I need more sleep - Slumberdown Ambassador Announcement
We always say when we walk around a supermarket that you can spot a newborn parent. There's a mum gently swaying with her trolley (with no baby in it) because it's become quite normal to rock back and forwards as if you are at sea. Then there's a dad at the checkout who appears to be sleeping with his eyes open, getting 20 seconds of rest whilst the kind checkout person offers to help pack the bags. You head into parenthood knowing it's going to be tiring. Everyone joked when I was waddling like a penguin at 8 months pregnant, "Get those lie-ins in while you can, kiss goodbye to those full nights of sleep!"
What we didn't expect was that, 6 years down the line, we would feel just as exhausted as those early days! Ok, so we are not up pacing the hallway, singing lullabies and squirting milk onto our forearms, leaving little splodges all over the carpet, but almost every night we hear a little cry, sometimes a whimper, sometimes a scream, followed by a thud as one or both of the boys clamber out of bed and head to us.
Our boys have never been – what I have enviously read about others' children – "good sleepers". Since we moved last September, I can probably count on one hand how many nights they have slept for a solid 8 or so hours. I worry when they stay over with grandparents that they will wake with a nightmare and Sammy is missing out on sleepovers with his friends because we just don't trust that he wouldn't need us to drive over in the middle of the night to settle him. And sleep deprivation does horrible things to you, doesn't it?! Suddenly you want to cry at the foot of the stairs when you realise you've dropped a sock from the pile of washing in your arms back up on the top step. Little things just tip you over the edge. We become a house of crocodiles all snapping at each other, Rich and I competing for the coveted title of 'Most Tired 2015'. Of course there's no prize for the winner, but still we spar back and forwards over how many times each of us got up to tuck them back in, who had one of them snuggled into us, running their cold feet up and down your calves at 3am, and who got relegated to their bed in the attic room.
And then when I'm lying in the darkness at 4am, stroking those floppy locks and feeling my pyjamas soaked against my skin with their tears, I realise they aren't waking up on purpose. That when you have a bad dream (last night it was about caterpillars), you just need a cuddle, a human security blanket, like puppies who curl up in a pile, sharing the comfort of hearing each other's heartbeats.
Motherhood is tough, parenthood is tough. I remember sharing those grainy selfies in the middle of the night, as a cry for help, and being so thankful for the positive comments from all the other mums and dads out there going through the same. For us those times aren't just contained to when they are poorly or a handful of odd occasions, it's almost every single night. And sleep is the one thing you can't do without! We've even tried pushing their beds together to make a big double for them but they still prefer piling in with us. Ollie loves to wriggle into the curve of your body, with his head in the crook of my arm, and Sammy would quite happily sleep on my chest every night, like a newborn. And if he creeps in without me noticing, which his stealth like feet does manage on occasions, he loves to climb on my back, like a baby turtle, to be the closest he possibly can.
So I was thrilled to be asked to represent Slumberdown this year as one of their Ambassadors, alongside 2 of my favourite bloggers Katie from Mummy Daddy Me and Tara from the Sticky Fingers Blog. I need help, we need help, but we are not sure quite what to do. We keep saying, oh Sammy is still so little at 6, he won't be wanting to sleep with his mummy when he's 13, but I'm not sure that's a sustainable answer for our broken nights! When we moved we knew it was going to be another change to deal with, another unsettled time, so we raced to redecorate their attic bedroom first, a joint big boys' room, with new bits and their favourite familiar old bits. They'd had their own rooms in our last house but wanted to share a room when we finally moved in. If you fancy a nose you can see their aeroplane bedroom tour here!
Slumberdown appreciate that there are all sorts of reasons why we have trouble sleeping. As part of their commitment to helping every family to get a better night's sleep, they teamed up with Professor Jason Ellis PHD who is the Professor of Sleep Science at Northumbria University, to bring you The Sleep Clinic. Now it may seem obvious, what we need to do to get more sleep, but do we actually do them in practise. Rich and I sit up on our phones, I regularly take one more peek at my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds with the light of the screen hidden under the duvet at gone midnight.
I'd never thought about buying us all different pillows based on the way we sleep. It hadn't crossed my mind that there are pillows specially designed for people like me who sleep on their front, or for Rich who always sleeps on his side. We use the same duvet all year round, out of habit, and it hadn't really occurred to me that changing the tog of our duvet for the changing seasons could help our tired bodies!
Over the next year we are going to be road testing the fantastic range of Slumderdown products, carrying out some family sleep challenges, I will try and keep the no make up-hair like a bird's nest first thing in the morning photos to a minimum, in the hope that we can really make a difference to our sleeping patterns.
We use the phrase, we just can't go on like this for much longer. There's only so long we can cope with our hectic work lives, busy family weekends and the house renovations on broken sleep. We are going to test out all the advice from The Sleep Clinic, trial a week of no screens in the bedroom, (I have warned my husband this is a sleep trial, not an excuse for any funny business trial!) getting to bed earlier, ditching the mid week drinks habit we've slipped into and lots of other ideas to help settle the boys at night.
I always remember my Granny and Grandpa had feather duvets. They were so well loved, I'd notice a couple of feathers float out onto the floor every time we visited, but they just felt so sumptuous, like a luxurious cuddle from a cloud when you were tucked into bed. I love that Slumberdown have their own range of goose and duck feather quilts and pillows which, even the boys, noticed were different from their regular covers. We snapped some photos before we made up the beds and even the woofers wanted to get in the action! No no no! As much as we love you, we are not spoiling you westies with feathers in your stinky bed! Even if you are super cute.
In fact you can enter here to win new pillows and duvets for your entire family! Check the site for full terms and conditions. Good luck! I'll be hosting some fab giveaways too, so make sure you check back in soon.
So what are your sleep problems? Do your kids sleep through? Are you one of the lucky ones?! I'd love to hear what keeps you up at night. Sometimes my head is so spinning with ideas I have to keep a pen and notepad next to me, so I don't end up with them whirring through my brain all night!
I am so happy to be part of the Slumberdown family this year, here's to hopefully finally getting our sleep issues under control! If only there were this quiet and angelic every night!