Category Archives: sleep training

What they don’t tell you about parenting- Part 2*

* Part 1 is written here- check it out before you read Part 2

As life goes on and the baby years are behind you,  you actually fool yourself into thinking… this is getting easier, right?  After all, the kid is potty trained.  Well, that’s nice.  Super nice… until your meal arrives at the restaurant and right as it arrives, the potty trained one will undoubtedly need to go.  Half hour later, you will return to the table to cold food, and half your other kids’ food thrown on the floor or across the table.  Yeah- time to eat!  Can we please go out again?   But, in actuality, potty trained kids are nice.  It’s great! No changing yicky diapers. Sure, there will be occasional accident and you will have to change out sheets or throw out an entire mattress, rug, or parts of an outfit,  but it’s still better than changing diapers every 4-5 hours right?  

Here’s another fun discussion- are your kids sleep trained? Funny you should ask that because in my experience, this is where we separate those exhausted parents from those well-rested ones who should be readily shot – those perfect parents who made their kids cry it out or alternatively, those perfect kids who were born to sleep.  Ugh! You will never see a TV show or movie where parents are letting their kids cry it out– wanna know why?  All hollywood babies or commercial babies were just born sleeping.  That’s right- they were born on a schedule and sleep 10-12 hours a night – some even 14!  I have friends and relatives whose kids are great sleepers because the parents stuck to their guns or simply because the kid was born a great sleeper.  I hate these people!  I secretly wish quadruplets on them.  In any case, my kids’ reality and therefore, mine, is that they are not sleep trained and furthermore, horrible sleepers!  They need assistance every night… here is my husband and my reality every day and night – what “they” never told us about parenting or we would have thought twice:

The morning starts with one of them crying or screaming or worse, not waking up at all on time.  The latter is usually the norm because they do not go to sleep at a decent hour.  So, they are exhausted and of course, one of my kids needs less sleep than the other- I blame my husband’s side of the family.  They seem to thrive on little to no sleep- ugh!  I should have married a slouch loser who slept all day and all night.  Ah well – until the next life then.

So, continuing on … my older one throws tantrums if she is not first in everything- first to brush teeth, put clothes on, get shoes on, get jacket on, and the list goes on -down to getting buckled in and taken out of the car.  It’s a nightmare really.  The screaming generally goes all morning (on some days) and the fun just never ends… breakfast is not really all that.  And our kitchen table is still stacked up with dishes and food from the night before.  The dishes are piled up all around the sink because there’s not enough room in the sink itself!  Sippy cups and bottles (yes my 2 year old still drinks from a bottle) are all lined up too and soaking or stinking.  Breakfast consists of cereal we put in bags for them to munch on on the way to school, hard boiled eggs cut in half (one of my kids only likes the yellow and one the white – so odd), and/or frozen waffles that pop out of my toaster.  They dip it into syrup or throw them on the floor.  I eat the remnants of what they do not- that is my breakfast, sometimes off the floor.  After they depart for school with my hubby who carries the load of dropping them off and picking them up (bless him), I finally get a shower… This is our morning. 

My husband, for most days, picks up the kids, and then brings them home.  I come home late because I go in later.  So, I come home, and from that moment on- it’s on!  The little one wants me to hold her and if they are sick, let’s not even get started on that.  I hold and kiss them and read their daily reports and see what they did in school.  Then, we generally have to put together whatever we have in our fridge and/or pantry and hope for the best.  The kids are horrible eaters so we just hope this will be the day they eat what momma or daddy made.  It is always rewarding when they eat my home-cooked meals or my daughter screams, “I love it, I love it, I love it.”  This is a rarity but when it happens, I love it too!  I do not cook often because of the lack of appreciation.  In any case, we will eat something or try to throw something together.  The evening ends with a bath which generally goes okay but sometimes does not.  After this time, that is where our night and day really begins…

The kids struggle to go to sleep because they are not sleep trained.  They want to stay up with us and have fun.  They want to play with each other- because they are so close in age, they are getting to the age where they just want to hang out with each other all the time even if they are fighting and beating the *!$% out of each other- ya know?  They are, after all, kids!   But, when you see a commercial or movie where two kids are playing together, laughing, holding hands, and hugging… keep in mind, that is one moment of reality.  What they don’t show you or tell you is that two seconds later, they really could be rolling on the ground, fighting, or pulling hair, or screaming whilst doing all of the above.  Yeah– fun times!  What my mom says now to me when my kids are screaming or fighting or crying:  You and your brother never cried.  What I remember from my child as fact:  We used to beat each other with sticks.  So, there you have it!  My own mother won’t tell me the truth about parenting, how can I expect Hollywood to portray fact?

Anyway, the sleeping part is so tough.  My older one needs to hold my hair or have me hold her so she can fall asleep and often times, she will lay there for upwards of an hour not falling asleep. Meanwhile, I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet or put my computer away, or done half the things I need to do but here I am falling completely asleep next to her.  Oh, and sleeping with my husband- that is completely out of the equation.  We will sleep together when we die I guess- next to each other’s graves.  I mean, really….  when Hollywood portrays these parents who are making out while their kids sleep soundly in the next room- that is pure fiction.  Even my friends whose kids sleep through the night have rough nights – kids get sick, kids get scared, etc.,  

For us , the reality is getting the kids to bed is tough, getting a good night’s rest/sleep is even tougher.  My older one will sleep alone for about 4-5 hours and then realize no one is next to her.  She will scream out and need someone to be with her or put her back down.  This could go on all night and we play musical beds all night- we could start in Room A and end in Room C.  My younger one, oh she is a special one- she will go to sleep and on good nights, sleep 4-5 hours but then may wake up at 3-4am or 530am and demand milk.  What a nightmare.   My husband or I have to go downstairs, warm milk and bring it back to her and then, if we’re lucky,  she will go back to sleep.  If we are not, we will be up with her ’til its time to get ready.  Sometimes, when she goes through her reverse sleep cycles, she will still be up all night long and want to sleep all day.  We believed all this would end when she started day care but it’s just not so- this is our reality.  Another thing she does is make humming noises or self-soothing sounds all night long.  We can hear this three rooms down the hall.   It wakes up my other daughter, and here we go again!

As a married couple we wanted kids.  We felt all along that we were missing something.  Now, we know that we genuinely are missing some things:  Sanity, sleep, and oftentimes, nutrition.  But, don’t get me wrong- we love them and even one hour away from them and we miss them.  But, the truth is that I wish someone had warned me more and prepared me more for what parenting really is and all its challenges instead of painting this picture of perfection and Eutopia.  Because parenting couldn’t be further from those two concepts.  It is a daily challenge, a daily adventure, and with its rewards and benefits, come its struggles.  Only another parent can appreciate this.  Only another parent can appreciate what we all go through- even those who have “perfect” children, and even the most “perfect” of parents falter sometimes.  All I can say is – be happy with what you have – the good, the bad, the ugly; the fact, the fiction, the fantasy, and ….the reality.  What they don’t tell you is … Parenting, amidst all of the above; well, there’s just nothing else quite like it.

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What? No Magic Solution?

When I was contemplating sleep training my infant three months ago, I never thought we’d try to sleep train my toddler. It is just harder to sleep train a toddler who is accustomed to a certain way. We were able to get her in her own bed of course, one of us needed to stay with her or play musical beds all night long. It was a mess! We decided to hire a sleep consultant. When I first E-mailed her, I thought she’d help me with the infant. My goal: Sleep train one of them – the infant is the easier one to train – and life would be somewhat easier. The Sleep “expert” or consultant, however, had another plan. Sleep train the 2-year old, and the infant, we could train after 4-5 months of age. Well, as you have been reading, the sleep training of the toddler did not go well at all – we gave up after 8 nights and decided it was harder on our family to sleep train than to just deal with the game of musical beds all night long, everyday. So, we are back to square one. During transition back to the “way it was”, our toddler slept through the night for 2 nights and now has reverted back. What took 9 days to build (and trust me, we did not build much), only took 2 nights to undo.

When it comes to sleep training a toddler, there is no magic solution. You can use Pantley, Weissbluth or any other book out there. You can even pay someone to come into your home and tell you what you are doing wrong (probably alot because you suck as parents) but there is no magic wand you can wave to get a toddler sleep trained. All you can do is exercise patience and pray and hope that one day, she will just do it on her own. For now, we are back to square one but there are two things we are taking forward that we learned from this whole experience: (1) Earlier bedtime and routine – definitely a must in our household – it is obvious with her meltdowns, that our child is truly ready for bed by 730pm and (2) She has to remain contained until one of us can get in there- that is, she does not get to open the door and wander through the home at will. She is after all, TWO!

With those two things going forward, who knows? We may all sleep in our own beds agian by the beginning of the next decade… most likely, we will continue these games well into 2011. Good night, and Good luck!

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Can’t a girl just get some sleep already?

So, we have started sleep training our 2-year old – better late than never I suppose but when you start this late, you must accept some pretty harsh consequences. If you sleep train a child between 6 and 10 months, it is easier. Granted, it is never easy to hear your child crying for you from the next room over but it is easier because they cannot say your name, they cannot completely understand everything going on, and for the most part, the kids are still unaware of what is happening. Moreover, they will not remember much and training can be done within 2-3 nights. However, now flash forward to that same child at age 2 … what a nightmare!

Our daughter is very intelligent and understands what is going on. What is worse is that she screams our names- “maama… please open door! Mamma please come here, lay down here sleep- (name) crying…” It is so sad it breaks your heart. What is worse, it breaks my husband’s heart even more. She screams for him and he does not come because we cannot. We are supposed to do something called “compassionate” sleep solutions. My theory is that anything that involves this much crying does not involve compassion. Let’s call a spade a spade- it is cry it out but controlled cry it out.

Why are we here if we cannot stomach it? Well, it is even harder for us to stomach playing musical beds every night. Since the infant arrived, it is harder around nap times and bed times to handle them both especially since neither can self soothe or go to sleep on their own. So, nap times and bed times are very stressful on the whole family. What is worse is that the infant wakes up to nurse almost all night and the toddler gets up several times too – so, it becomes quite the juggling act for the two of us, enslaving us to the kids. Man to man coverage is great, but what if one of us has a business trip? Then what happens? So, we are hoping for some good results from this. And if not, we figure, the alternative is not bad either- the toddler will sleep with us in the king size bed, and we will just wisen up and sleep train the infant in 3 months. For god’s sake – we need just one to sleep through the night!

In the meantime, with all the sleep training going on, no one is getting any sleep in the house – not the toddler who is crying her eyes out, not the parents, and the only one who is unfazed by all this is the infant who seems to be getting sleep when she needs it 🙂 Good nite to all! (We HOPE)

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I need some sleep!

After reading several books on sleep training, nap training, and the like, I have finally decided to take the plunge and hire a sleep consultant. We were lucky enough to get a reference to a sleep consultant living right here amidts our town and so we have decided to hire her and see what she can possibly do to help. I am trying to keep an open mind but am convinced that my 2-year old is beyond training- I am convinced that my husband and I will be walking zombies for the rest of our adult lives – well, until I jump off a ledge or the kids go off to college that is.

Today, I finally got to speak with the lady we will be hiring to help us train our child to sleep – sure, the onus is on us and that lady will not be sleeping in our home experiencing our triumphs and set backs but she will be there available by phone and email. In any case, I hope the plan she develops for us works. If it does not, I may lose all hope together and decide to go ahead and jump off the tallest building in Denver- what is that building anyway? Does anyone know?

The consultant talked with me about some background information -ages, family lifestyle (i.e. do we work, stay at home, etc.), do we have a schedule for our toddler? Do we co-sleep or prefer the crib and separate bedroom? She is using all of this to hopefully help create a good plan for us. Fortunately, for us, our daughter is already getting used to her own room and sleeps there – she just needs one of us with her. Fortunately, for 28 days out of the month, our toddler is taking good afternoon naps unless we interrupt them of course. In any case, these are all good things I learned but now we work on sleep independence for her.

The consultant informed me that she does not work with infants younger than 4-5 months but that the same principles we learn for our toddler will apply to our infant in another few months and we could try it on our own. She also informed me that she has had no repeat customers. I am not sure that is good info or bad. My thoughts are people are too embarrassed or too broke to call her back 🙂 But in either case, there is no money back guarantee on good sleep. We will see what happens but in any case, I feel good that I am trying to take steps to get some sanity and sleep back and possibly some quiet times with my husband. Is it possible that we will have our bed back someday? I sure hope so… til then, I will soldier on the best I can and join the ranks of other walking zombies (A.K.A. parents).

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Sleepless days and nights

I have read just about every sleep book recommended on the market today – Sears, Pantley, Weissbluth, 90-minute sleep solution, Ferber method, and the controversial method of Baby Wise. I have read about it all and read 6 books including one from Pantley on toddler sleep because I have two that do not sleep. Of course, the infant is only 9 weeks old. My first born did not sleep well either – she would take cat naps as well but eventually after 4 months, she started taking 1 hour naps.

This past weekend, Sunday, after our house guest left, I decided to try some of the techniques I have read about from Pantley, Weissbluth, and the 90-minute sleep program. So far, nothing is working. My child, like clock work goes to sleep within 90 minutes of waking, but is up within 15 to 45 minutes and I know is not going enough sleep but there is not much else I can do. When she wakes up from these “cat naps”, she is alert, often crying and even with nursing and/or rocking, does not go back to sleep. It is quite unnerving. I have read about other kids who do this as well – generally lasts until about 4 months of age or longer.
In any case, the research out there is daunting and it is overwhelming. What does not help is when people are bragging about their sleeping kids – their kids are the wonder ones who sleep all the time even after 4 weeks of life. But reading about all the kids out there who are in the same boat as ours does make me feel like we are not alone in our struggles. There is no cookie cutter approach to raising a kid-same goes for sleep training but we will soldier on. I am a zombie and my mother who is helping right nowa and my husband – we are all exhausted!

In any case after three weeks of sleepless days and night, I will soldier in with the methods I learn (and there are a billion out there) and try every piece of equipment I own but in the end, may just have to accept my fate. If you read this and have any suggestions please share. If you are writing to just brag, please save it for your facebook page – I do not want to hear it.

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