Time for bed – part two.

Ten weeks ago I posted ‘Time for bed‘. I have just re-read it and cried. It was the post that made my friends text me to check I was ok. It was the post that made me realise just how badly Charlotte’s lack of sleep was affecting my whole life. It was the post (and the discussions afterward) that made me follow a few sleep consultants on Facebook.

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It was also the post I shared with Jennie Harrison when one of her Facebook updates sounded like she had been in the room with me that evening whilst I was trying to get Charlotte to sleep. She said she could help me and after reading her website I already felt a little sense of relief…someone had been through this stuff as well. Is wasn’t just me. Others had issues with getting their child to sleep too. Jennie pointed me in the direction of her Ultimate Toddler Sleep Programme and it sounded like exactly what Charlotte and I needed.

I had no idea what to expect with our first module ‘Calm Mum, Calm Toddler’ but from then on it all started to slot into place. I was definitely not calm when dealing with bedtime then and, although it seemed impossible I started to get there. I took some time for myself – whether I thought I had any available or not. I started doing my yoga again. I started to look at how my life was organised (or wasn’t!) and I started to change little things. Only little things to me or anyone else but those little things had a massive impact on how I could then cope with bedtime and life in general.

The Ultimate Toddler Sleep Programme has helped Charlotte go from not sleeping until 10.30-11pm most nights with a battle every single night, to generally being asleep by 7.30pm having completed a mutually calm bedtime. She used to wake when I went to bed if not before, and want to stay up and she would usually wake again at least once through the night for water or similar. Now, using techniques Jennie has taught us she usually sleeps through. She used to scream if I even suggested sleeping in her own bed, she now tells me that she is going to sleep in her bed and I am going to sleep in mine. Sometimes she stays there, sometimes she doesn’t but it’s a work in progress and I know we will get there. Hopefully the new Frozen duvet cover will I give her a bit more of an incentive!

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Throughout our time on the programme there has been no crying it out, no instructions on how you must do things but there has been an overwhelming amount of support available. We have had few late nights and a few nights that have gone awry but, because I know why it’s happened, I can keep calm and counteract that reason as soon as possible and get back on track. We have also worked on her nap transition (from one to none – eeek!) and how she copes with nursery. All of the above means I have a happier, more lovely daughter who is just gushing with affection and I feel the same way. I am still working full time and Charlotte is still at nursery full time but rather than me dreading picking her up because of the mood she’ll be in, we both enjoy our time together much more and there is so much less shouting.

I would say I’m an optimistic person but I think over time I’d lost some of my positivity. Something I used to pride myself on. Working with Jennie and having an amazing group of ladies in the Facebook group for the programme has given me that back. So many great things have happened since I started my eight week programme, it can’t all be a coincidence. Yes I think I deserved some good things to happen, but maybe I was the one who was blocking it, or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

One of the things all the amazing mums in the group have said was that we wish we knew about Jennie sooner. We’d all been battling sleep deprivation for years not just months. Which is why I was so excited to hear that Jennie is just starting a new Blissful Baby Sleep programme. I think I know what I’ll be getting for any of my friends who are pregnant!!

Jennie has a Sleep Deprived Mums Club which I have signed up to, so I don’t feel too bereft after finishing the programme. Here you can get access to so many of the amazing resources I have had. She is also hosting a FREE sleep class next week so sign up now! You won’t regret it.

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Beautiful sleep.

Despite my grumblings over the dreaded Valentines Day I actually had a great week last week. I even got my M&S meal deal! (Well no one said you had to eat it with a boy did they?)

This week I have had a burst of energy and motivation. I have sorted out a meal plan and shopped for all the ingredients so no excuses. I have cleared another bit of my flat. I have started up my yoga again and found a great 30 day challenge on YouTube which is 30 minutes a day – just about do-able. I have done oodles of ironing. I have been on a successful date. I have found a job I want to apply for and actually have a chance of getting. I have had a catch up with two friends which were well and truly overdue and I even got to spend a childfree afternoon with my BFF wandering around Cheltenham. I even managed to have a successful clothes shopping trip whilst spending only £3 of my own money (thank goodness for vouchers!)

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I think I have The Ultimate Toddler Sleep Programme and Jennie Harrison to thank for some of this as I officially started the programme last week. The title of the first module was ‘Calm mum, Calm toddler’ and our daily homework was to take 20 minutes to do something for ourselves. Now that is the kind of homework I like!!br/>
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I failed miserably for the first two nights as Charlotte was determined to make it as difficult as possible to get her to sleep but day three was miraculous… After listening to the MP3 and watching the video Jennie sent us explaining why it was so important that we, ourselves, are calm whilst putting our little ones to bed I took a few deep breaths before launching into bedtime. I calmly got her ready, keeping my voice low and breathing steady and, although still in my bed, she was fast asleep by 7.30pm. I was amazed! She stayed asleep until 7.30am.

I had an ENTIRE evening to myself and an ENTIRE night of sleep!

The next night was 8pm-8am. Since then we have had a couple of ups and downs but we have seven more weeks to work on this so not expecting instantaneous miracles. Myself and the other mums on the programme also get to celebrate and commiserate with one another as we have our own private Facebook group. Having that support, as well as Jennie’s, has been really great so far and hearing everyone else’s stories also makes you realise that you are most definitely not alone in the sleep struggle.

This week is back to full time work and a new module to work on but two full nights sleep has made the mountain seem much easier to climb. Here’s to less eye-bags and more motivation!!!

If you want to hear more about my daily dramas or see the little valentines present I made myself, please come and like my Facebook page and follow me on twitter!<

Sweet dreams?

IMG_2410.JPGI have realised that the past three years and four months have – pretty much – been dictated by Charlotte’s sleep or lack there of. That seems absolutely crazy doesn’t it? There have been a few reprieves where I thought I’d/we’d cracked it but as soon as my body and mind got used to a full nights sleep something would rock the boat. Sometimes I’ve had no idea what this something was but it has been a intensely frustrating and sleepy time.

It’s amazing how much lack of sleep affects you. (I guess it’s not really considering some countries use it as a form of torture.) I get irritated quickly. I get angry quickly. I panic easily and I just can’t seem to lead a normal life where things get done on time or completed at all. The NHS even states that…

Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy.”

Perfect! It is a horrible state to live in and I think I’ve only recently realised just how sleep deprived I am.

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After my post a couple of weeks ago I’d nearly come to the conclusion that I would have to bring in external help. A counsellor? A sleep consultant? A cranial osteopath? I wasn’t sure what would work and whether there was any chance of me being able to afford it. After some research I realised that there the answer was probably not and I would just have to work on it myself as best I could.

Until…I followed Jennie Harrison – the Sleep Deprived Mum’s Coach Facebook page. Her posts hit home instantly as they were mainly about toddlers and when I clicked through to her website it sounded like she’d been watching my bedtime battles for a good couple of years! She had been through it all and had apparently worked out why toddlers resist sleep and how to counteract the reasons for them doing so whilst also managing to help calm mum down too. After messaging her and finding out a bit more (no crying it out, no ‘sleep training’ per se) I signed up and my eight week programme starts today.

I am looking forward to getting stuck in and to hopefully become a more coherent, patient mummy and person in general as we work on the reasons behind Charlotte’s sleep issues. I just filled in her questionnaire and I think she’s got a big job on her hands with us. I think I ticked all the boxes she gave us!

When did your sleep difficulties start? – From birth – check!
Did you have a difficult birth – check! Have you or do you suffer with PND, stress and anxiety – check!

We shall see how it goes but I am optimistic and willing to try anything. Wish us all luck and I’ll keep you posted!

Round One

IMG_0202.JPGTwo weeks ago I started writing a post about how my positive parenting was going down hill as Charlotte has decided to not go to sleep till 10pm at the latest. But since then, even with sleep deprivation taking its toll, I managed to fill in an application form which involved 7×250 words giving examples of when I could ‘Deliver at Pace’, when I have ‘Collaborated and Partnered’ and all the other hoops you have to jump through to complete the civil service competency application. I managed to complete a 30 minute, 14 question ‘situation’ test whilst Charlotte was wide awake and more interested on playing on her princess games on the iPad than mummy completing a “very important test”. I managed to get these in both on time and even managed to complete the test better than 82% of people who had taken it before. Not bad!

Yesterday I heard I got an interview. I was ecstatic! This is amazing as I have never managed to get this far in the joyful civil service process. Getting through the sift was proving a massive issue for me. This means I can do it and it is a job that would be a promotion in a field I’m interested in and, dare I say…good at? It would be a lot more money which I/we desperately need to stay afloat so why do I also feel a knot in my chest?

…because it would involve relocating.

It is based in Bristol. That is about 90 miles from me or roughly 1.5hours. Not far but definitely not commutable on a daily basis when you add in nursery pick ups and drop offs in anyway.

Whilst applying I justified it by saying lots of my family live down there (true) and it’d be nice to be near them (also true) but as time has gone on I am realising that, although it would mean being closer to my family and my oldest and best friend, it would mean being away from my day to day, ‘on the frontline’ friends. My friends who, over the past couple of years, have kept me going in so many ways. They have been there exactly when and how I have needed them. They have supported me and Charlotte emotionally and physically and I think (and hope) in turn I have supported them through good and bad times. I am not saying I’m the best friend, I forget to reply to text messages, I never invite friends over because my house is always such a mess, I sometimes forget birthdays but I hope, when it comes to the crunch and the hard talks, they know that I am there for them. But if I move to Bristol I won’t be and that leaves a huge lump in my throat.

Yes, I desperately need the money. Yes, sometimes I think a ‘new start’ is exactly what I want to get out of the rut I feel I’m in but…am I bold and brave enough and do I want to leave that massive support system and drive 90 miles away from it? Being a single mum is hard, being a working mum is hard and at the end of the week I live for time with my daughter and time with my friends who empathise, make me laugh hysterically, hug, pour tea (or G&Ts) and cut cake. Although I love my family dearly they can’t or don’t do that.

The interview is Wednesday and so is Charlottes nursery nativity. I hope to be able to do both but if the interview goes well I may be in floods of tears for a different reason when she’s singing away in the manger with her best friend and with her amazing key worker. Could I bring myself to pull her away from somewhere she loves so much and somewhere that helped me through my period of PND by looking after her so well? Who knows…I’m guessing I’ll just have to see what happens. I’ll keep you posted but in the mean time I’ll bear this in mind…

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