Attention all parents: you need sleep too
Sleep (or lack off) can be one of the biggest challenges for parents, and while it’s critical for your little one’s growth and development - it’s vital for your health, too.
One of the most challenging parts of parenting can be teaching your little one to get to sleep and stay asleep! Unfortunately, they don’t come pre-programmed knowing how to get 40 winks and you often miss out on sleep trying to teach them.
A few bad nights’ sleep every now and then is something most people can cope with
, but sustained poor sleep, during the early days of raising a little one, can have a serious impact on your physical and mental health.
Impaired sleep can lead to fatigue, poor concentration, mood swings and affected judgement.
It’s important for parents to remain calm, positive and level headed to be able to care for their little one as best they can. Proper rest is essential for this, so take care of yourself by keeping trying to get as much shut eye as you can.
Here are some tips to help you get a little more sleep:
1. Take every opportunity you get to rest
You’ve probably heard the tip ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ and it’s right. Even if your baby is a ten minute napper, grab that opportunity and resist the urge to use that time to tackle household chores - no one has suffered because a towel wasn’t folded! Instead use those precious ten minutes to take a power nap - every little bit helps. Baby might even decide on a longer sleep, and you don’t want to miss that opportunity!
2. Share the care
Your little one will need night time settling and feeds throughout their first year, and it can be hard during this time to get uninterrupted rest. If you are breastfeeding this might be even harder, but ask your partner to share the care. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and the importance of rest, and ask them to take turns settling bub during the night or to look after bub in the early morning so you can have a nap.
3. Recruit family and friends
Friends and family can be an amazing support network helping to share the load. They are often more than happy to spend a few hours looking after your baby so you can get a few hours sleep or they may offer to cook a meal or do some laundry for you. If they offer to help, take it with both hands and if they don’t offer just ask! Easier said than done we know - so find tips on how to ask for help here
4. Don’t be afraid to seek extra support
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Online resources such as the Blue Room can offer practical information, support and inspiration on how to navigate the first thousand days. Alternatively, speaking to your child health nurse or GP can help too.
If lack of sleep is affecting your emotional wellbeing and your ability to cope, speak to your healthcare professional for ways to manage.
Remember that a rested parent is often better able to cope with the demands of raising a little one. It’s easy to feel pressured to keep on top of everything - washing, cleaning, cooking and maybe even catching up with friends. But remember, your emotional wellbeing and that of your little one is more important than a clean house, folded towels and gourmet home cooked meals.