Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Look at those super happy faces! This was my Instagram life on my daughters 2nd birthday. My 'look at how well I am doing' attitude.
My reality was far from this picture though. I was heavily pregnant with my son and had been through a severely complicated pregnancy involving a cancer diagnosis and 2 operations.
While I wont bore you with those details what I will say is that it took its toll on my daughter more than I had realised.
I had gone from a super active fun mum and childminder, with a house full of friends with her to play with every day, to a mum who couldn't pick her up and had to lay in bed all day recovering while she was left with her Nana. Looking back now I can appreciate the huge life changes she was put through, especially when you added the complication that her Daddy works away at sea so was also not around! When her brother finally made his safe arrival into the world I hoped our troubles were behind us but her sleep plummeted!
She had always been a bit fussy at times and there was always something that was 'wrong' at bedtime. She had always gone off well as a baby and actually slept through early on so it was a huge shock when this suddenly stopped.
There were early signs of trouble when I was pregnant , such as wanting a light on and asking to come to our bed, but they had gone unnoticed at the time with quick fixes put in place. I bought her a motion activated torch to keep by the side of her bed to help her if she was 'scared' and would let her come in for cuddles if it was after 5am. When he brother was born and her Daddy had gone back to sea again she started waking frequently in the night.
I was broken. Completely exhausted and in complete denial. I went back to childminding when my son was 6 weeks old and was determined that I could be a super mum and manage a new-born, toddler who wasn't sleeping and a busy business working 45 hours a week.
My daughter would wake frequently in the night and nothing worked. I tried cry-it-out, leaving her to cry herself to sleep. She would get so worked up that she made herself sick.
I tried lullabies and extra nightlights/ light shows. I tried 'tiring her out' so that she would crash at bedtime and hopefully sleep through. I started limiting her nap times too.
Not surprisingly, none of this worked. It just kept getting worse until we got to the point where she would be angrily screaming at me to let her sleep in my bed and much to my horror, on more than one occasion I would scream back.
I felt like a complete and utter failure. I was an Ofsted rated Outstanding childminder. I should have been able to fix my daughters sleep and have a happy, content child! I was so deep into it that I could not see a way out. There were nights that I stood my ground and had hours of battling until she finally went to sleep in her bed. Then I had nights were i couldn't cope and she got her way and ended up in my bed.
It was not until my husband returned from sea that we got on top of it. He came home to a broken wife, overtired daughter (but thankfully a baby boy who slept like a dream) and took control for me when I couldn't. He bought multiple books that promised us the answers and we ended up making our own sleep plan. It was very harsh and involved a lot of tears but we did get through it. However, even though my daughter sleeps amazingly now, she is still the one of our two children who 'try it on' every night. She does not want to be left and want's one more cuddle. The amount of mum guilt I feel about her attachments and that period of her early life will stick with me forever.
Fast forward 4 years and we are very lucky to have 2 children who sleep well and are both in school. When my son started school my childminding career came to an end I was not expecting, but it just was not working for my family anymore. However, I had read about sleep consultants and had been following some for a long time. I took the plunge and qualified myself.
My only regret as a mum was not seeking the help from a sleep consultant when I needed it myself! As my husband said recently, he would have paid anything to have someone help us the way I can now help other families.
So, if you are thinking about hiring a sleep consultant, just do it! Even if it is not me! Life is too short to be overtired, stressed and depressed! One thing I have always told me children is 'sleep fixes everything', and I really believe it does! Sometimes we just need a guiding hand to help us through the hard times.