Welcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!
My daughter is 2 1/2 and wakes up 2-3 times a night without fail. She screams and cries each time, which is upsetting for everyone (including our neighbors within the apartment complex). Her father and I are at our wits end and do not know what to do. We have a nighttime ritual to get her ready for bed where she spends time with both of us and gets a small snack plus enough to drink. When she wakes up she screams for food, milk, or her dad. Any advice on how to handle her poorly timed tantrums or stop them altogether? Thanks!
Your neighbors are going to hate you, unless you follow my excellent Bad Mom Advice for this situation. First of all, at two and a half your adorable daughter is too old to be pulling this manipulating nonsense, especially considering she has such a lovely bedtime ritual. She is playing you and your husband hardcore. I’m not sure how big your apartment complex is, but you first need to do some damage control for your neighbors. If your area is surrounded by under ten apartments, like if you live in a small enough building where you can do this, I would suggest making a flyer that reads something like “Hi, we are your neighbors in Apartment 4B! We have a young daughter we will be sleep training and I’m sorry to disturb you, but she will be making a lot of racket for the next few days. We apologize in advance for this, and we would like to invite you over between the hours of 6-8 on ____ to meet the child disrupting your sleep, eat some pizza, and pick up your emergency supply kit!” Go to the dollar store and pick up some candy, some ear plugs, some of those travel sized packets of Tylenol and hit the liquor store and grab some of those airplane sized bottle of booze. Print up some little cards that read “Thank you for understanding, if you need your plants watered or your mail picked up when you go on vacation, consider this your IOU.” Stick all these little prizes in a ziploc and hand them out when people stop by. I think having pizza and soda or beer is a nice gesture too. Explain to your daughter that she is a big girl now and that everyone needs their sleep. Hell, you can even pick her up some cheapy coloring books and bubbles and stuff for when she stays in her own bed for a few nights. Introduce her to her neighbors and say “Hey, ____, this is Mr. ____ and we need to be quiet and not wake up the building so he can get his sleep.” If you make it like a party I think your daughter will be a lot more willing to cooperate.If your neighbors are creepy, I would just leave the goody bags and the flyers without the stopping by invitation at their doorsteps. Now, your neighbors may have kids or know kids and they were once kids themselves, so they should be understanding without all this pomp and circumstance, but being woken up is not fun so all of this extra junk is just so they don’t complain to your landlord. Let us know how it goes!