I would be fascinated to see statistics of the number of parents who leapt into sleep training their child without a little trepidation.
The general consensus out there is that sleep training is hard. Parents feel that sticking to a sleep schedule will cause stress to the baby or child and also to the parents – possibly even the whole family.
The interesting thing is that the actual process of sleep training is not at all hard. It is the closest thing to a user-guide that you’ll get for your baby. It is simply a series of check-points that needs to be checked off as one goes through the day – and it changes as your baby’s needs change.
So, if the process of sleep training is not hard, what part of it is freaking you out? Let’s take a closer look:
Perhaps you are able to relate to one or all of the following scenarios from some of my clients before we started their sleep training programmes:
“The main concern for me with sleep training was I was worried about having to watch my little girl struggle while she adapted. I didn’t like the idea of my new baby daughter battling and being uncomfortable. That was hard. I didn’t like the idea of sitting outside her room while she was fussing. Even though I knew this battle would be good for her in the long run, it was difficult for me to do.”
“What if I want to stay out to dinner till 7:30pm but the schedule says the baby needs to be put down at 7pm? I would feel so resentful.”
“I was so nervous at the thought of the sleep training routine interfering with my social life and my plans. I was scared of losing my independence.
If I want to leave the house at a certain time, then I don’t want to feel guilty that it’s the wrong time to leave the house because the baby needs to be put down.”
“I was really keen to start sleep training my baby, but my partner isn’t. I know I’ll enjoy the routine and the order that it brings, but my partner is worried about how restricted our lives will become.”
“I feel myself hesitating to start sleep training as I’ve signed my son up to all these classes. I’m feeling a little sick as I spent so much money on these classes but actually it conflicts with my child’s sleep schedule.”
In my experience the anxiety a parent has before embarking on a Sleep Training Programme comes down to 5 points:
1. Witnessing your baby struggle to adapt
I’ve written two detailed blogs on the subject of parents dealing with the aspect of sleep training where baby might protest while making changes (see links below).
There is a common misconception that parents think the ‘cry-it-out’ method is an assumed part of a sleep training routine for their baby or toddler.
I go to great lengths to tell my clients that my approach is NOT cry-it-out.
I am a parent and I would NEVER have attempted sleep training – nor enjoyed the rewards thereof – if it involved something as scary-sounding as ‘cry-it-out’.
My approach involves the ‘check-in’ and it does account for some amount of protesting which can be translated into a bit of fussiness and a small amount of crying at times.
To find out more on this subject see the following links:
Psychological damage associated with sleep training
2. Losing one’s independence and ability to be spontaneous, and,
3. Getting your partner on-board
(I’m putting these two categories together as chances are the partner isn’t on board because they’re worried about point number 2.)
The best way to dive into putting one’s mind at ease regarding this subject is to give you a testimony from one of my clients:
“I can’t believe how our lives have changed. In just a few days of sleep training, we feel like we have our lives back! We have so many hours for ourselves in the evening now. For fun we added all these hours up and it equates to 14 days a year of ‘us’ time. This is what our financial investment equates to directly. It is like buying a two week holiday!”
I can’t put it much better than that. Thank you Melanie and Eric. I’m beyond happy that you’re so happy!
Are you one of the many parents out there I see dining in a restaurant at 9pm or later with your two-year old in tow? Parents are so determined to get on with their adult lives that they tend to treat their child like an adult. They drag them along wherever they go. “This is what I want to do therefore my child must do it too.”
A child needs A LOT of sleep. Many parents take advantage of this by getting baby to sleep in the car while they’re driving around. What they don’t realise is that sleep on the go is much like junk food. It does the trick but it’s not the best, most restful, good quality sleep. What’s more – it will come back to bite you when baby has only been taught to sleep in the car, or in her buggy.
For those who are trying to get through these baby and toddler years on YOUR schedule, tell me, how’s it going for you? How free to live your life are you feeling? What are the fatigue levels like?
I’m going to hazard a guess that since you’re reading this blog right now that it’s not going so well.
If you are so worried about losing your ‘freedom’ as an adult, then what on earth are you waiting for? Quickly! The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start living again!
4. Adapting baby’s extra-curricular activity classes
This is something a lot of my clients find themselves having to deal with while we’re having our chats. Remember – as any experienced sleep consultant will tell you – you’ll be wasting your money on these classes anyway because if he’s compromising sleep he’s not going to get the value out of it anyway.
You have one of three choices here:
1. Go ahead and honour your financial choices and complete the various courses you’ve paid for before we start on a sleep training programme. Just remember the point I made above: forcing your baby through the day when they are tired is futile, no matter what activity is on the go.
2. Some organisations may appreciate what you are trying to do and might ‘hold’ baby’s spot till a later stage when baby is a little older and when she need less sleep. Or, they might be able to rather slot baby in at a different time that suits the sleep routine.
3. Forgo the payment and write it off as an initial loss that will be made back ten- and twentyfold within a few weeks (if that) when the whole family is calm, collected, balanced and well rested.
5. Managing what YOU think would be fun for your baby (or for you) vs what is right for your baby
This point applies to all the above points. The thing is, life is not a sprint. There is time for everything you want to do with your beautiful baby. Slow down a little.
A reputable sleep consultant will take all aspects of your life and your family’s life into consideration. A good consultant knows and understands that we all have needs. All these needs will be factored into your unique programme.
Remember the goal here: We want to get baby sleeping properly so he is well rested so he can be healthy and he can grow up fit and strong – physically and mentally. He needs to do this in the right environment.
When I say environment I don’t only mean his room, his cot, the darkness of the room, etc. I also mean the environment that comes directly from the general atmosphere of the home. No one thrives in a stressful environment where there is shouting and angst. Therefore it is to baby’s benefit that the people who live in his home are also balanced, rested and content.
Your sleep consultant will encourage ‘me time’ for the parents. Not only is this essential, it is, in fact, the very best part. You can go and enjoy your own activities knowing you have a contented baby.
Going back to Eric and Melanie again:
They quickly got to the point with their sleep training where they could see how much they were gaining. They saw the benefits once the sleep schedule was in full working order and they could say:
“Oh, I get it. We got our lives back. We understand that our little person needs a different schedule and we can learn to build our schedule around that and still have what we want from our day and our evening.”
So, I want to reiterate that sleep training is not hard – it is rather the discipline that comes with sticking to a schedule that will take a little adjustment. This adjustment will not only be experienced by baby, it will also be experienced by you.
Special note: A good sleep training consultant and a specialised programme is ESPECIALLY for those parents out there who are battling with idea of sleep training. We can help you ‘get back to yourself’. It is essential for baby that you are happy.
If you have questions, please have a FREE chat with me by clicking on Discovery Call. I’d love to share my knowledge with you. Not only will I put your mind at ease, I want you to get excited at the freedom you can expect to embark on WITH your beautiful baby.