As I take some time to reflect over the weekend, I realize how much time I spend daydreaming about sleep. Where I would sleep, how I would sleep; perhaps I could have a non-threatening, minor illness and sleep in a hospital bed (I know, I’m horrible) what kinds of pillows I’d purchase, how early I can steal away and how many hours I could get in.When Little Man was even littler, hubby and I constantly bribed each other with ridiculous promises to take the morning shift:
‘I’ll give you two hundred dollars if you feed him.”
“No, I’ll give you a massage everyday for the rest of your life. Please. Look at my face, I’m dying!”
Now that Little’s a few months over two, we are all sleeping together full time. As much as I love the warmth of his squishy body next to mine, I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling rested. While we sleep vertically, Little enjoys sleeping horizontally. Sometimes with his head right up to my neck, other times he rolls over onto my head. He also has a preference for kneading his feet into my back.
So, we’ve decided to go back to sleep training him in his own bed. Like all baby-related topics, there are so many differing opinions on the subject of sleeping.
Back when Little slept in his crib, we tried our doctor’s ‘camping-in’ method which basically entailed sleeping next to his crib on a mattress from night to morning for one to weeks. This helps with possible attachment issues little ones are having and makes them feel secure every time they wake up and see mommy/daddy in the middle of the night. There’s no taking them out of their crib when they wake, just a quick reassurance, or pat on the back. For us, after the first week, it was almost like magic. We did his bedtime routine like always, (brush teeth, change into pjs, read a couple books, say good night to everyone we can think of, including all the rooms in the house) put him down with his favorite blankie, patted his back for a few seconds, and that was it. No protests, and slept through the entire night! I couldn’t believe it. It of course depends on the child, each one adjusts in his/her own time, but it still boggles my mind sometimes.
Now that he’s outgrown his crib, things are a little different. He has a hard time staying in his bed unless one of us sleeps next to him. And what with the holidays, and overnight guests repeatedly coming and going, we had him in our bed quite a bit, so his routine was completely thrown off.
I know a lot of my mommy friends look forward to the time they have when the kiddos go to bed. For some people, including myself, it’s almost the only alone time we have, to…sit, stare at the wall, whatever. And if you have a light sleeper, like we do, you can bet your bottom dollar he will shoot right up when you try to sneak away after you’ve laid next to him for over an hour.
After researching a bit, I decided to try a few things. First, I would start with nap time. I figured if we can get napping down, nighttime would be easier. For a week I laid next to him in his room, then the next afternoon announced that he would be sleeping by himself like a big boy. Little and I picked out his favorite stuffed animals and tucked them into bed with him. It took about five to ten times to pick him up from the hallway (no eye contact, no talking, look as boring as possible) and put him back to bed. It actually worked. He fell asleep on his own. After a few afternoons of triumphant naps, I felt confident to use these strategies for nighttime and have him sleep on his own. The first night was a disaster. Screaming, crying. My plan didn’t quite work. Overtime, we all learn the obvious, especially as parents, that things can be so unpredictable. Instead of forcing what I thought would be best, I went with what Little was trying to tell me. He was scared. He wanted mommy. And you know what? Doctors, articles, studies… wizards, will tell you what the most effective method is, but the most effective method is not necessarily the right method for your child. So for now, mommy will hang out with Little at nighttime with his millions of stuffed animals until he feels confident to sleep all by himself. And that’s just how it is….. Ferber can fly a kite.
From the last two plus years of being mommy, I’ve learned and constantly have to remind myself, that really, nothing is permanent. Kids go through many phases. So, what I have to say to you, my sleep-deprived parents is, don’t give up hope, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it gets better, you will welcome some joyous hours of rest back into your life. Be patient, grasshopper.
Baby steps…and sleepy vibes to the Littles,