There are very few parents that embark on the sleep training journey without some level of fear, misconception, nervousness, or uncertainty. The whole concept of sleep training and possibly imagining your child in distress can often paralyse a parent from acting. I have seen it either delay or prevent sleep coaching or interfere in the process once it has already begun.
One thing that is vividly apparent to me as a parent, is how hard it is for me to watch my children struggle through challenges that I know I could easily step in and fix for them.
I sleep trained my firstborn son when he was a little over a year old, prior to my journey as a sleep consultant. I got up to feed him back to sleep, every hour on the hour and I did this for many months, feeling as though it was my rightful duty as a mother. I wore the badge with honour, and it took me a full year to realise that my self-sacrificial attitude was not benefiting anybody in our home.
Once my second child was born, I was far more knowledgeable and determined to do things right from the start, yet this dream was crushed as she suffered with unmanageable colic.
Here I was in the optimal position, having an abundance of knowledge at my disposal. Yet here I sat, feeling and thinking the thoughts I so commonly hear expressed from my clients- that they are not sure their child is ready, or that they know the process has worked for many children, but they are just doubtful it will work for their child.
Sometimes as parents I think we are too close to the situation and our children, to see the situation from a neutral perspective. When it came to my daughter, I constantly delayed implementing sleep training fundamentals because I continually told myself that she could not possibly do it. She was not ready and I had the ultimate excuse: colic.
I knew something needed to change. The day she turned 16 weeks I had finally built up the courage to try and she responded immediately. On night two she slept straight through the night for 13 hours. Miraculously, the following day her colic instantly disappeared. I do not think that was coincidental.
For months I was bouncing her, rocking her, using either the dummy or breast to appease the crying and yet none of it worked. Looking back, I think my daughter was crying, telling me to just stop what I was doing. But the more she cried, the less I stopped.
The moment I chose to pursue sleep training, was the first time I actually did stop. I stopped doing everything I had been doing up until that point and she breathed a huge baby sigh of relief. My daughter just wanted to soothe herself.
I do not think that this is an uncommon scenario. As parents we are often too close to the problem and this narrows our thinking. I want to believe my child is different, that he is not ready, he is genuinely hungry at night, or that he will crumble under the notion of being put in his cot to put himself to sleep? Yet have you ever stopped, simply taken a step back and wondered whether your child might just surprise you?
There is an expression “you can’t see the forest for the trees”. It suggests that when you are too close to a situation, it is difficult to see it as it is. If you have been uncertain, or have been delaying the process, I encourage you to step back and think of where you want your family to be in 2 years from now. When you are able to build up the courage to see the bigger picture, you will be in the position to gift your child with something invaluable, the gift of independent sleep.
The guidance of a sleep trainer can be a wonderful way to gain an unbiased and a new perspective on your sleep issues. This is a valuable way to gain a fresh set of eyes and a clear mind. We have worked with many children and know what they are capable of, we have worked with countless nervous moms and walked them through the process. We not only support you through the journey, but we also empower you with knowledge. Give it a shot, you will be grateful that you did.
By Tammy Buitendach – Good Night Consultant