Sleep training is one of those things that sounds way more awesome than it actually is.
To the uninitiated, sleep training conjures images of comfortable mattresses with large pillows and mounds of soft blankets. Sure, a sleeping competition sounds strange, but could be fun. Back in the day, I was a champion sleeper. Once, when I was living in Asia, I even slept through a (mild) earthquake – true story. To this day, I’m bummed that I missed it.
Here’s the bad news. (I hope you’re sitting down.) Sleep training, alas, has nothing to do with sleeping as long and as deeply as possible.
Children have to be taught to sleep. And, like most things that require teaching, is not something that is particularly fun. Especially if you’re the parent.
I don’t remember sleep training Poppet. She’s always been a good sleeper so when she had to learn to go to sleep by herself, it happened quite quickly. She was about ten months old and the whole thing took just a few days.
Pixie has never been a great sleeper. From the day of her birth, she has needed to be held or rocked to fall asleep. There I was, still immobile after my C-section, trying to sleep through the pain, when the nurse brought her back to the room and said she wouldn’t stop screaming. Have you tried to sleep with a brand new baby cradled in your arms? It’s not impossible, but the quality of sleep is on the low end of the spectrum. So much for my hospital holiday.
Pixie is now 18 months old and if she doesn’t learn to go to sleep by herself soon, I am going to lose my mind. I thought the Easter weekend would be the perfect time to attempt sleep training – four day weekend! What I didn’t count on was the Easter Egg Factor. Chocolate + children = chaos. I knew this. Every parent knows this. But it is a perfect example of what sleep deprivation does to one’s memory.
Thursday night went well. (No chocolate, you see.) I did what the book said: cuddled until she was drowsy, laid her gently in her cot, said ‘shh’ now and then while rubbing her back, and then she fell asleep by 7pm. She moaned a few times during the night, but I just had to touch her softly and she went back into dreamland. What a wonderful start, I thought. I could smell success!
After church on Friday, Pixie had a little chocolate rabbit. That night, after I cuddled her until she was drowsy, I laid her in the cot – and she laughed at any further attempts to get her to sleep. She finally passed out at about 11:30pm. Sleep training fail.
There is another long weekend coming up soon. There will be no chocolate consumed that weekend, or in the days leading up to it. Well, no chocolate for Pixie. This zombie mom can’t cope without it.