I recently spoke with 2 parents whose biggest sleep struggle was co-sleeping with their 5-year old. These busy working parents were having a discussion with me about the best way to get their child sleeping all night in his own bed when he was currently sleeping in their bed from bedtime to morning. A parent had to lay down with him and they were tied to him all night. They really wanted to know how to get their kid to sleep without laying down with him.
Dad was happy to recount fond memories of sleeping in his parents bed and how he was happy to continue letting him sleep with them. The look on mom’s face was not so inviting or happy. Both parents worked full time jobs, sometimes working from home, and both were deep into a training plan for an upcoming marathon. Mom was ready to have their bed back to themselves and get a full night of sleep.
While co-sleeping or bedsharing with a child is just one scenario, there are plenty of situations where parents could disagree when it comes to their children. You may disagree on the best way or most comfortable way to sleep train your child or how to handle sleep regressions. Whatever the situation, here are a few tips and considerations to have a meaningful conversation.
Parents should think of how each parent feels about co-sleeping with their child and consider the other parent’s feelings on it. Have an open mind about seeing the situation from your spouse’s perspective. This will make you more receptive to coming to a decision together.
Second, consider also the potential impacts to the family, other children, and everyone’s mental health and wellness. Will co-sleeping with one child mean that another child is always alone or doesn’t get as much time with mom/dad? Without having an open mindset and considering how everyone is impacted, it’s difficult to see why your opinions differ. Parent’s need to consider what is best for everyone, including both mom and dad. Thinking about these things may bring a new perspective that can change a parent's mind.
Third, consider how well everyone is sleeping. Parenting should be a partnership! If everyone who shares the bed is getting plenty of sleep (7-9 hours for adults, 10-12 hours for kids overnight), then ok. Rock on. If one or both parents are complaining about bad sleep, it may be time to reconsider.
Discerning how much weight each impact on the family holds can show you which opinion should prevail in your decision. Talking through the perspectives mentioned above can help parents get on the same page in moving forward with their child’s sleep habits.
Need a third party to help you work through the best decision for your family? Schedule a free call today with us and we’ll help you determine the best way forward.
It's Sleep Awareness Week, and a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 44% of single moms living with children under the age of 18 fall short of recommendations for proper sleep.
My top recommendations for single parents to get a little more restful sleep!
Watch the video for WUSA9 below:
I can help with that last one! Connect with me today to see how we can optimize your kids' independent sleep, to make sure you are getting your best chance for your own much-needed rest.
Things to do when your kid won't let you out of the room.
Here’s the scenario: you’ve all had a long day, you’re tired and you’re totally ready for your toddler to go to bed for the night. You do the bath, the PJs, brush teeth (maybe), read a story, sing a quick song, pick a new stuffed animal…then you go to put your toddler into their crib and your sweet child stands there and screams at the top of their lungs!
It might catch you off guard. It might be something new. You’ve entered a new phase of growth. I promise it’s normal for a toddler to scream and protest at bedtime.
Why does my toddler scream?
Here's what's going on: Your toddler is learning! Toddlers are learning how to do things, how to get things and what's expected of them. They want to have all the independence in the world, but have no idea what to do with it. For instance, your toddler wants to run free in a parking lot filled with cars...do you let him? Of course not! Your little one likely doesn't understand cause and effect...the same thing goes for bedtime when your toddler would rather be playing and having a good time with you than go to bed!
What do you do when your toddler screams at bedtime?
As parents, it's up to us to set limits.
We can fall all too easily into the trap of letting our child run the home. I mean, they are incredibly needy and can’t do much for themselves right? But as parents, we know what is best for our child (aka they need to sleep to function…) and we have our own sleep needs as well. Setting limits helps us to meet our own needs in addition to the needs of our child when they can’t meet those needs (or even recognize them) themselves.
So how do we set these limits?
It can become a bit of a dance, but it all starts with a firm, predictable routine. Each night, do the same routine so it is clear to your child that bedtime is approaching and they will be sleeping soon. Taking a bath, getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc. are some things that can be a part of your routine.
Here’s where the fun comes in! Since toddlers are discovering their independence, they are likely to want to gain control of every situation they can, which can be a part of the reason why they are struggling with bedtime. The key to dodging big power struggles is to give your child bit-sized bits of control throughout the evening. What do I mean? Consider this. Your child cannot choose whether or not they want to go to bed, but they can choose if they want the red blanket or the green one. See what I mean? If your child is given the chance to make age-appropriate decisions, they will feel more in control. Let them choose the bedtime story or the song you sing to them. Allow them some independence in the smaller things while standing firm in the big picture.
Once your child feels like they have some control, it will be easier to enforce the limits you’ve set surrounding bedtime. One of these limits should be a specific set bedtime, and can also include expectations such as reading only one story, singing just one song, etc. Being firm but gentle with your child will send the message that this is a solid rule that they are expected to follow. Of course, with each child and situation, it’s important to use your own judgment. Come up with a plan. Predict what may happen before it occurs and plan out your responses. What will you say if your child cries for you to stay with them? Maybe you settle them in and tell them you’ll check in on them in 10 minutes. Maybe you remind them of what a great day they had and encourage them to think about what to do tomorrow. Maybe you let them cry for a little bit to show them you mean business before checking in on them again. Whatever you choose to do, make the expectations clear. And remember that it is only a season and you won’t be dealing with this forever!
Have you ever been trapped by an overtired toddler? Are you stuck in a rut and can’t figure out what to do next? Schedule a free call with me and I’ll help you troubleshoot!
Toddlers are fascinating creatures, aren’t they? Watching them develop into thinking, creative little people is such a fascinating time, and one that parents often wish would last a little longer. Of course, they usually wish that after baby’s grown out of the toddler stage, because along with that creativity and new found intelligence, we usually see a lot of boundary-testing, which can be a frustrating experience.
As your baby gets older, one of the biggest questions parents have is when is their child is ready for a toddler or ‘big kid’ bed. You may be expecting another child, your child is trying to climb out of the crib or just does not seem to ‘like’ the crib anymore. Here are some tips to tell if your child is ready to move out of the crib.
Ask yourself why you’re considering a move out of the crib. If you are expecting another child and you need the crib but your older child is sleeping well, then purchase another crib. Do not change a great sleeping situation if you do not have to. If your child is climbing or attempting to climb out of the crib, make sure the crib is lowered as far as possible. If your child can still get out of the crib, it’s time for a big kid bed.
If you think your child just does not like the bed, take a look at what is going on leading up to bedtime. Is your child getting too excited during play or is your toddler just testing the waters to see if he/she can push bedtime? Make sure you know that if you put your child in a big kid bed that they understand they need to stay in bed all night.
If your child is old enough to ask for a new bed or wants to be like their friend with the big kid bed, it’s probably time to move out of the crib.
Overall, it’s best to wait until your child is closer to 3 years old before switching to a big kid bed. Children younger than 2.5-3 years old may not grasp the concept of staying in bed all night and decide to use their new found freedom to run the house at 3am. Your child has to be ready for a different bed, not you, in order to be successful.
So whom would you say is the parent that gets the bulk of nighttime responsibility for getting up with your child? I know what you’re thinking…and yes, in my experience, it’s usually mom.
I don’t want to stereotype, but I usually don’t get calls where both parents share all the nighttime duties and everyone is sleeping like a baby all night. I usually get calls from exhausted parents who are having issues getting their babies to sleep and usually have to have something done to them to get them back to sleep at night, otherwise known as a prop. The most common of which usually is not Dad’s doing…
And the most common prop I see, by far, is nursing, which pretty much leaves Dad out of the equation.
Now, this is a problem for a couple of reasons. Obviously, if baby’s waking up six times a night and demanding Mom come in to nurse her back to sleep, that’s taxing on mother and baby. But there’s another person who tends to suffer in this scenario, and that’s Dad. It might be hard to imagine, some of you may be reading this in the middle of the night while baby is having a party, and you know your husband is in dream land in the next room.
But let’s not wish him to share in our pain just yet.
Dads want to be great dads. They want to have an active role in bringing up their kids, and they love it when they feel like they’re succeeding in that role. But because Mom is the one with the magical breast milk, touch and smell, Dad often feels powerless to help out in the sleep department, which means Mom’s up every time baby cries, and Dad, can’t do much but go back to sleep.
This can lead to some hostility from a sleep deprived Mom, who feels like she’s doing more than her share, and some defensiveness from Dad, who gets to feeling attacked for something he has no control over.
But here’s the good news for both of you…
If you’ve decided to give sleep training a try, I often recommend that Dad takes the lead… at least for the first few nights. That’s right! Go sleep it off, Mom. Dad’s taking point on this one. So when it comes to breaking the association between sucking (bottle, pacifier or breast) and falling asleep, baby tends to learn quicker and respond better when Dad comes into the room during the first few nights of baby learning to fall asleep independently. He can even give baby a bottle if you're still doing night feeds.
Here’s the funny thing. Whenever I drop this little tidbit on couple I’m working with, Mom lets out a big ‘yeeaaah’ and teases Dad about how he’s much fun he’s going to have getting up six times in the night.
But then, night one, as soon as baby starts to cry, Mom shoots out of bed and goes straight into baby’s room. Or even more regularly, Mom stands in the doorway instructing Dad on the right way to settle Baby back down, and corrects him every step of the way.
I have actually sent full-grown women to their rooms during overnight support packages.
If Dad’s going to get involved, he and Baby have to find their own rhythm, and Mom has to be able to let go of a little control. And as much as moms always say they’ll have no problem letting their husbands take the wheel, when it comes down to the moment of truth, many women want to jump back in.
So remember, Dad might just be the magical solution to your baby’s sleep issues, but give him a chance, he might just surprise you. Most of my clients see dramatic improvements in their baby’s sleep in just a couple of nights, so you won’t have to worry.
After that, you and your partner will have the evenings back to yourselves, and your whole family can get back to sleeping through the night.
Tired of being tired? Schedule a free call with me today and learn how to get started.
Christine Stevens has been recognized as one of the top sleep consultants in the U.S.
Christine Stevens is a Sleep Consultant for exhausted parents who want a solution that works for their parenting style. The want to reclaim their beds, their spouse and their sanity but they don’t know how to begin.
Interested in getting started? It's easy to schedule a free call to ensure we're a good fit.