A picture our our sleepout shout megan with her son

Sleepout Shoutout Megan

This week's Sleepout Shoutout is Megan!

Every sleep story is different and what works for you may not work for others, so these tips may not directly apply to your situation but they could shake the tree and allow you to explore new ideas that will! In the end, find what works for you and discard the rest.

Megan lives in Central Ontario and is Librarian at a Public Library. She is the Manager of Programming and Outreach for the library system. In her spare time, she loves to read, take walks outside, knit and cross-stitch. Some of her hobbies include home renovations and dancing. 

Without further ado, let’s hear about Megan’s experience from her perspective.


What Has Your Relationship With Sleep Been Like?

From my memory, I have always been a decent sleeper. On the other hand, my mother might have to tell a different story about my first few years! 

I value sleep VERY highly and was worried about the impact having a child would have on my sleep. I am not generally the nicest when I’m sleep-deprived, so I made sure I’d done some research before my baby’s birth.


“While I was in the final trimester of my pregnancy, I found sleeping the whole night difficult at times”

 

Those issues were mostly thanks to heartburn and a baby kicking a lot at 4 am! Otherwise, I haven’t had any struggles with sleep.


What Do You Think Is the Biggest Misconception About Sleep?

I divide this category into misconceptions about adult and baby/child sleep. 

 

“For adults, I would say it's that sleep is a reward for effort”

 

What I mean when I say that is that sleep is a biological need and, as such, should be given a very high priority. Sleep is not a reward for effort, that is not the case at all!


“For babies, sleep will happen and not to stress about it”

 

Some kids are amazing sleepers and some will need lots of help. Then, just like life, there are going to be kids that will fall in between these two categories. Sleep for children is a very individualized experience and consequently, this leads to many opinions about children’s sleep online as with most things on the internet!


What Has Been The Most Difficult Sleep Issue For Your Baby?

My little one hasn’t had too many difficulties with sleep, thankfully, but the biggest issue for me, as a mom, is navigating the realities of what he needed versus what I have needed. What I mean by that is that I expected that he would nap during the day for several hours at a time and during those naps, I would get a chance to rest, have a break or even do things that I wanted to accomplish during the day!


“I thought there was something wrong”

The reality was that once he got out of the newborn stage, he napped for no more than 45 minutes at a time. This was NOT the multiple-hour nap that I was expecting and this led me to think that something was wrong. 


What Did You Do To Try And Solve This Problem?

I became incredibly focused on trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. My thought process was that he couldn’t only need 45 minutes of sleep every few hours! 

 

“I tracked his sleep down to the minute”

 

I scoured the internet for resources, followed sleep consultants on social media, read books, and tracked his sleep down to the minute. I made sure his room was super dark, nicely cool and quiet with trembling white noise. 

I followed his wake windows, trying to stay within the averages but I was also wondering if my baby was broken because he wasn’t napping the way I expected him to nap. I worked myself into quite the state about sleep every week or two, and in-between I tried hard to just accept where we were. Over this period I got very good at eating quickly as well as trying to complete as much as I could during those 45-minute naps. 

Much like a professional athlete, I got superstitious and often would NOT sit down during a nap because it felt like the exact minute that I sat down, my baby would wake up! My spouse thought this was a little much, but it was where I was at.


“I constantly talked about sleep”

 

Not only did I constantly talk about sleep but I also constantly thought about it! It honestly ruled many of my waking hours! Just as I was starting to feel that I could be a bit more flexible such as rolling with car naps and getting out of the house for activities, the pandemic shut us all down!

This made me have to think about my little one and sleep. Which was not great, looking back at it.

The reality was that my little one was happy with only 45 minutes of sleep at naptime. Trying to stretch his nap by nursing him or going in to rock him did NOT work more than a couple of times because he just didn’t need more sleep during the daytime.


“He was doing what worked for him and I was trying to make him into the baby I thought I would get...”

 

I did this so I could have a break. Let’s be honest, all parents need breaks!


If You Had To Relieve The Same Situation But Had The Knowledge That You Have Now. What Would You Do Differently?

If I were able to go back and tell my past self the things I know now about baby sleep I ABSOLUTELY would. I would also hug her and tell her it’s okay to need a break. That it didn’t make her wrong to feel so tied up about naps and that it was a sign that she needed to make sure she was taking breaks elsewhere.


“I would tell her to sit down. Even if only for one nap a day. To … just … sit” 

 

I would make her set up concrete times where she wasn’t on duty and stick to them. 

For my little one, I’d just focus on him. I would pay attention to how happy he was every time he woke up and how much he was learning and growing. I would pay attention to the times that he was struggling with sleep and make tweaks to his schedule with an open mind, instead of from a place of panic. 


“I would know that as long as he was generally happy and well that I was doing the right thing no matter if it differed from my expectations” 

 

I would NOT waste money on trying to get his room pitch black with blinds. Instead, I would go straight to our current system of cardboard taped into the window frame, with small towels to cover any gaps and a “blackout” curtain with actual blackout lining fabric sewn to it hanging in front of the cardboard.

It may not be pretty, but it works.


What Advice Would You Give Parents Going Through The Situation You Described Earlier?

It’s incredibly difficult to be a parent! You are confronted by things you can’t predict or control a lot. We are used to being able to google everything! This makes us heavily reliant on finding answers and solutions, which I don’t intend to vilify.

I certainly found nuggets of information about baby sleep in books and online that was helpful to me through this journey. 


“In my opinion, what is most important to remember is that you are the expert of your child”.

 

Even though you are learning alongside them, you still know better than anyone when they’re happy and well versus when they’re struggling. You also know what is sustainable for your family. 

There is no end to the information available and the opinions shared online, and it’s your job to assess what you know about your family circumstances and keep or disregard what you find accordingly. 

If you spend almost a year getting quite intensely focused on baby sleep as I did, that does NOT make you wrong or bad either. Sleep is important. Rest is important. Just don’t forget to show yourself grace. You’re still learning, just like your baby is.


“It’s okay to ask for help. Help with sleep, help so you can take a break or help because you’re spending more time thinking about something than maybe is okay for you”


Thank You 

Megan’s story is an amazing one that I am sure a lot of other moms can relate to. Trying to navigate being a parent is one of the hardest challenges in life that nothing can prepare you for! From all of us here at Sleepout, we want to thank Megan for coming onto this platform to tell her story. 

At the end of the day, we want this Sleepout Shoutout to be a platform to feature your stories. Everyone has a sleep story and we want to hear it!


If you want your story to be featured please email us at 

nathan@trysleepout.com 


Who knows? Maybe your story could help someone that needs advice...

Read our previous Sleepout Shoutout Jennifer

 

Don't forget to follow Megan on Instagram @lib.megan16

 

Now We Want To Hear From You!

Did Megan's story resonate with you? If so, in what ways?

Do you see yourself incorporating any of the tips that Megan gave? If so, which ones?

 

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