It was 4 am on a rainy Tuesday morning the first time I ever read a blog post, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my daughter’s room with my boob in her mouth for the fourth time that night, and after months and months of not sleeping more than a few hours in a row, I was delirious from exhaustion and starting to fear for my sanity.
And I felt so incredibly alone.
But then I started reading about other people’s experiences with sleep training, and I suddenly felt like I had an entire community of women standing behind me, unknowingly cheering me on from the sidelines.
The funny thing is, I never intended to sleep train my child. In fact, I always thought the whole concept was kind of archaic and selfish. But once the 4-month sleep regression took its hold and I was spending more than 10 hours of my day with my boobs in my daughter’s mouth, I changed my mind.
So I read a couple hundred dollars worth of sleep training books and set to work in figuring out a way for my family to start sleeping again.
Six months later, while I was lying in a pile of snot and tears on the living room floor feeling like the biggest failure to walk this earth, I finally admitted defeat and hired a sleep coach. And you know what? It was the best gift I’ve ever given myself.
Within 3 days, my daughter no longer needed my boobs to help her to fall asleep.
Within a week, my husband started to enjoy coming home after work.
Within 2 weeks, I started shaving my legs again.
And by the time the month was over, my daughter was falling asleep (and staying asleep!) without any help from me.
It was magical.
And now that I’m past that difficult stage, I’ve decided it’s time to write down some of my sleeping training tips and tricks. Not because I’m pregnant and getting ready for another round of sleep training or anything crazy like that, but because I hope I can help another desperately tired soul out there find her way back to a good night of sleep.
Just like those other women did for me.
1. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. Just because your college roommate let her son cry for 5 hours when she sleep trained him (true story!), it doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing. There are loads of options out there. You just have to find the one you’re comfortable with.
2. Be realistic. My daughter is living proof that sleep training can take a lot longer than the promised 3-5 nights, so do yourself a favor and don’t expect a miracle.
3. Don’t be afraid to take a break. Everyone will preach about consistency, consistency, consistency, and while I wholeheartedly agree this is important, I also think you need to have a little compassion. So if you’re child’s screaming bloody murder one night, take her out of her room, distract her for 15 minutes, and try again. Just don’t make those 15-minute breaks a habit!
4. Find a support group. My husband travels a lot for business and works crazy hours, so he wasn’t overly helpful on the sleep training front. But one of my girlfriends really stepped up and helped me get through it by sending me text messages, calling me, and having THIS BOOK delivered to me after a particularly rough week. And I will be forever grateful to her.
5. Remember that it won’t last forever. I don’t know of any teenagers who need their parents’ to bounce them, rock them, or sing to them every night before they go to sleep, do you??!
6. Be careful who you talk to. Sleep training is a sensitive topic (in fact, it took 2 glasses of wine for me to work up the courage to schedule this post last night), and there are women out there who can’t wait to throw their opinions in your face. My advice? Steer clear of the ones who don’t share your opinions. And when someone does give you some unsolicited advice on the matter, politely thank them, change the subject, and remember that it’s really easy to judge someone when you’re not living their life.
7. Eat a lot of ice cream. And make sure to chase it down with a lot of wine.
If you’re looking for more tips about baby sleep, make sure to signup with The Baby Sleep Site®. It’s a fabulous resource for both new and well-seasoned parents, and it’s FILLED with tricks to help you find your family’s way back to a good night of sleep!