Friday, December 17, 2010

What To Do When Baby Won't Sleep

By the title, you're probably assuming this is a blog entry on how to get your baby to sleep better. Nope! In light of the fact that our entire family is sick right now, sleep has been hard to come by this week. My husband and I have been walking zombies for much of the week, just trying to get through each day. There is nothing worse that having to take care of two sick kids (or in his case, go to work) when you feel like you got hit by a truck. Over and over again.

This is actually a blog entry on what you can do if you baby isn't sleeping- literally. You can be quite productive during this time, believe it or not. Let's face it; if your baby isn't sleeping then neither are you. So...what could you be doing?

If your baby's not sleeping, you could brush up on your French. I remember coming downstairs with my oldest at 2 AM pretty much every night those first few months and watching French in Action. Coincidentally, it was the program that corresponded with the French textbooks I used in college. I felt like I could pick up right where I left off! We bonded by my whispering sweet French nothings in his ear during the wee hours of the morning.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could read a chapter or two of the book that has been sitting on your dresser for months. Or how about that magazine subscription that someone just renewed for you, not realizing you wouldn't have a minute to yourself after the baby was born? Curl up on the couch with your little one and induldge! I remember being very up-to-date on all of the Hollywood gossip for a good three months thanks to Life and Style magazine and some "free" time in the middle of the night.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could go through your old cookbooks (or browse the internet) for a new crock pot recipe. Put the baby in a bouncy seat or swing and have him/her watch you go to town in the kitchen. If you found something for lunch, you could turn the crock pot on and it would be fully cooked by noon. I used to cook meals and freeze them for another night, knowing that some nights my little cherub would be a little more needy around 5 PM, leaving me no time to cook dinner.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could peruse Facebook for all of your fellow moms with infants, pregnant friends, or insomniacs and commiserate that everyone in the world is sleeping except you. I wasn't on Facebook when my oldest was up every night but it would've been a great resource!

If your baby's not sleeping, you could use the time to phone a friend overseas whom you might not otherwise be able to call. I remember chatting with my friend in England while she got ready for work one morning. We weren't able to talk long but it was just enough to catch up briefly and then she was off and running.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could catch up on your email. There is nothing more frustrating than having 546 new messages in your inbox and NO time to sort through them, let alone write anyone back. People will love to hear from you, even if it's 2 AM.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could write out your Christmas cards or thank-you cards from the baby's Christening. In this day and age when everything is electronic, it is always nice to receive a tangible card in the mail. I actually had a "station" on the couch with thank-you cards, stamps, a pen, my address book, and my return address stickers. That way I never had to spend time rummaging through drawers to get everything I needed; it was all right there. Believe me, my oldest gave me lots of time to do my cards. ;)

If your baby's not sleeping, you could work out. No, I don't mean hop on your treadmill and run 10 miles. I mean a little bit of toning here and there. Lifting soup cans while you sit straight up in a kitchen chair can strengthen that little extra jiggle underneath the arms. I'd purchased an ab cruncher from a yard sale years ago that I used to try to tone my stomach muscles after having my first. It worked...then I got pregnant again. At this moment, I still have five pounds to lose from my second pregnancy and it's definitely in my stomach! Time to hit the ab cruncher again...

If your baby's not sleeping, you could scrapbook or fill in your baby book. Such tasks are time-consuming now but think of how excited your son/daughter will be to read all about when they first sat up or learned to walk and see the pictures to go with it. I plan on giving my scrapbooks to my sons when they're old enough to genuinely appreciate them. So maybe 40?

If your baby's not sleeping, you could video him/her cooing, kicking, smiling, swatting at things, and just plain being cute. Remember to narrate his/her age and what milestones have been accomplished lately. Then you can watch the video over and over when your precious baby is older and going through a not-so-precious phase.

There are hundreds of other tasks you could engage in while your baby isn't sleeping but you get the idea. The most important lesson I learned from those early months with my oldest was that time with an infant truly is fleeting; one day you wake up and they're two years old. They no longer want to be snuggled or rocked to sleep. They don't want you to smother them with kisses or play games with their belly fat. Instead, they want to do everything themselves; for better or worse. People aren't kidding when they advise new moms to enjoy every moment because it goes by so quickly. And when your baby is older and sleeping well, you will then have the time to sit at the kitchen table and blog about what to do when a baby isn't sleeping...all the while thanking God that yours is. ;)