A review of the best baby sleep book you’ll ever read
“I know you’re not thirsty. That’s bull—-. Stop lying. Lie the f**k down, my darling, and sleep.” ― Adam Mansbach
Before my daughter was born, I was no stranger to sleepless nights. I suffered from horrendous insomnia for years. My coping mechanism was to prep and cook food at silly hours in the morning, figuring that if I was up, I might as well do something useful with that time. There was one time I cooked so many meals that I ran out of freezer space. I found myself in floods of tears at 2am because I didn’t know what I’d do next time insomnia hit.
With all this experience, you’d think I’d have been great at dealing with the middle-of-the-night wakeup calls after my daughter was born, but nope. If anything, it was even more exhausting because I couldn’t just fall back on my regular coping strategies. I had to put my daughter’s needs first.
So when I discovered Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, I bought a load of copies. One for myself and then more for my friends. Finally, here was someone who was saying all those things we were all thinking! I found it incredibly reassuring to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling frustrated when my daughter refused to settle down. Parenting can be incredibly isolating and it’s easy to think that you’re the first person whose child gets up every five minutes. While I love those early years where your baby just wants to snuggle up in your arms for an adorable cuddle, there’s also many, many hours of your child screaming in your face while they fight the very notion of closing their eyes and getting some rest.
If you haven’t read this book, if the title wasn’t enough to warn you, this isn’t a book for children. It’s very much one for mummy and daddy to read with a large glass of wine once you’ve managed to get your little ones to go to sleep. You can even get it in audiobook form read by none other than Samuel L Jackson. How’s that for the perfect adult bedtime story?
Written in the rhyming style of a traditional children’s book, complete with cute illustrations, Go the F**k to Sleep follows the frustrations of a parent desperately trying to get their child to stay in bed and get a good night’s rest. It takes you through all the typical distraction techniques a toddler uses to delay the inevitable when they have to close their eyes and, well, go the f**k to sleep!
It’s a breath of fresh air which injects some much-needed humour into what is actually a very serious subject. Sleep is essential for health. It allows your body and mind to recharge after a long day of caring for children. It helps your body fight off disease. Your brain needs sleep in order to function. When you haven’t had enough sleep, it can be difficult to even string a sentence together. As a parent, if you haven’t had enough sleep, it is harder to cope with the challenges of bringing up children. You find yourself losing your temper more quickly, snapping at your children instead of calmly dealing with them when they push boundaries or have an accident.
Given how important sleep is, I’m going to get serious for a moment. If you are struggling with establishing a good sleep routine with your child, I’d recommend you read Sarah Ockwell-Smith’s The Gentle Sleep Book. What I love about this is that it shows you so much of what we think we know about baby sleep is wrong. One of the fundamental principles of my Focused Parenting Program is to have realistic expectations of your child. Ockwell-Smith’s information about how long you can expect your child to sleep according to their development is a real eye-opener. Speaking from personal experience, it’s easier to cope with a situation when you know that it’s perfectly normal and just a stage your child needs to go through. It provides strategies to support your child to get good sleep without crying it out or active sleep trainings as well as giving you advice on how to care for yourself during these difficult, sleep deprived times.
The Gentle Sleep Book gives the perfect outline of the ideal way to coach your child’s sleep but no matter how supportive, patient and understanding you are of your child’s sleep patterns, Go the F**k to Sleep is a realistic representation of what all parents go through – yes, even parenting coaches!
While my daughter is a much better sleeper these days, we still have nights where she struggles to settle. While I’m a much better sleeper these days, I still have nights haunted by insomnia. However, these days, if my sleep is disturbed for whatever reason and I want to sooth myself back to sleep, I’m no longer manically food prepping or seeing it as an opportunity to multitask and practice my time management skills. Instead, I’ve banned myself from doing anything which isn’t self-care. I lie in bed doing deep breathing exercises or listening to my favourite meditation recordings – there are some great ones out there which are designed to support you in getting a good night’s rest.
And sometimes I simply tell myself “Go the f**k to sleep…”