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to think we can parent differently to SIL and avoid sleep problems?

(218 Posts)
GoingToRegretThis Tue 01-Jan-13 14:17:08

I have actually NC for this as not sure this thread is a wise idea, but want honest opinions.

We are just starting ttc number 1 after ages debating about it. One of DH big concerns is that the baby simply will not sleep, as this is what happens with SIL's children. They go to bed okay but are up and down all night, for example, waking up at 2 or 3am, getting into bed with their parents, refusing to sleep and wanting to play. SIL's children are 2 and 5.

DH is terrified of this as for financial reasons we will both have to WOH. He is prepared for a rough few months with a new baby but feels it will be a nightmare if we hit 2 years and are still surviving on < 4 hours/ night.

I think that SIL has naturally wakeful DC, but I also keep telling DH you can parent to minimise that. For ex, SIL will take the children into bed and not insist on them staying in their own beds. That is NOT a criticism, as she is a lovely mum and very child-centred. But I think we can be stricter, parent differently, and not encounter the same problems years down the line as she does.

Am I just a crazy optimist? Are there just some children who never sleep no matter what, and getting up with them is what you do? Or is it actually possible if you are a working parent to work out an okay routine with wakeful children?

Andro Thu 03-Jan-13 13:39:37

I didn't sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time until I was over 2 matter what my parents tried. I also hit maximum at 6 hours per night unless I was ill, to this day I only need 6 hours sleep (I've never had issues with tiredness/concentration/etc because of it either) - although I don't do well when my sleep is disturbed.

Permanentlyexhausted Thu 03-Jan-13 13:25:52

I have one very good sleeper who is always in their own bed and sleeps very soundly. And I have one appallingly bad sleeper who spends more time awake than asleep. Interstingly, it is the bad sleeper who is always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6am when my alarm goes off.

So I'm not sure different parenting styles will provide all the answers to sleep issues.

BlueberryHill Thu 03-Jan-13 09:03:03

I don't think that having a fixed bedtime routine means a lack of flexibility. All my children had a fixed bedtime when they were younger, TBH having the DTs both kicking off at the same time because they were tired was something I avoided, it just wasn't worth it. We have taken all three away and stayed with relatives. I found that once a good bedtime routine is established it stayed in place no matter where they were. As they have got older, they are now 2 1/2 and DS 6 we can flex it a lot, teatimes and bedtimes. As your child grows his / her routine will change anyway.

Pooka Thu 03-Jan-13 08:54:49

Ds and ds1 sleep in their beds just fine, and have since about 10 months.

Ds2 (age3) sleeps fine in his bed until about 1am when he invariably gets in our bed. But he's stealthy, smells lovely and isn't much of a wriggler AND we have a huge bed. So that doesn't really interfere with our sleep. He co slept until he was about 14 months and my goodness, was bliss compared with ds1 and dd n terms of how rested I felt. Night feeds were a doodle. The older two just never really settled in our bed, strangely. They'd kick and wriggle and we'd wake them up and vice versa. Whereas ds2 has always settled best (in the bed he was born in too, which is spooky now I think about it).

Anyway - I suppose others would say ds2 is wakeful, in as much as he tends to arrive n our room at some point. But is only awake for as long as it takes him to get up the stairs. Ds1 is 7 and finds getting off to sleep tougher now he's older and more to think about. But he potters in his room and is no bother. Dd is 9 and similar, she reads and listens to Harry potter cd until she drops off.

cory Thu 03-Jan-13 08:44:46

Jinsei Wed 02-Jan-13 14:21:21

"Of course, there are always happy mediums, but it's worth bearing in mind that you have to prioritise what you want. If you make choices about one aspect of your parenting, chances are it will impact on something else as well, and not necessarily as intended."

Very wise point here. We also prioritised portability- not much of a choice really as all relatives live a long way away and we had to be prepared to travel and stay in other people's houses. We had other friends whose children grew up so inflexible that they couldn't even stay out half an hour over teatime by the time the child was 3 as child had to have tea at exactly the same time in her own house. Would never have worked for us, but suited them.

BabiesNeedInstructions Thu 03-Jan-13 07:03:14

Oh, and the 5 year old can use a TV remote. No reason for SIL to be up just because they are. I bet if she put a safety gate over the 2yo's door and left them to play they'd soon stop getting out of bed.

One other thing's for sure with kids though - your definition of a lie-in will change forever....

MrsHoarder Thu 03-Jan-13 04:52:56

Just out of interest, how supportive is your BIL? Because its sounding like their issue is that not disturbing him is more important than the children learning to sleep though (or at least lie quietly in their beds). It just seems odd that he's the one complaining about sleep deprivation whilst she is up all night with the children.

BabiesNeedInstructions Thu 03-Jan-13 00:26:10

If your SIL's kids are up watching DVDs at 4am it's pretty obvious why they keep getting up then! WWYD aged 5?!

It's true what others have said that you get the children you're given, but you can definitely use techniques to get the best sleep out of your kids that they're capable of, if that's what you choose to prioritise as a parent. Sounds like BIL and SIL have lost their way a bit, probably through exhaustion.

We parented our 2 ds the same way as each other, and ds1was terrible as a baby while ds2 is quite good. Temperament matters hugely. We're probably at the stricter end of the spectrum and used sleep training on ds1 which mean he now consistently sleeps through until after 7am aged 2. But that was our choice because without sleep I turned out to be someone who couldn't stop crying and couldn't function and it was affecting how I could look after him.

From our experience I'd say that absent any illness or SN issues, you really shouldn't need to be up all night for years. But just be flexible and see what happens. Good luck TTC.

olliethedinosaur Wed 02-Jan-13 19:43:42

Well, I don't think you are being entirely unreasonable. I found, when pregnant with my eldest, that people were keen to tell me that I would not sleep for two years, the baby would cry all night, etc. I can happily say that sleep problems are NOT inevitable.

DS1 slept for twelve hours from 11 weeks on nothing but breastmilk (and was no trouble before that, just a quick night feed). He went down asleep and we didn't hear from him til morning, unless he was ill - which was rare. We were lucky, but we did do things that helped - good bedtime routine, put down awake, night feeds kept quiet and boring.

DS2, despite doing all the same things, is not so great. His usual wake up time is 4am, and it kills me to start my day then so we shush and pat and sometimes bring him into our bed so he will doze off. 70% of the time, he goes down awake and falls asleep alone, the other 30% we are shushing and patting for a while. There seems to be no reason why he will go to sleep alone some nights and not
others. Illness will really disturb his sleep and he's ill much more than DS1.

You can do things to help, but a lot of it is luck.

Peka Wed 02-Jan-13 15:01:32

Hiya, one thought - have you asked your mum or DH's mum what kind of a sleeper you were? If you or he were legendarily bad then I wouldn't hold my breath...

Fluffy1234 Wed 02-Jan-13 14:50:44

I was lucky with my 3dc sleeping. They all slept through a short night, for example 11 to 6 at seven weeks and were sleeping 12 hours a night at 12 weeks. I did the night feeds in the early weeks in darkness apart from a plug in night light and only changed nappies if really essential. Day time sleeps were downstairs in noisy, busy, bright rooms. I also either did a double feed in the evening or for dc3 (who got sick a lot) a big gap between the last 2 feeds so he drank a lot before his big sleep.

Crawling Wed 02-Jan-13 14:37:11

just thought I would say I didn't plan on a child with severe special needs and no routine would make her sleep through. In fact I have to be awake and give her close supervision when ever she is awake as she will harm herself. Being strict or controlled crying won't change that ( she doesn't actually cry just wanders quietly). But I will say whatever sort of person your child is you will manage even if it is on 2 hours sleep grin

AmberSocks Wed 02-Jan-13 14:34:51


not read the entire thread,but not all babies/kids waske up in the night all the time.

some do,some dont,could depend on parenting or maybe thats just the way somekids are.

I have 4 kids and i dont think any of them have ever woken in the night (except for feeds in the very early days and if they were ill which has also been rare)

I do/have breastfed on demand (lying down during thenight)and co slept with all of them though,which i think is a big part of it.Obviously there must be kids who were in cots from day one who did the same but for me personally i found co sleeping easier(and lovelier)

DeckTheHallsWithBartimaeus Wed 02-Jan-13 14:25:05

oh and I think sleep is a very visible "problem" to outsiders. In my group of friends there have been a variety of problems:

unable to breastfeed,
diagnosed as failure to thrive,
refusing bottles/sippy cups/cups/spoons
refusing solids,
bad sleeping,
late crawling/walking,

and I'm sure there'll be more as the babies get older. However, the most common question is "how does the baby sleep?" so that problem gets talked about a lot more than the other problems!

I remember my friend asking me how on earth I got DS to accept a spoon but I looked blankly at her because he just did. Whereas her DD refused point blank.

Jinsei Wed 02-Jan-13 14:21:21

Just one more thing to throw into the mix, OP, which is worth bearing in mind. As stated on here, some parents are very rigid about their bedtime routines etc, and that may well help them to establish good sleep patterns. However, from what I have observed, it also robs them of any flexibility or spontaneity, as they become slaves to their routines. We have been much more laid back about stuff like that, and while dd isn't the best sleeper ever, she is one of the most portable, adaptable kids I know.

Of course, there are always happy mediums, but it's worth bearing in mind that you have to prioritise what you want. If you make choices about one aspect of your parenting, chances are it will impact on something else as well, and not necessarily as intended. Ultimately, what it boils down to is the fact that there is no universal "right" way of doing things, just what is "right" for your family and for the kind of relationship that you want with your children.

DeckTheHallsWithBartimaeus Wed 02-Jan-13 14:20:36

I think it's normal to worry about babies' sleeping if you see another family struggling with it. But as a PP said, when you're in it, you just go with it.

I always needed 10 hours a night. Then along came DS. Who slept fairly well until he hit 4 months. Then it was awful. I often cried from exhaustion, but I did get through it.

Finally, at 12 months, he got officially diagnosed with reflux and was given meds which actually work. They have made a huge difference to his sleep and although he still wakes once a night, unless he is ill or teething, it's very easy to get him back down again.

However, you do need to find what works for you. I had few fixed ideas but did say that co-sleeping was not for me. At 8 months I caved in because I was back at work and really needed more sleep. We co-slept most nights (to help combat exhaustion) until DS was 11 months then he went back in his cot and stayed there except for the other night when he had a really high temperature and ended up in bed with me cos I wanted to keep an eye on him

Looking back over the last 15 months I honestly don't think I could have parented DS better for him to sleep better. He just isn't a good sleeper and with his reflux, he was often in pain so waking up. In fact, I'm glad I did parent him like I did (always going in to him, not doing CC etc.) because when we got the reflux diagnosis I knew that this is what was causing the sleep problems - not my parenting.

My DS doesn't wake up because he wants to play or to be naughty. He wants to sleep, he just can't for whatever reason.

post Wed 02-Jan-13 13:01:42

No, you can't really say fairer than that. I think more people should have those conversations!

GoingToRegretThis Wed 02-Jan-13 12:24:07

Also I should be clear, SIL doesn't co sleep, at least not as understand that term.

The girls have their own beds in their own room but they find it hard to settle and then one or other is up all the time which wakes the other up. So one will be talking and the other can't get to sleep, then one gets out of bed and starts peeping round the door, then the other gets up too, then SIL settles them again but at 1am it's 'Mummy I can't go sleep' again so she tucks them up for a cuddle with her.

But as often as not she just gets up with them as BIL wakes up then. So it is not uncommon for them to be downstairs playing, watching a DVD at 4am as they simply won't go back to bed.

SIL is a good mum, her girls are lovely and polite and ahead for their age, I think they just are not good sleepers and I wonder if it's possible to invest in making a child a better sleeper within their own 'sleep range' iyswim. Sounds in many but not all cases it is, which is heartening.

GoingToRegretThis Wed 02-Jan-13 12:20:41

Blueberry, Glimmer, Sarah - yes, I think you are all right.

Basically DH had no contact with children really and like most blokes was a bit oblivious to them. Then DN1 came along and he thought she was the most amazing thing ever BUT then whenever he stayed with BIL it was all 'I only got 2.5 hours of sleep last night' and then the whole thing where SIL announced she was not returning to work and poor BIL felt like everything was on him.

It wasn't of course and they survived, and DH doesn't think I will do that. But I think it is his only model of being a parent and it does sort of scare him.

Actually post it is funny you say that, I had that very convo with him last night in bed after this thread, and he basically I won't lie, I am scared about aspects of it, but I committed to having children with you and I will do my level best to be a good father.

I don't think you can say fairer than that really. And in some ways I'd rather he go into it like that and be pleasantly surprised than be like my own dad who didn't even know what a nappy was.

Also lots of good tips here like Cheung's so thanks for that, I may save this thread for pointers if we get lucky grin

RainbowSpiral Wed 02-Jan-13 12:18:55

I personally think its about teaching children to go back to sleep on their own when they wake in the night. If they can do that you have cracked it. But you do need to think about this from the beginning and it's probably an opposite method of parenting than co-sleeping. We went for own bedroom from early age and also the boys shared which has helped.

peaceandlovebunny Wed 02-Jan-13 11:59:58

living with your own children is nothing like looking at a family situation from the outside. i distinctly (sp?) remember telling my then-husband that the baby would fit in with us, there would be no need for things to change.


after the baby was born, i learnt a lot.

Nanny0gg Wed 02-Jan-13 11:57:40

Bunbaker: I'm inclined to think that those parents who think their parenting has made their children sleep through from an early age have never had a baby that just won't go to sleep. Same as those parents who have children who aren't fussy eaters - they have never had to deal with a very fussy eater. In their minds these children don't exist, just useless parenting.

This. With bells on.

post Wed 02-Jan-13 11:50:07

I think there are lots of wise words about choosing to prioritise sleep training; that's certainly possible, and knowing that it still might not work; also very possible.

But I'm also picking up, I think, that you're taking on the role of managing your dh's worries, looking for reassurances to present to him, etc? Id advise you not to take that on as a job for yourself, I think that could end up being as stressful as anything else, if (when) things are hard and there's a bit of 'I told you it would be like this, you said it would be ok,' iykwim?

I actually think you're being wise to think about how you want to do this ahead of time, and you sound as realistic as anyone can be who hasn't had dcs about how it might be. And quite lovely. But I think it would be a good idea to also say to your dh 'we can decide that we'd like to do it like this, and it might well help. but there will be huge disruption, we will lose sleep, sometimes it might feel like as much as we can bear. Knowing that, do you still want to do this?'. It just feels like it sets a bit of an equal intention between you, does that make sense? Rather than it being your job to make it manageable for him.

BlueberryHill Wed 02-Jan-13 11:37:55

I can understand why the OP's DH is focusing on the sleep aspect. My BIL and SIL have a child who is difficult about sleeping, doesn't sound quite as bad as the OPs but not far off. It is something they talk about a lot as it impacts on their quality of life. If you don't have kids and your brother has one that doesn't sleep and talks about the downsides a lot, then that is the majority of what your DH hears about children. He will find it difficult to look at the positives.

I didn't know what I was getting into first time round, that is normal so don't feel bad about asking the question OP. I've always wondered about my DN, how much was him not being a good sleeper and how much down to not have a proper routine in place. Before anyone flames me, when he was little he didn't have a set bedtime, was up with the adults in the evening, every evening so why would he want to go to sleep? It has settled down now with a bedtime routine, but he still have bad nights / phases and he is now 4. I think that he is just a child who finds it difficult to sleep.

With DS1 we made the beginners mistake of always feeding him to sleep / rocking him to sleep and then at about 12 months we decided to try to sleep train and give him different cues to go to sleep, we did a mixture of the ssh / pat / crying routine. He is now a great sleeper and was from 18 months. We went on to have twins, they are now two, they are good sleepers, DTD1 is great, from 7.30 pm to 7.30 am. DTS a bit more tricky but both of them get themselves off to sleep. They learned to self settle from the word go, because there was no way I could rock two babies to sleep. However, I think that I am really lucky with them, they are good sleepers and I helped them along

Good luck, remember they are fun, everything is just a phase and pick your battles.

Glimmerberry Wed 02-Jan-13 11:36:41

Oh, and the final thing is that having children is bloody exhausting. Even if they sleep 12 hours each night. Once you have one you are going to know tiredness like you've never known it before.

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