I cant seem too, I don't know about you but I feel like I'm operating at a high level of alertness all the time. Like in the American movies, 'we've gone in to Defcon 5 !' they always seems to be saying. If you don't know what it is , I had to look it up defcon levels are levels of high alert to any situation or emergency. But it occurred to me as I lay on the end of my daughters bed last night in the wee hours that it suited us mums. We have mumcon levels 1-5. One being the highest and five the lowest if we follow American system.
I think we all bob along at level 5 on a daily basis , always watching , always aware of where they are and what they are doing. I guess that why we are asked as they age where stuff is all the times, as we notice everything and seem to take stock of the households coming or goings without realising it. Mummy, wheres my .... Insert what ever is lost or they cant find even though it is right in front of them. Hubbie even realises our super heighten state... seen my glasses or keys! But this amplified level of awareness is never more 'on' than at night. Maybe as the house is quieter we can hear more, but I find I am privy to every movement my child makes.
I was warned by a friend, a mother of two that in becoming a mummy, I would not sleep for at least the first four years. I figured this advice came from them being up at all hours through the night. It's not, its me, I am up at all hours while they sleep soundly! My defcon level rises slowly as they go to sleep , firstly once my wee one is in bed... I'm listening to see if she is going to stay in bed, then to her settling down , then the sounds of her sleeping. Next its when I go to bed, I do one more mental or intense listen in before settling down myself. This is of course is after I have had a visual on her, done her dream wee and put her back in to bed, rearranged the toys , taken all the things she has acquired in bed that will be painful to roll over on to, out ( Peppa pig figures, small cars etc ) and turned off the night light, music and redrawn curtains so the morning light doesn't wake her too early. Then defcon goes to 3, there is no way I switch off at night. I am bolt up right if she farts. It sucks, as it takes me ages to relax again and then she moves and I repeat the sequence. Then there is defcon 2 if she actually cries out or wakes. You spend minutes listening for her... was it a one off cry off or is that the start of something? Then move to listening to her.. analysing the cry.. is it getting stronger, more awake , need attention or will she go over? Defcon 1 is when you deem you are actually needed and trudge in to her room usually to find in the in-between journey she has rolled over and you aren't needed only, to get back in to bed and she wakes again and you start process once more.
But like last night , I was needed , she had had a bad dream, she was shaking, breathing heavily , not really awake but just enough need attention. Which turned out to be full on out of bed cuddle with soothing sounds and then lying with her, holding hands as she calmed. This is where the idea for this blog came from as I lay awkwardly at the end of her bed waiting for her to hump ( double breath ) over in to sleep. There I was, dozing as she settled, knowing that it was all too easy to fall in to a deep sleep myself and wake up freezing with a sore neck and a stuff animal as a pillow and its tail up my nose at three in the morning. Thinking 'oh great , here I am again and have to do the walk of shame back to my now cold side of the bed and husband who has of course slept through the whole thing'. I swear I'm sleeping on his magic side of the bed one of these days as he seems to get a full 8 hours and wonder why I'm so tired as she is 'sleeping through the night !! '
If you do mange to get your wee one over and not pass out yourself, there is the bed gymnastics and a lava floor to contend with . Why is it so hard to get yourself out of their room ... its like you're in the crystal maze and have to untangle yourself from them, she feel asleep holding my hand and when I tried to extricate myself too early she stirred and gripped tighter. Then use ( in my case ) some non existent core muscle to get off the bed. Remembering in the dark where the squeaky floor boards are and hold the door handle in just the right way it doesn't click. Honestly if there was night vision camera on us parents as we navigate the noisy dangers of a toddlers room, I think we would look like terrible cat burglars and trainee ninjas. Roll off bed, double turn to the left, past the music box, don't touch the music box or its miss a turn and go back to the beginning. Hop skip and a jump with twist and double pike over the laundry basket, sticking your landing and your out the door. Or as my Dad had to do , put tape on the places he could place his hands and feet as he crawled, belly to the floor out of my bed room in case I popped my head up. He must have looked like a weird combination of twister and mission impossible.
There is also the survival gear that you need to remember to bring with you as you enter their room in the first place. Too many times have I been caught with not enough layers on. And rocking them gently back to sleep , I am freezing. So have a night pack ready at the door, warm slippers or bed socks, dressing gown preferably a long one or warm over stuffed jumper to fling on that smells just like you for instant comfort and settlement factors. You can get stuck in an arm chair / rocking chair or lying /hanging precariously on a side of their single bed, mashed between the wall and them or the bed barrier and the multitude of stuff toys they insist in going to bed with for far longer than you sleepily anticipated. You never know how long you will be there. Also if you can go to the loo before you go in , trust me in the most inopportune times your bladder will go.. 'oh are we up , then ill get in on the action' and you're freezing , uncomfortable , attached to toddler who won't let you go and now busting for a wee !
So I guess my friends were right , I won't sleep properly for the first four or so years as there is a combination of them up and then me up even when they are not. Spending my night in perpetual state of eavesdropping on my child. Who of course wakes the next morning refreshed and rearing to go. And hubbie who adds to the problem of just as I'm about to go over.. starts snoring! But I know its all worth it and it makes me a good parent , if somewhat of a day zombie. Somehow we can manage to function on less sleep. I don't know if the worry and listening in ever ends, as now with my teens, who roam the hallways at all hours , then sleep all day I cant get them out of bed, adds to my night owl persona. Im sure this worry and extra stress we put on ourselves when we are supposed to be powering down, switching off and resting, isn't good for our mental psych, But I do take solace knowing my child is safe and secure in their beds, processing their day, growing in their sleep. Developing cognitively and perfecting their gross motor skills. I have to justify my over awareness, *helicopter parenting style somehow. And don't we just love them that wee bit more when we watch them sleep. Thank God for coffee !!
* Helicopter parenting- always hovering around our kids