So you’ve made it past the first 3 months and let’s face it, it was hell. You love your little one like you never thought you could love another being. But that lack of sleep is still making you feel like you’re living in someone else’s body. And it should. Studies show that not sleeping enough or not sleeping well when you are sleeping, can cause all kinds of problems like depression, memory loss, and of course fatigue. You’ve made it past those first 3 months and things are supposed to start being different right? Ummm…. Yes?? Well, Maybe for some, but certainly not for me. My baby monitor is actually keeping me from sleeping.
Even after my girls started sleep training at 5 months, and considering that there were two to train, it was a relatively easy process. With the occasional one twin waking around 3am, I had finally reached the home stretch where sleep was looking to be a part of my life again or so I thought. At 6 ½ months, I felt like I deserved a gold star because my girls were getting through 10 hours of sleep at night with 2 solid naps in the day. I had put together this whole sleep and eating schedule together like a rock star. Of course I’d be sleeping like I used to soon.
Ha! So now the girls are 10 months and sleeping almost 11 hours a night. I get into bed around 9:30pm which I think is pretty early. It takes me a little while to actually fall asleep mostly because I am thinking of all the shit I need to do the next day…. Laundry, making the girls food, do I have enough food to steam and puree, I need to respond to that email, return 5 calls, are we low on toilet paper?, I’ve got to make doc appointment, etc. The list in my head never seems to end. Thank god for Siri and my To DO list. I often rattle off things into my phone half asleep.
After checking the baby monitor that is literally 8 inches from my head to make sure the girls are good, I finally drift off. I’m dreaming surely and surely I will stay asleep since I’m just wiped out from entertaining the girls all day. I barely kept my eyes open during dinner. Chewing and swallowing felt like a task I was too tired for. So I’m snuggled in bed and ready to drift so what could possibly wake me up from this much needed sleep? I’ll tell you what wakes me up, thinking of the baby monitor by my head and the need to keep checking it throughout the night to make sure the girls are still alive. As if I could tell since they are ASLEEP!!! And even if I try and rationalize with myself that the girls are fine, that I don’t need to check the baby monitor, that I will HEAR them if there’s a problem, I still wake up at least 4 to 5 times at night to check that damn baby monitor.
Let’s face it, our parents didn’t have baby monitors. They assumed we were ok if they didn’t hear us screaming. But for our generation of baby monitors and spy cameras for nannies, we couldn’t imagine not being able to see our precious ones every second of their existence. It’s kind of crazy actually. I have had girlfriends share with me that they stare at their monitors even in the day as their LO sleeps or is trying to sleep. I will admit I have done the same. Have we truly become helicopter parents? While I don’t stare at the baby monitor as much anymore, there were times that I couldn’t take my eyes off the darn thing until both monkeys were fast asleep. AS if STARING at it, would make them fall asleep faster.
So what’s the solution? I say, put them down and walk away. Go clean those bottles you need to do and check on the monitor in 10 minutes. Don’t stare at it. It won’t make your LO fall asleep any faster. In fact, I like to think of the phrase, “A watched pot never boils.” You won’t or can’t make things better by staring at your child. And maybe instead of keeping the monitor 8 inches from your head at night while YOU try to sleep (which is probably hazardous to your health like having your cell phone near by) perhaps try and put it across the room at least. I actually tried it, and I found that when I woke up and wanted to pick it up and stare at it, I was too lazy to actually get out of bed to do it so I fell back asleep. It’s a baby step (ha “baby step”) to eventually selling that damn thing on Craig’s List. At some point we all have to realize that the “helicopter parenting” is ruining our ability to trust our instincts as parents. That instinct that has survived billions of human beings on this planet but more importantly, our ability to get on with our day or that much needed solid night of sleep.