BurlingtonVT Moms Blog is partnering with Phoenix Physical Therapy to bring you our latest series titled “50 Shades of Sleep”, about…you guessed it….sleep. Like an elusive treasure, we find ourselves obsessing about sleep not only for ourselves but for our children as well. Although we may not consciously recognize it we are constantly making decisions surrounding the subject of sleep. Is it OK to co-sleep? Can babies really be trained to sleep? What are night terrors? When do you move your child from your bed to the bassinet or to his own crib or into his own bed? Does the thought of SIDS scare everyone? Is it normal for kids to wet the bed and up to what age? And does it all change when they get older? Our goal through this series is to invite you into an open conversation about all things sleep, and to acknowledge that no matter your struggles or choices, you are never alone.
Recently someone asked me if I get enough sleep? (Not sure if this person realized how ridiculous this question is considering I am mom to a nearly 4 year old) Prior to being a mom, I loved to “sleep in” and sleep in general. I needed and usually demanded my 8+ hours of sleep every night, even if it meant that I was going to bed before 9:00 pm. Well needless to say all that changed when our little one came home!
When we first brought our daughter home at 3 weeks old, we were genuinely shocked at how quickly she adapted to sleeping in her room and in her crib. We put a small refrigerator in her room to minimize middle of night disruptions and we were amazed at how well this worked. For the first year, she slept great having one quick bottle in the middle of the night and went right back to sleep.
This did not last as my daughter is the most reliably inconsistent person I know. A few months after she turned one, her sleep habits started to change. She began using delay tactics: another bottle, more books, needing to use the potty, another snack, nightmares before she even fell asleep, etc. Soon after that, she started waking up in the middle of the night wanting to come into bed with us, true to her inconsistent form, sometimes she would get into our bed and go right to sleep, other times, she would stay up for hours and hours, talking, singing, playing, etc.
In the nearly 4 years of being parents, my husband and I have tried many different sleep training tactics. We have tried letting her cry it out, co-sleeping, letting her choose what time she goes to sleep, quiet time before bed, yoga before bed, bed time chart, little surprises if she slept through the night and so on. Some tactics worked for us for a little while, but she would either start a new sleep pattern or revert to an old habit and some tactics just did not work. There has also been stretches of time when she has been an amazing sleeper with no delay tactics or interruptions.
To keep my sanity I try to do the following:
Sticking to a bedtime routine. Potty, bath, teeth, books and lights out
Have quiet/rest time on the days that she does not want to nap
I try to stay calm and not get frustrated and upset when either her delay tactics or middle of the night requests get out out of hand
Make every effort to try to nap with her once or twice a week. I feel like the naps help both of us catch up on rest
It took some time but I am now at peace with the fact that my child has inconsistent sleep patterns and that it will be a long time until I feel really rested again.