Monday, June 10, 2013

When all you want is sleep... {Guest Post}

Today I want to introduce you to Lindsay from Two Bobbins Later.  She is a "mother by day; crafter by night" as she puts it.  Lindsay is going to touch upon a topic that I struggle with as a parent.  She has some witty humor to make you laugh, but also gives simple suggestions to help.  If you are a parent who wants to pull out your hair because your child does not stay in their bed at night, this post is for you....

For a while there I thought our transition to the toddler bed was going incredibly well. I would use words like “effortless” and “easy” to describe the process. I would hear horror stories of kids screaming for hours (HOURS!) before finally relenting to a nap and all I could think was thank goodness that’s not my kid!!!

Then there was Wednesday. A two hour nap cut in half and 90 minutes of re-directing my two year old back into her room to finish the nap she clearly needed. And tonight she started to freak out during bed time! Ahhhh!!! Where did my champion sleeper go!? This girl used to dance into bed and just go to sleep. The last two days she’s only had eight hours of sleep at night when she needs 10-11. 

It is SO hard to think clearly and objectively when you’re running on 5 hours of interrupted sleep (our infant isn’t sleeping through the night yet.) It is the most awful feeling hearing your toddler getting out of bed and padding down the hallway toward you at the break of dawn. I find myself chanting, “If I pretend to be asleep she’ll go away, if I pretend to be asleep she’ll go away.” No. She pokes me. She crawls on me. She pulls my eyelids open. 

We’ve read a lot on what we should do. The majority response is to just keep putting them back in bed. Put them back in bed even if it hurts because you need at least three more hours of sleep. Put them back in bed even if the resulting screams wake the baby. Put them back even though it would be easier to turn on the tv, or let them cuddle, or let them eat a bag of pretzels in the corner of the room so you can get 15 more minutes of rest.

Then I came across this article at Aha! Parenting (a site I adore), it gives 15 tips to help get your toddler to bed. I love it because it feels right, I hate it because it doesn’t say “do this tonight and your kid will be perfect and you’ll get all the sleep you need.”

One suggestion it makes is for the parent to stay in the room. This is something that has really been helping us. We tried leaving and putting her back in bed again and again and again. She would do that for hours; I’m not exaggerating. At one point I had my hand on her chest while putting her back in bed and her heart was racing. No one can go to sleep like that! So we either sit in the chair in her room or stand by the door until she falls asleep. We assure her that we’ll be right there and that everything is ok. It’s hard. It sucks. There are about 4,724 things I’d rather be doing, but it works, and it cuts the fight down to minutes instead of hours.  

Another tip is to do a pretend night routine with stuffed animals. Play it out and demonstrate how things are going to go down; model desirable behavior and non-desirable behavior.  Give your toddler an example to follow and let them know the expectations you have of them.

Another tip I’d recommend is be prepared before you put them down. Full sippy cup, fresh diaper, brushed teeth – have every excuse they’ll throw at you checked off your list in advance. Our daughter was so desperate not to go to bed the other night that she begged to be put into time out.

I know it’s hard, people - I am living it right now and the only thing that gets me up at 5am to put her back in bed is the knowledge that if we do it right the first time this phase should only last a couple weeks at most instead of dragging out for months on end. Addressing it right away also prevents residual difficulties like crazy tantrums from an over-tired toddler. (I really don’t need any more of those thankyouverymuch.) So google your closest Starbucks drive-thru and get prepared for some short-term work with long-term benefits.

Please remember to take this all with a grain of salt. Each family is unique, each kid individual. What works for one may not work for another. This is what has been working for us, be open to other avenues and good luck!!! I’m right there with a gallon of coffee, cheering you on! xoxo

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