Sometimes I wash dishes at 3 AM.
I do this because sometimes my baby’s won’t sleep and I’m too exhausted, too smart, to fight the minutes hand of the clock as it tick-tocks too quickly into the morning hours that I used to know as the time when I could have the best sleep and possibly a dream about rainbows and lucky charms, espionage, or falling off a cliff.
I get out of bed. I turn on the lights. And we both go downstairs. She stops crying then because this is what she’d prefer, I think. Babies don’t know time, I’m guessing. And sleep is sleep and mama is mama, so it’s all relative.
I sit her down on the kitchen floor, and I wash dishes…at 3 AM in the morning.
I never would have done this as a very new mom. When we moved Nya to her own bed at 10 months, and I had to actively “deal” with night wakings, I would do as the experts all suggested. I would stay engaged in the effort of getting her to sleep. If she stood up in her crib, I put her down. If she cried, I shushed. If she stood up, I put her down. If she cried, I shushed.
It was sleep or suffering to get her to sleep and usually we did the latter…for hours. She would cry and fight and cry and fight until someone gave in.
Now I don’t fight, I wash dishes. I don’t do this often. Sometimes, after she’d fed and changed, I do work to get her to sleep when I know that’s what’s needed. But on the occasions I do, my husband often comes downstairs, disoriented.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
“I’m washing the dishes and cleaning up a bit,” I say back, in a very normal 12 pm in the afternoon kind of tone.
“But it’s 3 AM,” he says.
“I know, but I was awake anyway so I might as well get something done,” I say back.
This answer is usually satisfactory enough for him to join us, watching me wash the dishes or her clap and just be happy to be awake.
And when I’m done, we all go upstairs and sleep, easy. No fight. No settling down time. Just sleep, like it never even happened.
It’s magical. Washing dishes at 3 AM when your baby won’t sleep is magical.
What’s your “magic” when your children won’t go to sleep?