My daughter is a champion sleeper…this month. Some months are great; I wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, so happy that my toddler slept through the night again. “This must be it,” I think to myself every time. “We’re over that hurdle and we’ll get to sleep again!” And then the 2-year molars start coming in, or she picks up a virus at daycare, or she just goes through a clingy phase.
When Julia was a newborn – in fact, the first 9 months or so of her life, I maybe got two good full nights of sleep. I read somewhere that special hormones allow a new mother to wake suddenly when her baby cries and then fall quickly back into a deep sleep when baby is back down. This must be true because I would not have survived that first year otherwise! Julia was a great napper. She took her naps at the same times every day without fail. But she just would not sleep through the night.
We tried so many different things: swaddling, sleeping suits, noise machines, a dark room, a night light. We read books and went to sleep training classes. We tried the Cry It Out method with breaks and the Sleep Lady Shuffle. And finally, one magical day, I woke up at 7am realizing I hadn’t been up once the entire night!
I don’t know what changed or what we had finally done right. We were just so happy our little girl was finally letting us sleep! This lasted three glorious months. And then we went on vacation.
There are so many times as a parent that we wonder if things will ever get better. Will our baby ever sleep through the night? Or, will our toddler finally listen and obey directions? Or, when will my preschooler stop having nightmares? I’ve found in this very short time as a parent and the past decade observing nieces and nephews, every child goes through these phases. The perfect baby who starts sleeping through the night at 2 months will start teething at some point. We can’t control nature or a child’s behavior. What we can control, though, is our attitude and approach. As our children grow, we realize phases pass. Bed wetting eventually stops. Toddlers become tweens who need to be coaxed out of bed in the morning. So, give yourself a little grace right now. While you’re trying to be patient with your little one, be patient with yourself at this stage in your life. And when this phase ends, be sure to breathe and celebrate. The next challenge will surely arrive before you know it.