Any mom can tell you that good sleep habits are one of the most sought-after traits they try to instill in their child. I have made many phantom deals with my children in the wee hours of the morning while trying to get them to go to sleep and stay asleep. Matthew could have gotten out of going to Medical School! Ryann could have M&Ms for breakfast for a year!
I have met every extreme. Some parents have children that have been sleeping 12 hours straight at night since four weeks old without a peep (you know who you are, and you know that I hate you). On the other extreme, I know five year olds that don’t settle down until 11 at night and they are still up at the crack of dawn.
For all of you out there struggling with sleep problems with your children, here is what works for us, so I am sure it will work for everyone.
Around 8:00, I take about 20 minutes to feed Matthew a bottle upstairs so he can unwind, and then I put him in bed, wide awake, and he will roll over and go to sleep. During this time there is to be no noise anywhere in the house, so if Ryann so much as burps we add about 5 minutes to the time. Our average time for this is about a half hour.
Sometimes he won’t roll right over. Sometimes he will stand up and cry. At this point I stay at the top of the stairs and try to decipher whether it is a wind-down cry, or an upset cry. When the hair on my neck stands up, I go in and make sure there is nothing keeping him from relaxing. Then I will rock him again for a bit. Then I will repeat my top of the stairs routine.
How do I describe the difference between a “fuss” and a “freak out”? For someone without my highly developed baby cry translator ears, they may both sound the same. This is something that develops over time.
At some point in the night, more than likely, he will wake up again and he needs to be “plugged back in” with his pacifier. I know he should be able to put his own pacifier in his mouth, but if I don’t go in and plug him in, I will be listening to him cry and look for it for a half hour, rather than being back asleep in 3 minutes. Since sleeping is one of my top three favorite things to do, I have a pile of pacifiers on my nightstand that I can have delivered in record time. Sometimes I don’t even have to wake up to do it.
Since Ryann is older, putting her to bed is a lot easier. Mainly because she sleeps in our bed and just goes to bed when we do. We hope to have her out in time to go to college.
Try these routines with your kids and you will be sleeping two hours at a time in no time-as long as you can sleep while hanging halfway off of the bed with a knee in your back and a baby whining through the paper thin bedroom door. Sweet dreams!