Lots of parents say to me that they haven’t committed to sleep training because they want to have spontaneity and freedom. They don’t want to commit to a schedule.
How do you feel at 3 am when you are up for the third time? You have committed to that schedule by not committing to a nap and bedtime schedule. Is it serving you? Your child? The rest of your family?
What if you knew you had 2.5 hours off during every single day? Would that be a hardship? Would you hate being able to take a shower, return phone calls, place a grocery order, or even watch Netflix?
It’s true that you’d have to have your free time at home. You couldn’t choose to take it in a different location each day.
But you could sit still. Or even… lie down on your very own couch. Close your eyes for a few minutes.
You know how people say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?
You won’t get a different result with your child’s sleep if you don’t make some changes. And it’s true that you will give up some things – freedom to go out at a moment’s notice.
But most of those reluctant parents forget that they get something else in return – a different sort of freedom. A freedom to have a scheduled break every single day. The freedom to sleep through the night (because a well-rested baby on a predictable nap schedule is much more likely to sleep through the night). The freedom to relax in the evenings, knowing you have 11 hours before you have to parent again. The freedom to connect with your other loved ones, knowing your brain is much more capable of love when it’s getting the rest and the breaks it needs. The freedom to exercise, knowing your body has energy to burn when its getting the rest it needs.
I was a parent who planned to be home for every single nap, even when it was my second child and it meant limiting excursions for my older child. As a single parent, she didn’t have the option to stay out without me, either, unless I hired a babysitter for one of them. With the cost of chidlcare in NYC, that was an extremely rare treat.
But we quickly adjusted our expectations of how much we could accomplish in a day, and soon learned to relish the scheduled breaks in our day. I was actually worried we would be tired when we switched to only one nap a day for my little one… but that, too, worked out just fine. And now that she’s outgrown her nap entirely, we still plan to be home for quiet time – we all need it. Me too. Moving to Mexico has helped me remember that the quality of my life -- and my children's lives -- are higher when I try to accomplish less.
So give it a shot. Try a nap schedule for a month and see if your quality of life isn’t better, too. If you don’t love it, you can always switch back.
Not sure what the ideal sleep schedule should look like for your child? Schedule a free discovery call and let’s discuss.
***Prices go up January 1 so don't delay.... but you have the flexibility to commit now and get coached later.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.