Sleep: A New Hope, A New Plan

I’ve written so often about our sleep issues that most of you recognize I cycle between trying to “do something”, and taking on a Zen-like acceptance of my lot. Unfortunately, DH doesn’t do the acceptance part very well. The issue is truly straining our relationship and so, when I stumbled upon a thread over at my beloved MotheringDotCommune, I decided to once again seek some advice.

What I got was several insistent pleas that I check out Mary Sheedy Kurcinka‘s newest book, “Sleepless in America“. She’s the author of “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles“, one of the first GD books I ever read, and “Raising Your Spirited Child” which I was given as a hand-me-down but, as I knew before I read it, did not apply to my kids. It was, however, very useful for giving me terms to better describe myself and my temperament (I am a “verbal processor”; I think things through by talking about them).

Generally I loathe sleep books b/c the vast majority of them are just shoddy science IMO, or not even an attempt at science. When I read that 33% of babies have sleep problems I have to ask myself what norm they were using as a standard. Though crib sleeping works just fine for many babies it is far from the normal, natural environment in which human infants have evolved. Nothing could be more antithetical to an infant primate’s needs than placing him in a caged bed, separated from any physical contact with an adult, and in a separate room no less. I find the notion of sleep training to be rather ridiculous, and feel it should actually be called “convenience training” since it usually revolves around the goal of allowing the parents to absolve themselves of any responsibilities for 12 hours each day.

But I digress…suffice it to say that enough of my fellow AP’ing, cosleeping, GD’ing mamas recommended Kurcinka’s book that my curiosity was piqued. On Monday evening after I put DS to bed at 8 pm (ironically, on a “good night”) I headed up to Chapters, seven blocks away, to pick up a copy of the book. I dove into it that night and realized, to my growing dismay, that I couldn’t have done more to mess up the kids’ sleep if I had deliberately tried!

The only thing stopping me from bursting into tears with each chapter at the utter failure as a mother I discovered I’d been was the growing sense of hope that we might be able to live a normal life – when kids go to bed before 9, and couples have some “alone time” before going to bed together, then rising and actually being fed, dressed, and out of the house before 1 pm.

According to this book I need to do three things:

  1. wake them up the same time every morning
  2. serve meals and snacks at the same times each day
  3. create a specific sort of bedtime routine that I must stick to every night

I confess that, while I tried “waking them up early” in the past, I haven’t done it at the exact same time, and I haven’t given it enough time. The meal issue makes sense, particularly since DD often skips dinner and then wants a meal at 9:30 PM.

So we are going to give this plan a try for a couple of weeks. I’ll be posting regular updates to let you know how it goes.

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