Sleep reTraining

All good sleep habits went out the door during our vacation last week. No formal naps for O and Z, boys slept with daddy and little Z got mommy all to herself. Add in later bedtime and no routine: Viola! Pure hell on re-entry. Well, delayed hell.

Friday through Sunday seemed to be OK. We didn’t try to do naps, but bedtime was OK. Zoe protested a bit, and seemed satisfied with Mike lying on the floor until she drifted off. Then Monday happened.

After a blissful Monday morning and easy drop-off at daycare, the three cherubs returned home for dinner in good spirits. They scarfed down some Trader Joe’s chicken chow mein (extra chicken, lots of ketchup), and happily danced while watching Grease! It all fell apart for Zoe at bedtime.

Screaming and crying, demanding that somebody sleep with her (apparently Owen in the crib next to her wasn’t good enough), and climbing out of the crib repeatedly was how our evening went down, from 8:30 to 11:00. Then we picked right up again at 6:35 am, which meant all 3 were wide awake.

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled up until now, with at least 10 solid hours of sleeping children every night. But, as my heart wrenched with every plea, I had visions of disrupted evenings for years to come (and flashbacks to pulling the same thing on my parents). Sorry, little Z. In our house, everyone sleeps in their assigned bed.

Parenting strategies used: yelling, guilt, begging, promising to check on her when she stopped crying, ignoring, waiting out, and repeatedly returning her to bed.

Moving forward, the plan is to convert the crib and offer a reward for sleeping in her bed all week (she has requested purple sheets). Quietly and repeatedly returning her to bed will be the tactic for avoiding creating an unwanted habit.

People have different views and comfort zones regarding children and sleeping arrangements. That’s cool with me. I know the joy of snuggling with a sweet, sleeping child. It feels heavenly. For me, the problem begins when I can’t get anything done at night or early in the morning, and when it infringes upon my sleep or time with my husband. I also want my children to feel OK with sleeping alone (especially don’t want Zoe cuddling up to any warm body that’s available when she grows up!). So, for those parents who want to reclaim their bed (or don’t want to give it up in the first place) – hunker down for some painful nights and put those kids in their own beds! Repeatedly. Until they get the message.

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