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Kids & Sleep: Things All Parents Should Know

Kids & Sleep: Things All Parents Should Know

I got roughly two hours of sleep last night. Well, actually I got them this morning from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. after I dropped my daughter off at school. This does not exactly put me in ideal shape for work or for parenting. I am accustomed to living life deprived of sleep. Much of that is by choice, because late at night — around 11:00 p.m. — is typically the only time I have for myself. So I watch TV or read, often past midnight. I know I’m not alone. Last night it was a sick child and a snoring husband that kept me up all night. Out of the ordinary circumstances to be sure, but a situation that could have been mitigated to some extent if I prioritized sleep for myself on a regular basis.

But most parents are more obsessed with their children’s sleep, or lack thereof, than their own. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I feel truly fortunate in this regard. Both of my kids need a lot of sleep, and for the most part, they get it. They go to sleep fairly easily and stay asleep pretty well. They are flexible enough that my son can skip a nap (which he has been doing far too often lately for a 2-year-old) without falling to pieces, and my 6-year-old daughter can stay up quite late on special occasions without unmanageable repercussions the following day. It wasn’t always that way. For the first three years of my daughter’s life, putting her to bed was the single most difficult chore of the day and the biggest stress factor in my life. And just when she was getting better, we had a newborn, who, with heart disease, could not be denied middle of the night feedings for his entire first year as long as he asked for them.

These days, my sleep deprivation is something that is more often in my control than not. But for lots of parents, getting the children’s sleep situation under control seems like an unachievable first step toward getting their own sleep under control. I know. I’ve been there, and I’ve seen the other side of the mountain. There is a great article by Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Claire McCarthy, highlighting the things she wishes all parents knew about sleep. I’ve also had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Craig Canapari speak on the topic more than once. He participated in a Bright Horizons webinar on children and sleep and he writes a very awesome blog.

If you’ll excuse, I might just sneak under my desk to grab a couple more minutes of sleep for myself. And I wish you and your children sweet — and uninterrupted — dreams tonight.

kids sleeping on the beach

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