Around six months of age, my husband and I sleep trained our boys because nobody in our family was getting enough sleep. We were all miserable and sleep training changed that for us. After reading Pantley, Weissbluth, Mindell, and Ferber, we found Ferber’s explanations of schedules and sleep patterns to be most helpful to us. Unfortunately for him, Ferber is known as the CIO King when in fact, he believes CIO should be the measure of last resort AFTER you have fixed all other sleep issues.
The biggest lesson I learned from the book is humans thrive on schedule. I looked at my own life. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at roughly the same time every day. I go to bed and get up at about the same time. I have a bedtime routine where I floss and brush my teeth, talk to my husband, then read a book. After thinking about this and reading Ferber, my husband and I have been committed schedulers for our kids. They go to group day care where they eat and nap at the same time every day and we keep the same schedule at home on weekends. Bedtime is always 7:30. Our nighttime sleep issues have been minimal, with exceptions for illness and teething.
It was smooth sailing for two years, until we recently separated the boys into their own rooms at nap time. Sleeping apart, we found the boys napped much longer. Then we spent two weeks on vacation together… two weeks where the boys started suddenly sleeping later and napping longer, both welcome changes for a vacation schedule. You can probably guess what happened next. The boys started staying up later and later. Even though bedtime lights out is at 7:30, they’re in there talking and singing until as late at 10PM.
It happened so gradually that we didn’t notice there was an issue. A month ago, they were asleep by 7:45 and now it’s between 8:30 and 10PM. I consulted Ferber and of course, there is a section for kids who are up too late at night. And I was not surprised to read this is caused by kids napping too late or sleeping in too late. Both of which my boys are doing.
We are now in the processing of adjusting the boys’ schedule to get back on track. (None of the changes including crying, before anyone flames me.) I can not stress enough how happy I was to have an expert that I trusted that I could consult on what to do. Once my boys were sleeping through the night, I thought we were done dealing with sleep issues. Our recent experience has shown me that worrying about my kids’ sleep is an important and ongoing part of parenthood.
Since my boys are still happy and sleeping well, you may wonder why we even care that they don’t go to sleep right away. Well, two toddlers unsupervised in a room can do quite a bit of damage. I wrote on my personal blog yesterday about the new fun nighttime past time they use to whittle away those bedtime awake hours – taking off their pajamas. If anything can make me consult a sleep expert, it’s the possibility of two un-potty trained toddlers stripping leaving me to clean up the mess.