COVID-19 is impacting on households in ways we could never have imagined, for better and worse.
As we’re adapting to new routines, our own sleeping patterns as well as our kids’ may have gone haywire, while bedtime and morning routines, have relaxed, or even gone out the window entirely as basically we struggle to remember what day it is.
Cork’s ‘baby whisperer,’ sleep consultant Lucy Wolfe says there are two perspectives to the pandemic sleep situation: “Parents are seeing an opportunity to address their child’s sleep without the challenge of work and daycare. But the flip side is that parents are stressed trying to juggle working from home and their child’s sleep, and currently there seems to be lots of anxiety for the child too.”
Lucy, has just written her second book, which she calls her master copy for sleep from birth to six years of age, and among her top advice to deal with pandemic sleep problems is to ‘pare things back’.
“Try engaging in quality one to one time amidst the entire struggle and try to not allow your older child to be too exposed to the news and concerns that may make them more anxious.
“Aim for longer bedtime routines and regular wake times as these will all help to keep sleep on track during this unusual time and if you are all feeling well this is a great time to begin a sleep improvement exercise.”
Having said that, she said it all comes down to the individual household.
“Later bedtimes and later mornings could possibly present an opportunity to do work before your child or children get up, but if it feels that it’s not working then I would re-calibrate and establish earlier bedtime and regular wake times — we know earlier bedtime result in better outcomes for sleep together with mood and behaviour. And an earlier bedtime will afford parents a chance to either catch up or decompress or a bit of both.”
Lucy, who is also a co-creational parent and relationship mentor and mum of four children ranging in age from 9 to 17, published her first bookthree years ago. Her approach is to encourage parents to view their child’s sleep in two parts: under six months, which she says is about sleep shaping; and six months and beyond, where she talks about sleep learning.
“Despite literally thousands of parents having so much success with the first book, there are always so many questions that parents have when it comes to their children’s sleep as there are so many factors that influence their progress.
“Also, parents that are tired may find it hard to read a full book and so this book is designed to answer those specific questions that arise. It is laid out in an easy format splitting sleep into the segments that I feel need most attention.
“The information is easy to understand, digested in smaller amounts but just as effective for a family looking to improve their child’s sleep in age appropriate and sensitive way,” she explains.
“This book is really about specifics, the challenges that seem to be most relevant, and as a result there is a full chapter on Early Rising to help parents understand, be informed and empowered to make changes to fine tune and improve their child’s sleep so that their child is optimally rested, and so are they.
“I also dedicated a full chapter to age four to six months as many challenges here need greater understanding, and parents also benefit from reassurance that how their child sleeps is not a representation of something they are doing wrong, but very often what they report is typical infant sleep.”
Lucy really stresses that there’s no right or wrong thing to do, or big ‘mistakes’ that parents make.
Instead, she wants to share the message that there’s always lots of opportunity for sleep to be improved on.
“So I help parents to focus on what might work better and that inherently is learning the language for sleep and avoiding overtiredness.
“Then it’s about helping to increase your child’s sleep ability to its highest level in order to unlock their personal sleep best. This takes time, patience and can be frustrating, but also leaning into the struggle and accepting your child where they are at a given time, can be very helpful too.”
From managing the early months, the four-month regression and bedtime resistance, to long wake periods overnight and frequent night-time activity; or if you struggle with early rising, short naps, school runs, nap transitions, and managing more than one child — this book has it all in an easy ‘dip in, dip out’ way.
Or as Lucy says: “The book really aims to help parents feel more confident and empowered and accepting of sleep dynamics rather than always thinking that they are failing.”
All About The Baby Sleep Solution: Your Questions Answered (Gill Books) €16.99 available now from Easons.com.