Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wits' end

DD3C2A52-15A1-4E46-AF8A-8AA32B3F8583-1399-000001314F54A05B, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

If you were to ask me about my Maddy's strengths, one thing I would definitely say is that she is flexible. Personality-wise, anyway. She very much takes things "in stride." Getting her off a bottle at a year and a binky at 18 months? No problem. Transitioning from crib to toddler bed not much later? Smooth. She can stay awake (and happy) while we're out late at a party. She can be patient about eating. I can probably count on one hand the times she's shown stranger anxiety. She can entertain herself. She doesn't rely on a schedule (which is nice, because I'm really not a schedule person).

However, similar to those drugs that will cure your insomnia or acid reflux if you're willing to put up with a headache, nausea, chills, dizziness, fatigue, and possible death, Maddy's flexibility often comes with the side effect of inconsistency, most notably in the sleep department.

Inconsistency with when and how she falls asleep has led to inconsistency in her actual sleeping - meaning frequent up-in-the-middle-of-the-night nights with Maddy.

Some nights are worse than others. Sometimes I can console her by just sitting in her room with her for a few minutes. Other times, I have to lay down with her and I end up falling asleep there myself (and consequently waking up with a stiff neck). And in the worse cases, she ends up in Mommy and Daddy's bed. (I know. I KNOW.) And thankfully, it's not something we have to deal with every night, but it's often enough to be a problem.

Now, I've done research on this topic. I know we're supposed to have a bedtime routine (and we do). I know I'm not ever ever supposed to sit or lay on her bed to help her fall asleep (trying to abide by this has led to a lot of time spent on the floor in her room, which makes the stiff neck situation worse). I know if she gets up in the middle of the night, I'm supposed to just put her back in bed matter-of-factly, without really saying anything about it to her, and leave the room.

Now, I have nothing against letting her "cry it out" (a technique I fully support after a certain age), but well, I have something against her "crying it out" waking up her little sister, who is a super consistent sleeper but does not handle being woken up very well at all. I also have something against coherent thinking between the hours of 1 and 5 AM, which is when most of these instances occur. When she wakes me up, I'm not thinking about strategy or good parenting or what-the-heck-ever, I'm just thinking about getting back to sleep.

So basically, what I have to say is... HELP. Any advice? Tips? Tricks? Offers to let Maddy sleep at your house for the rest of her toddler years? Any and all of the above would be appreciated.


  1. sooo this sounds a lot like our Mia child. I've decided to deal with it by being flexible and telling everyone with their rules and opinions to take a hike. Like, never sitting on the side of the bed or whatever might work great for one kid and horrible for another (and give mom a stiff neck). Some kids take well to crying it out others get worked up into a psycho frenzy and wake the whole house.

    I know there are a lot of opinions in the region of kid/baby sleep, but it's your kid and there really isn't a rule book. I used to feel really guilty about letting Mia sleep in my bed because I knew it wasn't what I was "supposed" to do. But then I realized, I really liked having her in there every once in a while and she felt comforted and safe. I think kids need that sometimes just as much as they need a good routine.

    Now of course I'm not saying I want her to always be in my bed, but even as a teenager I'd sometimes get scared in the night from storms or dreams or whatever and just wanted to be by someone and would go sleep on my parents floor or whatever. I don't think I'm any the worse for it.

    And kids go through phases. Mia would, for a month or two, always come in our bed late in the night and we'd let her and other times she'd yell for help in the night and ask us to stay with her while she fell back to sleep and now she rarely does either. I'm sure she will probably again at some time, but it changes and there are phases and some are seriously annoying and we deal with them however we have to to survive (especially at 3am when your brain says to welcome the child into the bed).

    I think sometimes it helps to think of kids as full humans. If I have a bad dream and wake up shaken I'll wake up Adam and he helps me through it so I can sleep again. Wouldn't I feel awful if I felt scared and was so tiny and helpless and couldn't get that comfort in the night from my parents? Answer is I might have gone insane.

    The worst thing I can really see happening is she might develop weird sleep habits. The good news is that I don't know anyone who doesn't have weirdness about sleep. Seriously. Ask around.

    So. Longest comment from a virtual stranger ever made short: Do what you want and forget about the rules if they aren't working and make your own. Mia and Zoey have COMPLETELY different rules because they have completely different sleep weirdities.

    Good luck and sleep on!

  2. We have/had a very similar problem. I'm okay with Ethan crying it out until he wakes up Connor, then everyone is grumpy. And I'm a retard in the night.

    He's better for the most part but I don't think it was anything we did in particular. When he woke up and came into our room, we'd walk him back to his room and put him in bed. Most of the time I'd just put his blankie on, sometimes I'd hold his hand or pat his back for a minute or two, and occasionally I'd be the one on the floor with a stiff neck. I recommend a real pillow on the floor.

    Do what works for you and she will get over it eventually. I wish I had better tips for you. :( Good luck!

  3. Man, I hate this stuff. Two thoughts - maybe this is just a phase? If you make it not "fun" at all to wake you up in the middle of the night, then maybe she will stop doing it? Another idea is to be scheduled on putting her to sleep at night. Maybe try to put her to bed at the same time for a month and see what happens? I dunno, it's all part of having a toddler!

  4. My kiddos still come in when they have a bad dream or are sick, but when they were that age we started two things that helped a lot. 1. A picture of the Savior in their room. I would remind them at bedtime that they were never alone and could pray if they were scared or couldn't sleep. 2. Mom and dad's bed is open to everyone while the sun is up. You can come and snuggle, read, etc but only after the sun is up. I was a crazy mom and did all of those "don'ts" and my kids are all great (except as mentioned when a nightmare wakes them). Eliminate any nap that starts after 3pm and it will help to. Good luck. If she would sleep here, she would be welcome:)

  5. One more thought. As the weather changes (hot to cold and cold to hot) my kids woke up more often. Make sure she is covered, or uncovered with a fan (del. on time of year) before you go to bed. Sometimes it helps.


Your turn.