As a baby, my son was an amazing sleeper.
For the first three weeks.
From that point on, it was battle stations on a daily basis. We failed at routine. Self settling was an excruciating waste of time. It felt like he was always awake.
My lightbulb moment finally came after months of tearing my hair out. Too exhausted to bother anymore, I got him out of his crib and put him down near his toys, explaining that he could play for as long as he wanted, but if he made a sound he’d be straight to bed. He got the message (I was a scary mum that night) and after forty minutes of playing quietly he toddled over to his bedroom door, ready to go down for the night.
That’s when it hit me. Those recommended sleep charts point to the average requirement. And my kid ain’t average. He’s the Energiser Bunny on Red Bull.
Accepting that I have a non-sleeper made things a lot easier. There are actually benefits to this kind of kid (believe it or not).
1. You’re not a slave to nap time.
Lunch at one o’clock? No worries! BBQ at three? We’ll be there. My little one abandoned his regular nap at 18 months old. He’ll still doze off in the car if he has had a busy morning, although it happens less and less nowadays. The awesome upside to this is that we no longer have to break up our day so that he can snooze.
And because there’s no nap to skip, if we have a day that's packed full of activities I don’t have to suffer a cranky child who is running on empty in the evenings.
2. You can party like it’s 1999.
Instead of crashing out in their strollers at 7:00pm, sleep-avoiders are ready to hit the dance floor. You can take them to weddings and dinner parties and stay all the way through to dessert and even later. They don’t get irritated and turn into angry whinge factories, they just keep on keeping on until you have to drag them away from attempting to do the macarena as the clock nears midnight.
WATCH how you can get your baby to sleep in 3 seconds if you're not in to the anti-sleep thing. Post continues after the video...
3. More time together.
I’m a working mother who hands her child over to someone else five days a week. If my son was in bed by 7:00pm we’d have less than two hours together in the evenings. Instead, we have time to eat as a family, splash around in the bath and then go on epic bear hunts around the house before it is time to wind down and get ready for bed.
We even head out on adventures some nights, walking the dog in our pyjamas and discovering what the world is like after dark.
4. Empty playgrounds.
2pm - the glorious time when normal kids are zonked out at home and older children are still in school. The slide, the roundabout and the climbing frame are all yours. There are no queues for a turn on the swings and it’s much easier as a parent to keep track of your child - they and the few other anti-sleepers are the only ones there.
5. Epic sleep-ins.
The thing about sleep is that it always wins in the end. Even Speedy Gonzales has to power down and put some zeds back in the sleep bank sometimes.
Every few weeks the Sandman turns up and finally locates the 'off' switch on my son. He’s been known to stay in bed until 8:45am, paying us back for all those late nights and early starts.
Yes, there are downsides to having a child who resists bedtime. But sometimes going along with it is the best tactic. If they’re not suffering from staying up later than recommended then it’s just you who is feeling the pain of trying to get them into bed night after night. Instead of fighting it, give them some extra time to play quietly or read some books together. You might find bedtime becomes a lot more pleasant for all involved.
What are your tactics for getting your kid to sleep (or not)?