In fact, bedtime round here, could be regarded as a major parenting fail…
Before I had children, I swore that any children I had, would go to sleep by themselves and be good sleepers. After all, as a nanny, then pediatric nurse, I knew the hard time that parents who “pandered” to their kids and let the kids rule bedtime, had. I know, slap me, I was pretty insufferable in my own “not had my own children” expertise. But I got my comeuppance in the form of my lovely boy, who because of his ear issues had sleep problems, from early on.
We’ve spent so long trying to get him to a) sleep at night, then b) sleep in his own space, and to be calm and content at night, that the one thing we’ve never done is taught him to go to sleep by himself.
For the longest time, one of us, usually me, would sit with him, or cuddle him to sleep. It worked for us, and him. I know that many sleep experts would shriek “nooooo!” and I have watched enough SuperNanny programmes to know that.
However, with his ear issues, poor sleep, the subsequent SPD diagnosis, it’s been easier for us to just go with the flow at bedtime and sit with him. He takes a long time to wind down and settle, he gets a bit anxious, and frankly, I’ve been too tired to fight this one last battle in our quest for normal sleep. He fights sleep, I get cross, he finally passes out in our bed (whilst I catch up on social media and my Candy Crush habit) and by the time bedtime has ended it’s 8:30/9pm at night. His sister is starting to struggle with the amount of attention her brother gets at bedtime, and generally bedtime is not peaceful or happy and it’s affecting family life. Time for change.
So, we start a new routine. Operation get the boy to settle to sleep by himself. It’s not going to be easy, or quick. We are pretty much starting from scratch.
Gentle bedtime routine, parent focused on one child. Child is calmly put to bed, after reading and cuddles. Parent says goodnight and leaves room. Child goes to sleep happily. Parent doesn’t have to spend up to 1.5 hours per night trying to get child to go to sleep. Parent is calm and happy, child is happy and secure…
This is our aim.
Week one: child goes to sleep in his own bed, with parent sitting with him for reassurance. This is where we are at. It may take longer than a week. I know that. We will get through this first bit, then work on my being able to be in the room but not next to him. Then out of the room. Then to be able to leave him to fall asleep peacefully.
We have white noise, we have a weighted blanket (for sensory issues) we have nice oils in a diffuser, we have big sister on board that we need her to cooperate at bedtime so things are easier for everyone.
Wish us luck…
I could just go cold turkey, and walk away and let him cry. I can’t and I won’t. I didn’t do it when he was a baby, I can’t do it now. We’ve always taken the slow, introduce a new regime, let it take time to work method, so we go with that now. He would get distressed, I would get distressed, it’s not fair on either of us. Besides, he has a healthy pair of lungs and it wouldn’t be fair on the neighbours… ?
Maybe we did make a parenting error, not teaching him to go to sleep alone sooner. I’ve never said I was a perfect parent, I’ve got some things right, some wrong. We did what worked at the time. Now we are adapting and changing for the better for the whole family.
Wish us luck?