It’s 10 pm and I’m starving. My daughter fell asleep at 8 pm. Victory! I thought I could make dinner and feed myself at a decent time, maybe even catch an episode of Game of Thrones.
How naively optimistic of me.
She woke up twice during a two-hour span. Both times took over 45 minutes to get her back to sleep. All the books tell you not to pick them up every time they wake up when sleep training. So that’s what I did.
Let me just say, the books are fucking stupid sometimes.
I still haven’t started dinner. I did finally get her to sleep, thanks to the power of the boob. First, I needed to write down these thoughts swirling around in my sleep-deprived head before stress eating spaghetti and garlic bread.
Usually I write about health and wellness. I enjoy researching topics related to mental health and alternative medicine. I like to keep a positive tone to my writing. I try to use my passion for the written word to inspire others.
But today, for my own personal mental health, I want to delve into the shark-infested waters of single parenting. No sugar coating. And by shark-infested, I mean my daughter bit my nipple today with the one tooth she has and I feel like I officially know what a shark bite feels like. A small shark, but painful nonetheless.
I keep reading about how a baby her age should be sleeping through the night by now. She will be nine months in less than two weeks. According to Babycenter, she should be getting 3 hours of sleep throughout the day during her naps and 12 hours of sleep at night.
Twelve. Fucking. Hours. You’ve got to be kidding me.
I’m lucky if this child gets ten hours of sleep the entire day, naps included. She recently figured out how to crawl. I can tell her brain is going a mile a minute as are her chunky little legs. She doesn’t want to sleep. She wants to explore. I’m the one that wants to sleep. But I can’t. Even when she naps, I can’t shut off the neverending to do list infiltrating my brain.
Trying to stuff all the chores I need to catch up on in one nap time is like trying to fit my post-pregnancy body in a size zero. Hell, even my pre-pregnancy body laughs at the thought. I was never and will never be a size zero, just like I have never and will never actually complete a to do list in its entireity. Every time I begin to come close, five more thing are added to it and I hear the sound of a woke baby crying.
I’ve actually researched if a human can function on consistently getting 3 hours of sleep. Turns out we can’t. It’s bullshit. We’re required to sleep at least a quarter of our life away in order to prevent our brains from turning in mush and making our internal organs begin to shut down.
Parenting is hard enough for two people sharing the load. But how do single parents do this? There is no tag teaming. You are the one that has to coax them to sleep and you are the one that has to get up throughout the night to convince them to stay asleep.
I’m not going to lie to you, I use the boob. Nothing gets her back to sleep faster in the middle of night. Textbook parents reading this are probably already shaking their heads at me.
“They need to learn to soothe themselves.” “You’re creating a bad habit.” “Just go in the room but don’t pick them up.”
Well, I’ve tried that. Many times. It worked once. What usually happens is she wakes herself up even more. Not only is she awake but she’s extra pissed off because I let it go on for so long. Strong-willed just like momma. Tonight I sat in the room with her, determined to let her self soothe. That is until she tried pulling herself up using the crib bars. She slipped and whacked herself in the head.
Of course I’m going to pick her up at this point. I refuse to let her cry it out when she is in physical pain, sue me. One boobful later, I rocked her to sleep and all was right in the world.
Until I have to transfer her to the crib. That is tricky business. I’ve developed serious ninja skills during this transfer but sometimes it just isn’t enough.
I’ve read far too much about sleep training. One important part is teaching them to self soothe. There is a fine line between transferring your baby to the crib too soon or not soon enough. Too soon and they don’t self soothe. Not soon enough and they’re awake, pissed off, and you have to start all over again.
If you’re willing to take that risk, more power to you. I, on the other hand, really want to fucking eat dinner so you bet your ass I’m rocking her to sleep until I know that sucker is down for the count.
Parenting is hard. Single parenting is hard AF. Try as you might to follow the books and pediatrician recommendations, sometimes you just have to cut corners.
Give them the boob. Let them watch Sesame Street while you get some work done. Put them in the pack and play for fifteen minutes while you regain your sanity. Trust me, they will be okay.
Your wellbeing is just as important as theirs. To be a good mother you must be good to yourself, too.
We would love to hear more mommy hacks from you single moms out there that are making it work! Drop a comment below or message us so we can share your story anonymously.