Hi friends, happy Friday! You’ve made to the end of the week and that glorious sense of relief, particularly if you’re a semi-permanently sleep deprived mama like me. It seems like no matter the age of your child, sleep is always a major issue. Which is why we’re marking the fourth anniversary of our Real Talk, Real Moms series by discussing all things sleep related! I’m confident that across all the mamas, you’re going to find a nugget of genius that relates directly to any sleep struggles your family might be experiencing.
With a four-year-old in the house now, I’ve managed to get past the majority of the sleep regression stage. Most nights we have a solid sleeper that’ll give us 11-12 hours of peace (save a night terror on the occasion. Those are never particularly fun).
A few thoughts on those early years of sleep that I think have given me a pretty good sleeper (and I will not front – I read all the sleep books – so many that they they all blend together now. I’m pretty sure this one was my favorite though). It’s amazing what you can forget in a few sleep deprived years. But here are the key points:
> Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Same nap and bedtimes daily. Kids love and thrive with routine. Do not fear it.
> Sleep begets sleep. It can seem counterintuitive, but the more sleep a baby gets, the more they’ll sleep. So don’t fret those naps and maybe even move the bedtime up earlier.
> Create a super soothing sleep environment. Some people say this is “spoiling” your kids, but any sleep book for adults talks about creating the most sleep inducing environment possible. A blacked out room, cool but not too cold temperatures, a sound machine. Give them the best chance of falling and staying asleep.
> Sleep training is not evil. Just sayin’. (I used this book to do it at six months).
But these days, I have a whole new struggle on my hands. I’ve got a vocal, opinionated, willful preschooler. Swaddling is long gone my friends. While we can get a full night’s rest, it’s the getting to bed part that is proving extremely tough. Our bedtime routine regularly hits 90 minutes. And I swear it’s only your typical stuff – bath, brushing teeth, going potty, getting on pajamas, reading a story (or four), singing a song, a drink of water. Ok it’s a lot. And the rituals are mission critical, at least to the four-year-old. An attempt to drop one element is always met with massive resistance. Or better yet, the need to start the entire process over from the beginning. But things cannot continue this way. Such a long bedtime routine exhausts everyone, devolving into all the behaviors that’ll break us parents down – whining, stalling, hitting, tantrums. And I’m trying to not drink wine during the week anymore!
We try to do all the things the podcasts say. Boundless patience. Make things playful. When they get upset, get calmer. But I just can’t stomach a 8pm bedtime anymore. So while I like to try to come to these posts with something helpful, or a least share a personal perspective with you, this go round I’m in the thick of the struggle friends.
I’ve considered all the obvious solutions but we can’t really start the bedtime process earlier in the evening. There’s the getting home from school and the cooking and eating of the dinner that has to happen first. We’ve resorted to making baths an every other day thing in attempt to take out one element. We’re trying hard to stick to the one book per parent rule.
So this post is bit more of a cry for help than anything else. How do you manage your nighttime routine? Maybe 90 minutes isn’t abnormally long but it certainly feels that way to me. I would love any and all advice you may have.
I’ll certainly be scouring the posts of all our other mamas for every creative idea I can find. You should too!
For the entire Real Talk archive CLICK HERE.