My first year as a new mom of twins was exhausting. I stared at my baby monitor every second my little ones weren't in my arms. I watched as they fell asleep and made sure I could see them breathing through that miracle device. I love them like I never thought I could love another being, but that lack of sleep sometimes makes me feel like I'm living in someone else's body. We sleep trained our twins at 5 months, and considering that there were two little ones to train, it was a relatively easy process. With the occasional twin waking around 3:00 am, I had finally reached the home stretch where sleep was looking to be a part of my life again or so I thought. At 6 ½ months, I felt like I deserved a gold star because my girls were getting through 10 hours of sleep at night with 2 solid naps in the day. I had put this whole sleep and eating schedule together like a rock star. I just knew my "pre-baby" nights of sleep were coming soon or so I thought.
Most nights I'm in bed no later than 9:30 p.m. Truth be told, I could probably crawl into bed at 8:00 p.m. because trying to eat dinner is cumbersome. I'm usually so tired after feeding, bathing and getting the girls to sleep that chewing and swallowing food is simply too exhausting most nights. But since I try and find some quality time with my spouse, I rally for our quiet dinner before crawling into bed.
My twins are almost two now and the routine is pretty much the same. After we put them to bed, we stare at the monitor to make sure they're officially asleep and not smothering themselves with the blanky. After dinner, I make my way towards the bedroom each night; one hand has my glass of water and the other, the baby monitor.
After checking the monitor that is literally 8 inches from my head to make sure the girls are good, I finally drift off. I'm dreaming surely and surely I will stay asleep since I'm just wiped out from entertaining the girls all day. So what could possibly wake me up from this much-needed sleep? I'll tell you what wakes me up- thinking of the monitor by my head and the need to keep checking it throughout the night to make sure the girls are still alive. As if I could tell since they are ASLEEP!!! Even when I try and rationalize with myself that the girls are fine, that I don't need to check the monitor, that I will hear them if there's a problem, I wake up at least 4 to 5 times to check that damn monitor.
Let's face it, our parents didn't have baby monitors. They assumed we were ok if they didn't hear us screaming. But for our generation of baby monitors and spy cameras for nannies, we couldn't imagine not being able to see our precious ones every second of their existence. It's kind of crazy actually. I have had girlfriends share with me that they look at their monitors in the day as their LO is napping, just to stare at them. I will admit I have done the same.
So what's the solution? The baby monitor is a great thing, but at some point, we need to learn to walk away from it. Watching your child isn't going to make them fall asleep any faster or make your night of sleep any better. Maybe instead of keeping the monitor 8 inches from your head at night while you try to sleep (which is probably hazardous to your health like having your cell phone nearby) perhaps try and put it across the room. I eventually did that, and I found that when I woke up and wanted to stare at it, I was too lazy to actually get out of bed so I fell back asleep. It's a baby step (ha! baby step) to eventually selling that damn thing on Craig's List. At some point, we all have to realize that the helicopter parenting is ruining our ability to trust our instincts as parents- that instinct that has survived billions of human beings on this planet. And equally as important as that mothering instinct is our human need to have a solid night of sleep.