By Jill Smokler
Author of Confessions of a Scary Mommy
There are no rights and no wrongs in parenthood. We all learn and we go and do the best we can and that’s called success. We’re talking about raising children, after all, not taking the SATS.
Actually, I take it back. There are wrongs and where sleeping is concerned, and I did them all. If there are any mothers out there struggling with sleeping, or wondering how to best approach it, I’d like to share with you exactly what I did so you can do the complete opposite.
Force your newborn to sleep on top of you. I couldn’t breastfeed Lily, and was convinced that she would never bond with me because of it. To achieve a sense of closeness, I forced her to sleep on top of me during her early days, which of course resulted in nothing but a newborn who couldn’t sleep unless she was on top of me. It took months and months to undo.
Don’t make them cry. Ever. Despite my name, I am quite a pussy when it comes to hearing my children cry, especially when I know they can be soothed simply by my presence. The minute they let out the slightest whimper, I’d be in their room rescuing them. (From a restful sleep.)
Don’t set any type of routine. I always thought it was annoying when people couldn’t leave the house because their kid needed to nap at a particular time and vowed that my children would be flexible. And, they are, right up until 11PM.
Fall asleep with your kids. Evan sleeps in his own room, but only if I’m with him, in his twin bed, crammed up against the wall.
Become an accidental co-sleeper. Most nights, at least two out of three of my children end up in my bed. It happened out of laziness (it’s so much easier to just let them in bed than walk all the way down the hall,) but is now a pattern that we just can’t escape.
Get them used to sleeping in the car. So they only, you know, want to sleep in the car.
Have no plan. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of parent, but sleep is the rare exception where I think a plan is valuable. There are a gazillion books on different sleep methods for a reason–they work. It may have been wise to have read one.
So, there you go. Heed my warnings and I see many restful nights ahead for you and your children.