This week I stumbled upon an advertisement for a webinar called "Why Sleep Training Doesn't Work", and it really stuck with me. My son is 16 months old now, and we started sleep training him at 4 months of age...and it worked. He's an awesome sleeper and, fortunately for me, the clients I have worked with are all experiencing the same thing (100% success rate!!!...just saying)!
Jack, my son, has consistently slept between 10 & 12 hours a night and been a great napper since our "training" was complete. Notice how I said "consistently" and not "always"? The truth is, Jack, much like myself has the occasional bad night or day here and there...AND THAT'S TOTALLY NORMAL! So then I started thinking, what constitutes a success when it comes to sleep training? Who are we really training here? My answer may surprise you!
My boy, Jack, killing this whole sleeping thing!
When I started sleep training my child, I was doing so out of necessity. I was in a really, REALLY, dark place! My patience was at an all time low, I was depressed and anxious, my husband was facing the brunt of my short fuse on a daily basis (probably more than once daily...sorry, Paul). To me it felt like we HAD to train our child to sleep so that the three of us could survive! However, I quickly learned that we weren't really training our baby...my husband and I were training ourselves.
**Shameless plug for my job below**
I started using the Sleep Sense™ program to "make my kid sleep through the night" but what I found was that the program was teaching me to LISTEN to my child. I was learning to respond to my childs cues and to follow my gut when it came to dealing with night wakings or short naps. Prior to that, I'd read something in a book or online and try it without figuring out how it would work with my parenting stylem and it never worked. With Sleep Sense™ my family was in the driver seat and the program was the vessel to help us reach OUR goals, not someone else's goals, ours. That's why I believe so strongly in Sleep Sense™ and why I am so passionate about what I do!
Over the last two weeks of July, we were struggling a with naps, bedtimes and early risings. Jack would play for an hour at bedtime, wake at 5 or 5:30 (A.M my friends, A M!) and then only nap for an hour or an hour and a half. Yes he was getting around 10.5 hours of nighttime sleep but, something wasn't right, he was cranky and started hitting and biting me and my husband. Before that, he'd sleep from 7pm to 6:30am and nap from Noon until 2 or 2:30, I was thrown off my game and felt myself getting frustrated with my once very sweet boy who had turned into a monster. I wondered if the terrible two's were hitting early and had almost resigned myself to having to deal with this new version of my son for the next year or so. But my gut told me that the terrible two's weren't to blame.
So, I stopped to listen to what Jack's new schedule was telling me and when I considered all things, I figured out that he was dealing with a big sleep debt and he was VERY overtired! Our July was one of the busiest months we've ever had and his routine had fallen by the wayside. It took 3 nights of early bedtimes and following his cues for naps and I'm happy to report my kid is sleeping from 7pm to 7am and is napping from 12:30-2:30 or 3. That's the thing about infant and toddler sleep, it's so heavily dependent on what is happening during all sleep situations. We couldn't have fixed bedtime without addressing naps, and we couldn't address naps without figuring out this early rising thing. He has been in a PHENOMENAL mood for about a week now. He's back to his sweet self, always hugging and kissing his animals good morning and good night, holding my hand when we read books and giving me snuggles without any prompting from me.
Sleep success is when you create, and meet, a goal you have set for yourself and your family. Your goal can be different from someone else's, that's ok! And sleep training, at least in my opinion, is about teaching parents to listen to what their child's cues are telling them and following their parental instincts. If that results in a child sleeping 12 hours a night and taking awesome naps, all without tears? Well, who could ask for more?