Sleep: that commodity so plentiful and easily squandered in your twenties that instantly becomes so hard-won when young children enter the equation. When that young child is a light sleeper it can require fiendish strategic planning to secure each night’s desperately needed rest.
Hard to settle, easy to wake
You may begin to notice the difference when they’re a baby. At cafes you see other people’s babies sleeping soundly through a cacophony of noise and you wonder why your child never does that.
As the months pass you listen to friends talk about what they get done at home while their child sleeps and you wonder how, as your child stirs at a door clicking, toilet flushing or an unguarded cough.
Much of the realisation happens, unhelpfully, in retrospect. Sooner or later there’s sufficient weight of evidence to finally convince yourself that the extreme lengths you go to for a sound night’s sleep are not typical.
Tired but improving
Living with a light-sleeping child is tiring. We’ve come to terms with never getting enough sleep and living a hushed existence after 8pm. We’re fine with that as our daughter is brilliant and we love her to bits. It’s just that we’re permanently shattered.
On the plus side, things used to be worse. When Tilly was one if she heard the slightest sound that indicated you were leaving her room after being put to bed, she’d flip over and start screaming. Living in an older house with creaky floorboards and clunky door handles this was pretty much impossible to avoid. I’m so very glad those days are behind us.
The master plan
We’ve learnt through months of trial and error to work around Tilly’s light sleeping as best we can. On goes her white noise and off goes anything likely to disturb.
It may read like something from 1984 but here are our rules of the house in effect from 8pm each evening:
- The dishwasher. Are you crazy? It’s right below Tilly’s room. Run it if you must but absolutely no loading or unloading. Clinking of plates is ruinous.
- The bathroom / cloakroom. All adjacent to Tilly’s room. Pulling the light cord is guaranteed to wake. Mope around in the dark instead.
- Conversing downstairs? Only with the hallway door closed, otherwise zip it!
- Conversing upstairs. Now you’re trying my patience. Whisper. Better still read or sleep!
- Stairs. Several creak. Learn which ones and apply your ninja skills to avoid them.
- Vacuuming. Have you not been listening? Not a chance.
- Want to cross the hall to the study? With the noise that door makes! Walk the long way round through the freezing cold conservatory and be glad of it.
In short we go pretty significantly out of our way to avoid making any noise. It does make life tricky when we have guests though, as it makes us feel like overzealous librarians, hushing the most modest of noises. When you’re only ever just about getting the minimum amount of sleep you need to function, it becomes pretty important.
Sound minimised, our current obsession is with Tilly’s bedding as something about it is caused lots of restlessness. Not only do we have a light sleeper, she seems to have taken lessons from princess and the pea.
Still, with just about enough sleep we have some wonderful days together.
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