A few days ago it hit me…My son is 7 months old and for the past month has been waking up 3 times each night – AT LEAST. He went from being an amazing sleeper to a not so great sleeper. It’s funny how when you’re a parent you notice changes like this, but it takes weeks and weeks of it being bad to realize that you need to do something about it. So, I thought….”How do I fix this?”
And, after doing some research, my fears were confirmed. My son should only be waking up a MAX of 2 times a night. And what was the solution? What do I do if he wakes up? Let him cry!? I knew that was the answer. It’s something I have told my clients time and time again…but it’s not what I wanted to hear! I’ve been there with other parents, I remember seeing the pain on their faces and hearing in their voices how incredibly difficult it was. Two thoughts ran through my head…
- How did I let this happen?
- How am I going to ignore my sweet little boy when he is crying for me?
He was waking up to eat, but he didn’t need to eat 3,4, or 5 times in the middle of the night. He was capable of sleeping longer. So, why was he getting up so many times if he wasn’t hungry? Well, it’s super nice to cuddle with mom and have the comfort of feeding even if not hungry. We snuggle and talk while he’s eating…and that is MUCH better than sleep!
So, I knew what I had to do, and that night went we started our new plan. It went like this…
7:30pm – Bedtime
11:30pm – 1st wake up – I fed him as usual (4 hours straight was pretty good)
1:00am – 2nd wake up – uh oh….he did not need to eat again.
So…I knew it was time to ignore him. I laid in bed staring at him through his monitor. Staring at his face crying out for me. He looked back into the monitor like he was looking into my soul…begging me to save him. And I almost did several times. I made excuses as to why I should get up and get him. BUT (with some encouragement from dad) I stuck it out. He cried for 25 minutes.
It felt like an eternity…It felt awful! But it was what he needed from me. He put himself back to sleep. He then slept until 5:30am. Each night after that he has only cried for a few minutes before putting himself back to sleep. Now, just a few days later, he is sleeping 6-7 hours straight.
Often times as parents, when we do what is best for our child, it’s not fun in the moment. Our kids know exactly what type of cry and what words to say to break our hearts, and make us cave!
Why is it SO hard in the moment??
- We second guess ourselves constantly… ‘This can’t be the answer! There must be a better way!’
- We don’t think of the long-term positive effects we will see if we stick it out.
- All we see is the person we love most in the world miserable.
I know that if a behavior is continuing that my child is getting something he wants. I know that in order to reduce that behavior, the right thing to do will make that behavior worse than it’s ever been. I know that the first few days will be awful. I know that if I’m consistent it will get better. But knowing all of those things doesn’t make it easy.
Kuddos to all you awesome parents out there sticking through the tough times to teach your children valuable skills!
Can you relate? I’d love to hear what parenting wins you’ve had lately!
Need help figuring out your child’s new behavior? Call us at 740-298-7078 Ext. 1 or click here to get started!