I want to be that mother who can stand up and say I am a strong confident mother and I know what is best for my children. We breastfeed and co sleep, We listen, We include, We eat chocolate and snot smoothies, we trampoline and grow frogs, we sling, we carry and we try and understand and work with our children without resorting to punishments, threats or coercion.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Sleep, What's the deal??

Does self regulation truly exist?  How do you decide what comes under the need to 'self regulate'?

A newborn is 100% self control, they pee, poop, eat, sleep and do everything else when they need to and when they want to.  We don't interfere with that process, we don't stop them from doing what they need to do, we trust that they know what they need, when they need it and we listen.  We respond.  We clean the poop, we wipe the pee, we feed them and we let them sleep whenever and wherever they fall asleep (usually on top of one of us!).  We attempt to respond to their needs lovingly,  effectively,  instantly and efficiently.  The fact that we use EC, breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing (among other things) as tools to help us achieve this is not only in part due it being a biologically imperative [Cosleeping and Biological Imperatives:Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone] but also because it just makes sense and is far easier on the heart body and mind than the alternatives.

With the kind of parenting that we do, sleep training/cry it out [The con of controlled Crying] from an early age was never going to be a choice.  When our babies were babies, they slept when they needed and wanted and we kept them with us until we felt they were ready to be in bed either alone or with someone.  This usually occurred around the age of one. Until then, they would be on the beanbag or the sofa or the mummy or the daddy downstairs asleep until they woke for whatever their reason was.

At some point though this sleeping arrangement was changed by us.  We did not continue to leave the control 100% within the remit of our offspring. I know many of us have tried this approach and have felt it not work (myself included), but yet there are some who have managed it[Sleeping for Unschoolers] , so it *is* possible.   I so wanted to be a family who made it possible. What happened?

As far as I can work out, several things happened as our children got older:-

  1. They began to need to wake for milk less frequently so did not need to be near me
  2. They began to need to wake for eliminating less frequently so did not need to be near us

    These two alone would not be reason enough to change (break) their self regulatory streak
  1. They began to stay awake longer and need to sleep less frequently and did need to be near us
  2. We  began to need a more consistent block of sleep
  3. We began to need some space where our every move and thought was not consumed by their wants and needs

I am trying to work out if this is too simplified or if there are other factors involved. Why the change?  We let them self-regulate as newborns and for longer, so why not continue it....there are so many issues involved around, could it just because our needs overtook theirs?  Perhaps our way of living interfere with our ability to live a self regulated life, the need to be up at an early time in the day, the need for a consistent block of sleep? Maybe their personality affects their own ability to self regulate? Most of the time lack of tribe is a massive factor?

In actuality (and sadness),  I believe one of the main reasons that we stopped leaving them to self manage their sleep, which they had been doing quite happily and effectively up until then, was because our needs overtook theirs and our personality and temperament blocked their autonomy to self regulate?

Does self regulating sleep work for you?

Meltdowns - one major one after looong day in drizzly wet park
Losing the Plot - too tired
Breastfeeding - must buy pipette bottles

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