21 May 2010

Sleep training sucks. And works.

I have a weird relationship with the concept of sleep training. With each child I've started out completely opposed to the idea, and then reality gave a swift kick in the rear. It's essential, at least for my kids.

Liam had it the hardest, I think. On the one hand he was the best sleeper as an infant. He ended up sttn on his own at around 7 months. On the other hand, I had to sleep train him as a toddler when he started the bad habit of insisting I fall asleep with him nightly on his little, tiny, uncomfortable toddler bed.

Sleep training a toddler sucks balls. There was about a week there, where I'd put him to bed, read a story, kiss him...and then book it like hell out of his room to the hallway where I had a book waiting for me. I'd sit down on the floor with one hand on the doorknob and hang on for dear life. The sound of a toddler throwing the tantrum to end all tantrums was heartbreaking to hear.

I was young and was pretty much going by instinct. This method, while it feels crude and cruel now, was all I had. I had nothing else. But I told myself I'd never use CIO out again.

Along came Nicky. While Liam was easy as an infant, Nicky was stubborn. That kid hated to sleep from the get go. And eventually sleep training entered the picture again. This time I tried a modified version where I checked on him at intervals. That just pissed him off though, so I settled for peeking in his room to make sure he was safe. While the huge tantrums of the first few days tapered off, he continued to put up a token fight for months. None of this magical "3 days and they're good to go" crap I'd been hearing. We started when he was around 9 months and he was successfully sleeping through the night by 15 months. 3 days my ASS.

Now with my sweet little Josh. He'll fall asleep okay....sometimes. He'll sleep a good chunk of time....sometimes. He's not consistent and by the end of the day if he's not falling asleep I'm just about ready to lose it. He's very clingy, so clingy baby + daredevil toddler + lippy pre-teen = mom who's absolutely done by the end of the day.

As I sat on the phone with my mom the other night and was all but crying to her about how frustrated I am, she tried to comfort me by telling me that it's not the end of the world and he'd grow out of this stage. That's when it hit me. My child not sleeping IS the end of my world. When my whole world is my children, then the universe needs to give me a flipping break. Let them develop good sleeping habits so that I can continue to be the fun, patient mom that I need to be. The mom that I AM most of the day, until 8 o'clock hits and Josh is still awake.

So ya, all that to say...we've started sleep training for the 3rd and final time. Thank the good dear Lord.

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