None of my babies were good with sleep. I battled it out for a year with my first one, and when my second baby arrived and proved even more challenging, I knew what I had to do. Tired and emotional, and barely holding it together with two children to care for, I made the call to sleep school: TAKE ME IN!
How was it? Well, after a 5 day stint, I got home with my baby and… not much had changed in the way of sleep. She instantly reverted back to her night-time protesting and I tried valiantly to practice the techniques I’d learnt during my stay. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. There was no miracle cure for us in the sleep department. BUT. It wasn’t a waste of time, either – not by a long shot. A lot of other, wonderful things happened for me at sleep school, which left me feeling rejuvenated, capable and more confident after that week – and that counted for a lot.
Here are 7 things that I really loved about sleep school:
1. The place was run by people in the know
The sleep school I went to was staffed 24/7 by child and family health nurses, and we had access to a range of other health professionals while we were there – including a masseuse! As soon as I walked into the place, I stopped feeling overwhelmed about what to do with my sleep-resistant baby and became willing to accept all the help and guidance that was going. Instantly, my sleep stress vanished, and I felt lighter for it.
2. They fed me
For a lady who could barely muster the energy to butter a piece of toast, the three nourishing meals they fed me each day was utter luxury. And when I say nourishing, I’m talking about good, wholesome, home-cooked food that actually felt like it was rejuvenating me. Plus, I didn’t step foot into the kitchen there. There is something about being cooked for that makes you feel very nurtured.
3. All the other mums were like me
One of the hardest things about having a non-sleeping baby was trying to hold court with mums whose babies actually enjoyed sleep. But in sleep school, I lived and breathed with other mums going through the exact same thing as me. Together, we swapped stories, shared our feelings, and became close friends by the end of our stay. It felt amazing to know I wasn’t alone.
4. I could learn with support
I found it really hard to try sleep techniques on my own at home. I was too tired, too confused and way too emotional to stay the course with anything and wait for results. It wasn’t like that at sleep school. Supported by the amazing staff there, I got to learn and try new techniques with them watching over me and encouraging me when I felt frustrated. I had no choice but to hang in there.
5. I got some blessed SLEEP
The sleep school I went to knew what we mums needed most: SLEEEEEP. The first night I stayed there, they only woke me up twice to feed my baby in the night, settling her back to sleep every other time she woke. They knew we needed the restorative sleep before we could get started with anything else. This, plus all the early nights and chilled days meant I caught up on all my sleep and then some.
6. The escape from reality
It’s incredibly difficult to get the rest you need when you’ve got children who need you around the clock PLUS have to attend to all those life tasks in the real world. Spending a week in sleep school meant I got a break from all that outside stuff. No more dishes or thinking about the next load of washing, or worrying about to-do lists. I had no responsibilities other than spending time with my baby, which was pure magic.
7. I left more confident
After being fed and nourished, and given the chance to catch up on sleep, I felt like a new woman. But as much as my stay in sleep school was a chance to rest, it also built my resilience and increased my confidence in my parenting skills. Confidence is everything when you’re trying to master sleep techniques with a stubborn and feisty baby. It can help you trust your instincts, push through the resistance and hang in there with the toughest battle of wills.
While we got home from sleep school and pretty much returned to the same habits, I wasn’t the same lady. I felt buoyed and refreshed and my intense focus on getting my baby to sleep through the night had changed completely. I felt strong enough to handle my baby’s sleep habits, whatever she dished out. And somehow, we made it through.