Thursday, January 2, 2014

42 Times

My daughter, a wee tyke of fifteen months, had a habit of coming into the parental bed. Exhausted from twelve hour night shifts and a new round of morning sickness, I pulled her in and rolled over, grateful for any sleep. Except, I didn't sleep so well with her in the bed. She turned in every direction and oozed heat like lava from Mt. Kilauea. 

I read several books about children and sleep before finding the baby whisperer, Tracy Hogg. Maybe because the baby whisperer was a nurse, I got the message. I had to make the change, no one else-- neither the child herself nor my husband-- would rescue me. The baby whisperer method was gentle, clear, but required one to be firm in the face of resistance.

My call to action was signaled by the late night pitter-patter of little feet coming down the hall. As she drew nearer, a breath steeled my nerves even as I wondered if it was really the night to start. Did I have the energy to stick to the plan-- surely I should wait for a good night of sleep.

Her happy face cemented the beginning. I gently clasped her hand, trotted her back down the hall, tucked her into bed, patted her head (trying not to speak much as instructed), turned out the lights, and shut the door. I repeated this forty-two times that first night. The next night we made eighteen trips down the hall to her room. 

She's a tad stubborn, hence her nickname, the Mule.

My husband, gifted on many fronts in getting children to talk and with deescalating anxious parents, is not known as the enforcer of bedtime in our house. It is left to me to encourage visitors to leave after eight. Another motivator is the resident Rooster Moose (the second child is a morning lark) that will crow the song of the day at sunrise. The point is that there is no slacking on the bedtime front beyond an hour or two. It is not mastered one time; daily practice is required.

When I think I've tried something that didn't work, I remember, try it forty-two times, and then expect to do it some more. I wanted to give up, to just go back to sleep, but ultimately I knew the short term gain of sleep was not in the interest of either of us. For change to happen, it helped me to stick with the big picture of why the change was needed and to remember who it served-- good sleep meant happier mama, and happier mama meant better everyone else in the family.

If all else fails, restore your sense of humor. Listen to the audio of Samuel L. Jackson read Go the F**k to Sleep and then after laughing deliriously, try again.

Be gentle, firm, but persevere-- this is required of us for any change we attempt.


Helpful sleep tips!
Deliriously funny for sleep deprived fed up parents