Our night time hours have left much to be desired the last few months. We’ve had all three kids hitting typical sleep problems/disruptions (bedtime struggles, nightmares, bathroom visits, diaper changes, feedings) at the exact same time. A normal night has us up 6+ times with the three kids. We’ve joked that nighttime is a lot like daytime except it is darker. By the time February rolled around I was running almost completely on adrenaline.
I’ve spent plenty of time wishing we had family close by so I could get a nap. Since that isn’t an options we’ve made lots of effort figuring out ways to improve night sleep and ways for me to sneak in a nap. We’ve found a few solutions that are helping me stay out of complete crisis mode and have some more rested days too:
The Goodnight Club. We’ve had a solid bedtime routine for years (brush teeth, get into pajamas, read scriptures, say prayer, read a story, tuck kids into bed). Unfortunately we hit a snag where the kids forget what happened when we got to the end of the routine – the stay in bed and go to sleep part. It would turn into all three kids screaming and crying for up to two hours until everyone got settled.
We introduced the Goodnight Club to Emily. Every night that she stayed in bed (except to go to the bathroom) she would get to color in her goal chart. She saw a drawing kit when she went shopping with Andrew that she really wanted. We told her she could earn it by staying in bed. She asked how much it was ($12) and she decided it should take 12 nights to earn it. Fine by us! It took close to 2.5 weeks to fill in the whole chart. We all celebrated when she earned the drawing kit. Bedtimes have been much improved for everyone!
Noise Machine. The typical crying pattern at our house is Laura starts crying, then Nathan starts crying about Laura crying, then Emily gets mad that Nathan is waking her up. We’ve been trying to stop the cycle by putting a noise machine in Nathan’s room at night. It has made a huge difference and has helped him sleep better during the night (he wakes up a few times normally).
Move the bassinet next to my side of the bed. This shouldn’t have taken us three kids to figure out, but it did. I get way more sleep just leaning over to bring Laura into our bed instead of walking across the room.
Take naps while all three kids are awake. I try to get Emily and Nathan’s quiet time to line up with Laura’s nap but it is still a toss up. Usually by the time I get the two older ones settled Laura is awake and wants to eat, needs a diaper change, and then gets resettled just about the time the other two are finishing quiet time. No break for me.
Emily and Nathan are REALLY good with Laura so I’ve started to take naps while all three are awake when I absolutely need to sleep. Last week I pulled out the play dough for the older two and Laura happily watched so I got a 20 minute power nap on the couch.
Another day I pulled out the beeswax and Emily polished all the wood toys in the house while Nathan talked to Laura. This was a super successful day because then all three had quiet time/naps line up so I got two power naps!
Use disposable diapers at night. We love our cloth diapers and use them during the day (big money saver!), but at night we needed to remove some variables. We’ve been putting the youngest two in disposable diapers at night to ensure they are as comfortable as possible and not leaking (it’s hard to get a cloth diaper night set up that keeps them feeling dry). I realized I had gotten to the point where I would pay to sleep by myself in a hotel room – what a dream! – so I was also willing to pay for diapers.
Make Laura’s naps a priority most of the time. At three months old Laura still doesn’t have a super predictable schedule, but some vague patterns are developing. I’ve been trying to watch her cues better so that she can be laid down and get a nap when she needs one. Fortunately she sleeps great in our stroller and she usually takes at least one nap in it a day while we are out. This has made bedtimes smoother because she’s not overtired and she generally sleeps better all night long too.
Believe the scriptures and trust God. I have a whole store of memorized scriptures that get me going in the morning and keep me going through the day. A few favorites:
- “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” Doctrine and Covenants 123:17
- “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great..” Doctrine and Covenants 64:33.
- “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 1 Timothy 1:7
- “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10
- “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
- The story of the Lord blessing the children of Israel with manna each day in Exodus 16. They had to trust every single day that God would give them food for that day. I’m trusting that God will give me the energy and ability to take care of my family and responsibilities for this day. I try really hard not to worry about how I’ll be able to have enough sleep for tomorrow.