Another post about sleeping

Bed 2

Over the past almost 7 years that I have been writing this blog, I think the one thing that has been consistent through all this time, is sleep. Or lack thereof. While I might be able to get my kids into bed at a reasonable hour, keeping the smallest one there, well, it’s not as simple.

I’ve done sleep training, sleep charts, I’ve done co sleeping, I’ve done mattresses on the floor, I’ve done most things. And that’s just with Harper. I have actually blocked out the horror that was Daisy and her sleep. The sitting at the end of her bed each and every fucking night until she fell asleep, the sitting on her floor, the night terrors, dead GOD all of it was so unbelievably nasty. But then? Well, it got better. She got bigger and somewhere along the way, she just started sleeping, and sleeping all night, and then sleeping in a little longer in the morning.

How do things stand for us right now? After sleep training SO MANY TIMES? Well, let’s see. Harper goes to sleep in her bed in approx 3.4 seconds. She wakes sometime from midnight onwards and trots into our bed. Depending on how tired I am, she pops in and I wake later realising there is a 3 year old on me. She gets walked back to bed, twice or three times until I give up sometime after 4am and she stays on my pillow, hogging my bed until morning. It’s bullshit. It makes me cranky. But it is what it is and it won’t be forever.


I read this post a few weeks ago by Fat Mum Slim. About sleep, or again lack thereof. Chantelle has a non sleeper, much like I have had through the years. Although I suspect she has had it a little harder than us. This really struck a chord with me…because well, it’s just SO true. If you have a kid that wakes, no amount of sleep training, or consistency, or fights or anything will change things. You might be able to tweak things somewhat, and create new rules for a short period of time, but I think if you have a bad sleeper, you just do. They wake, they just do.

I worried about Daisy’s sleep because of her being in long-term daycare from an early age while Rob and I went to work. She didn’t like it, she was stressed, we all were and I blamed myself for that. THAT must have been the reason that she didn’t sleep. Maybe it was us? Were we too relaxed, or too hard on them? It MUST have been us, because why would my sisters kid’s sleep, and mine not? HOW? And then we moved down here, and Harps had had a very different life to her sister – being at home with a happier Mum, being in the fresh country air, being relaxed, and happy and rested and in no hurry to do anything. AND YET? Still not sleeping. She wakes. She just wakes in the night. Each and every night. SHE JUST DOES. Sure bad habits and sleep deprivation are never good parts of the equation, but I just think you have a sleeper, or you do not. You have a child that eats, or you do not. You have a child that worries about things, or you do not. A confident, easy-going kid. Or not.

I wish I had figured this out sooner. Imagine the worry I could have saved myself? I don’t think it would have changed things…I just don’t like someone small sharing a bed with me, and I would have persisted with the walking back to bed. Maybe. I know I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself though. I would have accepted things, not compared, not gotten so angry or had so much seething resentment. Maybe. Who really knows? What was, was. What is, is.

If you have a non sleeper, a kid who wakes in the night, every night, please know that I get it. You are not alone. There are millions of people, every single night, going through the same battles, fights, tears. One day though, it will get better. They get to 4 or 5 or 6 and somehow they stop waking. Maybe. Who knows what will happen with Harper? All I do know is that I have to believe it will get better, because what else is there to do?

Got a non sleeper?
You know what? You are doing the bloody hard yards, and I think you are doing a great job!


  1. Bev Williams-Krause says

    Beckie my baby has just turned 21. 20 years 10 months ago when I brought Beckie home form the Intensive care unit that had saved her life {born at 28 weeks weighing under a kilo} I believed she would sleep through the night, every night. Four years later she was still waking two, three or four times a night, and of course sneaking in to bed with us. I felt like I had failed, big time. Looking back now I forgive myself for those feelings of helplessness, the worry that I was a bad parent, that constant feeling of why me. Because one day it just got better. There is no magical cure, be kind to yourself. From what I read on your blog you are a wonderful example of just what a parent should be…What lucky girls you have 🙂

  2. I have 3 bad sleepers….. No third time lucky for me.
    My 4.5yr old now sleeps well. My 2.5yr old sleeps poorly – and when she wakes, and comes into our bed – she doesn’t just nestle in and snooze, she cries, whinges, kicks, tosses, turns and pulls & plays with my long hair.
    The earlier than 6am starts hurt. Have you tried a Gro Clock? I am thinking about it for the 4.5yr old. So he knows when it is ‘morning’?

    • Gibbergunyah says

      Love our Gro Glock for our 2.75 year old. It’s gold. He’s quiet until the sun comes up, and we use it for his nap as well. But he’s still in a cot, which is a big factor…

      • Thank you for your response. They are expensive – but it seems the only think on the market. My 4.5yr never gets out of bed without asking permission first…My 2.5yr old does what she likes…generally.

        • Rowena Backus says

          The first clock we bought was a “cars” novelty clock where the alarm were quotes from the movie. “You can’t get up until the clock talks” was our mantra. Then when it broke, we just used a normal digital clock and set the radio as alarm. Worked a treat for us. They are now old enough to tell the time, so we let them now whether it’s a sleep in day or not.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      We tried those clocks with Daisy. She basically rolled her eyes at us as if to say “THAT’S the best you’ve got? Pfffft.” But well worth a try!

  3. MotherDownUnder says

    I am still so scarred by Toddler C’s sleeping habits…or lack of sleeping habits. It is one of the main reasons why I am not ready to have baby number two. He didn’t sleep for more than two hours in a row…day or night…for over a year. Even though at about fourteen months things magically got better and he now sleeps through the night most nights, I just cannot face that level of sleep deprivation again. I know I don’t have it in me.
    I am dreading transitioning him to a bed for the same reasons. I don’t want to go through more sleeping battles…I just want to sleep.

    • Gibbergunyah says

      I was scarred by the sleep habits of Mr 2.75 who got better at 14 months too. Luckily Mr 13 months was a surprise, we wouldn’t have been brave enough otherwise. They’re both in cots. And we’re saner.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      It’s a VERY big factor as to why we don’t have a third kid. I just don’t have it in me. Mentally, there is no way I can go back to the start. I just can’t.

      • MotherDownUnder says

        I feel really selfish sometimes thinking that way but I just know there is no way I could do it…I can’t exactly remember what it felt like to be that tired but I know it was awful and to combine that with the demands of another person…I shudder to think what it would do to me and therefore to my family. For now, I choose sleep.

    • I’ve been thinking of you and that post you wrote about sleep a lot lately. Mostly the eighth time pepper wakes me up overnight… that’s when I think about it!

      • MotherDownUnder says

        The three C’s got me through….crying, cuddling Toddler C and trying to convince myself that I would miss these moments, and coffee.

    • Katie Rainbird says

      Same reason mine is going to be four before her sibling arrives! I just wasn’t ready to go back there either. But meh – time has healed some of those wounds and this time around I’m not going to lose my shit (that’s what I’m telling myself anyway!) x

  4. Mum of 3 says

    I absolutely agree with you. It is something that has taken me having 3 children to work out but your children are what they are – they are either sleepers or they are not (fortunately mine were – god knows why but with 3 under 5 I count my blessings and never ever take it for granted). My 3 were all “skinny babies” – they just are. The grief and worry and guilt I had with my first skinny baby was all consuming – every clinic nurse left me feeling like it was my fault that she was not roly poly, and yet along came baby no 2 and no 3 – exactly the same! I finally understand – your children are what they are.

  5. Gibbergunyah says

    My nearly three year old is still in a cot! He was a shocking sleeper and I’m scared he’ll go back to it when I put him in a bed. AND wake his little brother who sleeps in the same room. It’s all good at the moment. How long can they stay in a cot? Until they go to school?

  6. Yes! My son had screaming night terrors EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT for years. I used to get so angry and sad and just fucking TIRED. He would scream out for me over and over and over again and yet kick and hit me away as I tried to help him. I worried that he was having horrific nightmares, that he was being abused at day care or by someone in our family, that he had mental issues, that he was in pain, that I was doing something wrong.
    I used to feel like I was being asked to do my best and most crucial work when my inner resources were at their lowest ebb.
    He hadn’t had one for years and then the other night we were up for over 90 minutes with him. I cried thinking how long we had all endured this and being so relieved that we weren’t in that dark place anymore. It does get better.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Oh! I know all of that. They are without a doubt the very worst part of parenting for me. I will never forget the despair, many a night on the floor, weeping with frustration over night terrors. They are few and far between these days, but dear GOD I can remember them x

  7. Peta Venus says

    i have an 18 year old disabled son who has 4 hours sleep a night and then it is up and away!! Trampolining in the moonlight can sometimes be quite pleasant. I am still alive though a bit more partial to wine than I used to be.

  8. Reannon Hope says

    You are totally right Beth. As hard as it is to accept that your kid is not something ( sleeper/eater/confident ect) there is some peace in it. My first born started off being the best eater but by 2 was the worst. After years & years & years of trying to “fix” him & seeing every specialist/professional out there I have learnt to accept he’ll probably never eat more than the handful of foods he likes. He’s 13 now & somedays I want to cry & scream when I see him eat another fucking bowl of weetbix but it is what it is….

  9. I got a non-sleeper at the moment, yeah. But I’m pretty sure that will change. I hope.
    I meant it so much when I told Chantelle that Lacey was an anomaly, I totally believe that. Some kids are just shit sleepers. I thought the same thing when I read that post of yours way back when about how horrifically awful it was to battle it every night and that it had nearly broken you down. It’s nothing you’ve done or haven’t done, it just is. And it sucks balls.

  10. Lisa Mckenzie says

    My kids are grown up my son is 24 and my daughter 22 and my son was the angel sleeper I thought I had the parenting gig going really well,James always slept through the night and woke early in the morning,but that is what babies do right! Well along comes baby no 2 a baby girl and my god she was awful she wanted to be carried around 24/7 and fed every 2 minutes and she didn’t sleep very well ,yes if I fed her to sleep but noth otherwise.She grew older and slept worse suffered night terrors ,she was put on medication and still didn’t sleep through the night ,I lay on her floor till she went to sleep ,I sat on the end of her bed I tried everything and you know what as long as you get an ok nights sleep it doesn’t matter ,I learnt that the hard way.I agree with you if they sleep they do and if they don’t just go with the flow until they do,it makes life so much easier and being angry with them solves nothing,just do what you are doing and one day she will sleep and not want to get out of bed ,you will have to drag her out.

  11. We have a sleeper. A 12 hours straight, sleeper. Plus a 2 hour daytime nap, sleeper. Which is precisely the reason why she will be our ONLY sleeper!!!! Can’t imagine what you and all the other non-sleeper mums deal with – big props to y’all!!!!

  12. All I can say is: you know I know. Three strikes here!

  13. stuffbyrenée says

    We have a 4yr old that has slept through since he was 2 weeks old and a 2.5 yr old that has never slept through. She’s a snuggler and is always wanting a “tuddle” but above all she is a master of getting into our bed without being detected (or I am just so bloody tired I simply don’t feel that little wiggle). We do that walk back to bed 4, 5, 6 11 times a night also. I am a believer/hoper/dreamer also…that one day this phase will be something to giggle about!

  14. Sarah - Style Unearthed says

    Yep I’ve been there. My son was a terrible sleeper – strictly 40 min naps unless he was on me, and waking through the night constantly. He has a cow’s milk allergy and I think he just got so used to waking up in pain that it became habit. My daughter was great until reflux struck, and now she’s teething (again). I can’t wait until I can sleep a full night interrupted, but I love them to bits and secretly love those night time cuddles.

  15. scissorspaperrock says

    Soooo needed to read this one Beth.

    Ella {is now 5} – just started sleeping on her own, all night last year…..only took 4 friggen years of NO SLEEP and trying everything to get there! Then I fell pregnant with Ryder and everyone told me “he’ll be a good sleeper! You won’t get jinxed with two bad sleepers surely!” Well……he’s worse! He’s now 18months old and I still sit with him every.single.freakin nap and bedtime until he fall asleeps. And then he’s awake several times in the evening…before I’ve even got to bed. And then it’s musical beds and resettling sessions ALL.NIGHT! Ugh! Thank god he’s so stinkin’ cute! But yes, I keep reminding myself about how bad Ella was….and now how easy she is. That keeps me going.

    Like all shitty things – this too shall pass!!

    A big cheers to the Mama’s out there severely lacking in sleep, but still getting on with it!

    Claire x

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Oh Claire, that sucks. It will pass, but like a bout of gastro, it still sucks when you are in the midst of it x

  16. Sarah Derrig says

    Sadie is 5, she’s pretty much slept with us since she was 18 months old. I did EVERYTHING to get her to stay in her own bed and it just didn’t work! She says she’s too scared to sleep in her own bed and there are so many tears and fights that now I’ve just given up. She now falls asleep in my bed (even if my Husband and I are downstairs having ‘us’ time). Once she is well and truly asleep we transfer her to her own bed and then every single night without fail she’ll wake up at some ungodly hour and come in with us. I’m so tired that I don’t even bother taking her back to her bed, I just let her sleep in between us and I deal with my bad neck/back the next day! I’m hoping because she’s now 5 that this will soon stop and one day miraculously she will just stay in her bed the whole night. She’s a great sleeper and she’s fantastic at sleeping in on weekends….just in our bed! I think for me I have a lot of guilt. We’ve only been able to have 1 child and she is desperate for a sibling that we cannot give her so I feel guilty and let her sleep with us. I live in Doha and a year ago there was a dreadful fire at a shopping mall where 13 children lost their lives, I let her sleep with me because I was scared something would happen to her. I think all Mums have problems whether it be sleep, toilet training, eating vegetables etc and we just have to learn not to put pressure on ourselves. What works for one family might not work for another but we have to be supportive and not judgmental in mummy world!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Good luck…I’m sure she will figure it out one day. Don’t be so hard on yourself…you are doing a great job! YOU ARE x

  17. Katie Rainbird says

    I “did” a routine with my bub at 14 weeks old, it lasted two horrific days of feeling guilty as shit for not listening to my instincts and I ditched it. Ever since then I’ve willingly and (mostly) happily just moved with the changing goal posts as she either needs me or doesn’t. At present, she’s 3.5 and needs to me get to sleep, but it’s not a drama. It’s quick and easy and if she wakes at some dark and comatose time of the night, I just fall into bed next to her and stay there ’til morning. Whatevs. It’s not forever, as you know and one day I’ll look back and miss these times when I’m such a huge feature in her life. Thanks for the cool attitude share, I love it! X

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I love that….moving the goal posts. That’s what parenting is isn;’t it? Thanks Katie x

  18. Fuck.

    This scares me. Because I’m weeks away from birthing my second babe, & I just … don’t think we could possibly have a kid who sleeps worse than Max. And y’know what women tell me? They say, oh this one’ll be a sleeper. You’ve done your non sleeping yards. This one’ll just sleep.

    And then I read this. And my stomach sinks. And my heart palpitates. And I just think … ok, so … I’m probably not going to sleep for another 5’ish years. And that’s ok. Because if our marriage can trump that, it can trump ANYTHING.

    But I GET the anger + the resentment, believe me.

    My MIL asked last week how I manage to keep Max’s bedroom so clean? … HOW?! He doesn’t Mother flippin’ sleep in it, AT ALL. Instead, he sleeps with us, every night, & I keep getting bigger throughout this pregnancy, week by week, & now? … well, I’m managing to fit my entire preggo body on to that whole ONE centimetre of piping at the side of my mattress there.

    And … I think, where the HELL is a newborn going to fit?!

    Thanks for this post. Me & my dark circled eyes needed it.

    Cherie (raising master Max) x

  19. Charlotte Smith says

    I have a night sleeper, but a daytime catnapper (6 months old). The days are such a struggle. Plus I keep assuming he’ll obviously become rubbish at night to. I live with this somewhat crushing anxiety about sleep. I hate it!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I SO get that night anxiety. Somewhere along the way, it maybe took a few years, but I stopped getting scared of the night. And then even by the nights where I was by myself. You’ll get there…promise xx

  20. Ahhh, I needed to read this this morning. My 7 month old (my first baby) is a horrendous sleeper (has to be rocked or breastfed to sleep, can’t make it past the 40 minute sleep cycle for naps and wakes up at least every 2 hours all night, until 3.30am when no matter what I do I can’t get her back in the cot and end up bringing her to bed with us). It’s so hard to believe that you’re not doing something wrong when everyone else’s baby seems to be able to sleep anywhere, can put themselves to sleep and have been sleeping through since 2 weeks old (all of the other 9 women in my mothers’ group). When I’m feeling okay, which is rare because of the sleep deprivation, I can be positive and tell myself that this is just the way she is and that if I just get through this hard bit she’ll grow out of it, but when I’m a sobbing mess at 4am after being woken up 10 times it’s hard not to blame myself. We’re off to Tresillian in a few weeks and I’m praying for a miracle!

  21. End. Of. My. Rope. So revisiting. Bless you, Beth Macdonald x


  1. […] this blog for any length of time you would know my struggle with Harper and sleep. I have written this post or this one or this one just to name a few that came up when I searched Harper sleep on my blog. […]

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