Sleep is one of the most important things in a parent’s life. Before becoming a parent I took sleep for granted. I could go to bed when I wanted, get up when I wanted, sleep in on weekends and have naps whenever I damn well pleased (except during the workday of course.)
As a parent, I no longer take sleep for granted, I treasure it, I fantasize about it, I yearn for it and mostly I really, really miss it! At least the sleeping in part. I miss sleeping in mornings. I can’t wait till my kids are teens and they refuse to get out of bed until noon or later. We all want to sleep more. We all want our children to sleep more. That’s why, in our household, we took on the battle of trying to train our kids to sleep at night without us.
Sleep training is not for the faint of heart. It is a battle of the wills between you and your child. A battle that can reduce you to a quivering pulp of strained nerves. In order to train your children to sleep you will need determination, an iron will, nerves of steel, a timer and a good pair of earphones.
Each night we would go through our bedtime routine, turn off the light, turn on a fan, put our still awake child into his crib with a kiss, and then leave the room closing the door behind us. Then the wailing would begin. Setting the timer for 5 minutes, we would grit our teeth, and start with the evening’s chores of cleaning up, doing laundry, putting toys away and so on. The timer would go off and I would go up to our child’s room, rub his back until the wailing sort of subsided, and then leave. The wailing would begin immediately and we’d continue with our tasks after setting the timer again. Five minutes later my husband would go up to our child’s room, rub his back until the wailing subsided and then leave. The wailing would begin immediately and we’d continue after setting the timer again. Five minutes later it would be my turn. You get the picture right?
The first week this went on for about 3 hours every night. We were ready to give up. Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay in the room and rock him to sleep? Or bring him into our bed for the night? We knew that would work, only neither of us would sleep well with the kicking and tossing and turning and paranoia that we’d roll over on him and crush him in our sleep. We could wimp out and just accept the fact that we’d be sleep deprived for the next five years but at least the battle would be over, or we could grow an extra pair and keep on with the fight.
It took almost 2 weeks before we realized that the duration of our nightly battles had gone down. After another week we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. By the end of the month we had prevailed! We could now put the little guy to bed with a minimum of fuss and only the occasional whimpering after leaving the room.
So to all of you parents out there who are horrified by the fact that we let our kid wail every night for a month, or gave up after a night or two, or aren’t tough enough to train your kids; we get to sleep by ourselves at night, all night, every night. Take that you wimps!