Before having children, I was a free spirit. I took on new adventures on a whim and was relatively easygoing. But having children changed me. I had no idea what I was doing in the motherhood department, so I became uptight. To me, it helped my brain when I tried to control certain aspects of my babies' lives. And the one thing that brought me the most stress was whether or not my children were getting adequate sleep. So, I researched the best sleep training books and walked around with a baby monitor in my back pocket. Only, that very object ended up bringing me the most stress.
Until my kids were 5 and 3, I clung onto their baby monitor. At naptime and all throughout the night, I'd check it. Were they sleeping OK? I'd wonder. Sometimes my heart would race in the middle of the night. I later learned that this was anxiety, something brand new to me. If I heard one single peep through that damn baby monitor, I'd reach over and grab it off my dresser. I'd press the button to bring the image to see which child was stirring. From here, my anxiety would pick up, and I'd feel a galloping inside my chest.
Sweat seeped from my forehead, and my heart raced faster. I'd try to fall back to sleep, but sometimes my heart would jump so vigorously, it'd wake me up. Again, I'd reach for the baby monitor to check my kids' bedrooms. I heard every rustle, every whimper, every movement while my husband slept soundly next to me. The worry swirled within me, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. But why did I care so much about how much sleep my children got?
I can't really answer that one. I knew that my kids were irritable without the proper amount of sleep, which would make the day more difficult for me. But I'm not sure that was all. Obsessing about how much sleep they got was something I could control, I guess. Maybe it made me feel like I had control of motherhood. Only, it ended up bringing immense anxiety when I was supposed to be sleeping, too. Then finally, one day, my husband suggested that it was time we got rid of the monitor.
"They're old enough now," my husband said. "I mean, we know they're safe."
"You're right," I said to my own surprise.
I grabbed that baby monitor, unplugged it from the wall, and tucked it away on the top shelf of my son's closet. We haven't reached for it since. Now my nights are full of what I need most — sleep. My eyes remain closed, and I'm no longer grabbing for the monitor or wondering how well my children are sleeping. And my heart doesn't race anymore either. I'm able to sleep thought the night without hearing every sound from my children's rooms (unless I have to pee, of course).
I'm not recommending that you ditch your baby monitor, especially if your kids are still babies. But if for some reason, it brings you anxiety like it did me, it may be time to lower the volume or even place it near your partner's side of the bed. For me, it helped my anxiety tremendously. Now, instead of hearing noises through the baby monitor, the only thing I hear is silence or the occasional snore from my husband. And that noise, thankfully, doesn't bring me anxiety.