleeping with your child, if you feel he is intruding your space, then it is best you find a way to take him back to his room.

If you cannot be far from your baby and you have nightmares every time you close your eyes, then maybe you should consider sharing spaces in the night.

My son Léo is now three years old and I have always shared my bed with him. I bought a bed for him of course, bt lived in Ukraine, where I only found a traveling bed.
Every night, I consciously put my son in bed and since I had a 50 square meter bedroom, left his bed in one of the corners.

When I moved to Prague, we first lived in a one room apartment, and there was only one matress on the floor. Co-sleeping wa son its way.
We moved into a two-bedroom apartment, and I organized Léo's bedroom. However, every night, he ended up in my bed because my husband thought Léo was lonely in his bedroom.
I gave up trying to make a point, and Léo has been sleeping with me for the past 2 years.

However, I have the feeling that he can sleep easily and he trusts me for putting him in bed anywhere. He knows I am here and I look after him.

Time will come when I will buy him a nice bed and teach him to sleep alone, but I guess I will always miss looking at his rested face in the night or having his little hand grab me in the night and listening to him calling "maman!" in his dreams.




How Much Sleep?

A small child has many vital needs and sleep is one of them. They sleep a lot during the night (about 11 hours) and during the day, until they shows signs that they do not need it anymore. I sometimes hear parents say that their child does not sleep. This is possible, we are all individuals and we are all different. For example, every baby is "supposed" to nap in the morning and in the afternoon. I could always put Léo, my son, to bed in the afternoon, and in case I did not do it fast enough, he fell asleep wherever he was. But I have never seen him sleep in the morning. He could play and ask for my constant attention for two hours, but never closed an eye in the morning.
Some children need a lot of sleep, a nap and, why not, two naps, and others don't. This is true. However, I have often seen parents deciding in the place of their child that sleeping in the afternoon was over-rated. And I even heard one mother tell me that afternoon naps are entirely inforced for the comfort of Mums. I think this is a very strange remark and it makes me wonder... There is nothing comfortable in waiting for a toddler to wake up from his nap when you want to go shopping or visit some friends. There is nothing comfortable in trying to join a group for lunch and have to think how you will manage to sneak out in order to have your child sleep. I have never found afternoon naps convenient, but I know they are necessary.
I have seen some children who "do not need sleep" according to their parents, drag their feet after lunch and throw tantrum after tantrum, and still parents would not see the light! A tired child is not funny to be around!
It is a good thing to respect children as being small people who have different needs, and follow their biological clocks even if, sometimes, it is a burden to our adult life.

Sleep is the one thing everyone wants and when you are stressed about not getting enough, your infant knows it, he can sense it and feel it.

Babies are like sponges, they absorbe your feelings, and your thoughts, sometimes before you even realize you are having the thought.

It is easy to say "adapt your rythm to your child's rythm" but actually, when your baby finally sleep, it is "Mummy Time" and you can finally shave your legs or put on some make-up, or even just take a shower.

From my experience, I understand that the best is to simply forget about a good decent night of sleep until your baby turns three.

But there is a good reason to rejoice: never again in your life will you be the entire world to your child. There is a great community of feelings between a mother and her baby when they are both awake and exchanging looks in the middle of the night.

Just like anything else, it is better not to fight it but to learn and enjoy the moment.