Rested Mamas Are Happy Mamas: Overcoming Bad Sleep Habits
When my oldest daughter turned two, she figured out how to climb out of her crib. WORST. THING. EVER. AND the timing for such an event was HORRIBLE. Not only were we living with my parents while we found a place to live (after having moved from Utah to Washington), but I had two-month-old twins, and I didn't have the time to sit and make sure she stayed in her room. Because she wasn't sleeping on her own, and my husband was always working, I NEVER had time for just me. EVER. She was by my side 24/7 - literally.
Can I just say...if your kid hasn't learned how to climb out of their crib, be grateful, and don't rush trading their crib for a big-kid bed. Cribs are amazing. Seriously, your sanity will thank you if you never have to do what I did. I'm a sleep expert, people. So, for me to have children who have issues sleeping... UNHEARD of. ;) Especially because all of my children were, and are, amazing sleepers.
But let me tell you something...if your child ends up creating some kind of bad sleep habit, you're going to have to end it. Because at some point, your child may do this. I mean, sometimes we, as adults, do this (ahem, staying up until 2 a.m. watching our favorite show for months on end, and then not be able to go to sleep at a decent hour when the season is over).
When Bree learned to climb out of her crib...all bets were off. I had to lay in her bed with her until she fell asleep, and then sneak out. Otherwise, she would just follow me out of the room; why stay in bed if mom is gone? If she fell asleep, but then woke up while I was sneaking out, might as well kiss personal-mama-time goodbye.
She was not only awake, but angry that I wasn't there. To make it worse, she'd just walk right down to my room and sleep in my bed instead. You see, my husband worked nights at the time, so there was A LOT of space open in my bed, and she claimed it as hers. Oh, I tried all the ways I could think of to get her to sleep, don't get me wrong.
For instance, I tried telling her she would get a treat if she stayed in bed for a certain amount of time. First, I started with one minute, gave her a treat, went to two minutes, gave her a treat, went to four minutes, gave her a treat, went to eight minutes, gave her a treat, and so on until she fell asleep. That worked for a week...maybe. Ha.
Forget naps. If she did get to sleep for a nap (ya know, after I sat there until she fell asleep), then getting her to bed at night took even LONGER. But I knew she needed a nap- she was way too young to stop napping! But, the time I spent trying to get her to sleep for that nap was ridiculous, and bedtime was even more so, so I just stopped making her take a nap. I was wasting WAY too much time on this. But, I had something going for me.
We were going to move into our OWN house! This bad habit of hers could be kicked with a fresh start! I made the best plan I could. I bought her a little bed and had her pick out her bedding. I bought her a light that looked like a stoplight. When the light was red, it meant she had to stay in bed. When the light turned green, she could get out of bed. Then I bought her some books to read about kids who got out of bed.
And guess what? For the first time in MONTHS, she fell asleep on her own and stayed there until that light turned green. And it was magic.
For the first time in FOREVER, I was finally able to have my own time. I was so excited I didn't even know what to do with the time! I just couldn't believe this had actually worked. I raved about it to anybody who would listen. Seriously, I could not contain my excitement.
Today, she goes to sleep reading her books-usually with books all over herself. And I couldn't be more pleased. But I had to find something that worked for her. Who knows why it worked; maybe she loved the light, or maybe having a smaller bed (versus the large pull-out couch), made her feel more snuggled. Who knows! But I didn't care; she was asleep in her OWN ROOM, in her OWN BED, without me sitting there forever, waiting for her to fall asleep. HALLELUJAH!
So, mamas, if you're just feeling like there's no hope in the world, that your child will never sleep (especially if they figured out how to climb out of the crib), don't give up! Find a solution that works for you. Don't worry if the bad habit has been lingering on for months, because as you can see, we ended it! Good luck mamas! And if I can help you find a solution, I am more than happy to help. Now, go get some sleep!
- Mama Jackie
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your eight hours or do you have a baby who is keeping you up? Let’s remedy that! In the “Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas” series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series, and Jackie will address your specific problem!*