Parenting is GD exhausting, and if you disagree, this post isn’t for you. Now that we have that settled… I have to say that sleep deprivation in the early days of parenting made me do crazy things. I absolutely love my sleep, which is why I have always been a big supporter of sleep training—the non-cruel kind, for any hand-wringing, pearl-clutchers out there.
When everyone in the house is well rested, you’re less likely to be at each other’s throats. Not getting enough sleep makes me wildly emotional. I may or may not have gotten into a blowup fight with my husband about the “tone” he used when he asked me where the remote was, but I decided to be the bigger person and let that one go.
My friends Bob and Adriana feel my pain. They are the very loving parents of a 17 month old that recently decided to begin sleep training. I saw their quest for sleep play out on my Facebook feed. Bob also decided to live tweet their sleep training process using the Ferber method, and I was hooked. Basically, Bob and Adriana planned to use Ferber-inspired “progressive waiting” to teach their adorable daughter Bowie to self-soothe. They also used this Sleeping Through the Night book as a resource.
I have used sleep training with both of my kids, and although it is awesome, it certainly isn’t easy. I felt Bob and Adriana’s pain as they went through a spectrum of sleep training emotions—frustration, fear, sadness, self-hatred, and ultimately acceptance.
Here’s how it unfolded:
And…drumroll, please…Night three:
Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see a Great American success story like this? Bob and Adriana are my heroes. Sleep training a baby is hard, and sleep training a toddler might be even harder.
But before you think sleep training to be a magic cure-all for the screaming monster in the next room, Bob gave me this realistic conclusion to the story:
I don’t feel like we are done yet since she wakes up at night and, until last night, we were sticking with our old night wake routine of bouncing her back to sleep. Now we are completely on the CIO bandwagon. But as far as the experience that was live-tweeted, it was heart wrenching and we had serious doubts in the first ten minutes, but in the end it’s worth it for everyone. Bowie is getting soooo much more sleep, is very happy to see us in the morning, and our nerves are much less ragged. I still have a concern about how dazed she can look when we check in on her while she is trying to go to sleep. Plus, we don’t have quite the same level of intimacy with her at night that we loved.
There are pluses and minuses to sleep training, but if you want to get a good night of sleep and set a self-soothing foundation for the rest of your kid’s life, I see it as a necessity. Bob and Adriana’s story kept me on the edge of my seat. I want to give them virtual hugs and send them a free night of babysitting while I’m at it.
(photo: Getty Images)