I’ve said many times before that sleep is not particularly a strength of Sam’s. He didn’t sleep through the night regularly until he was close to a year old and, even now (at 3.5) we still get a middle-of-the-night wake up call about three (sometimes four or five) times a week.
Part of the problem is, admittedly, our lack of consistency when it comes to bedtime etc. In the past, it has worked out OK for us to put Sam to bed later than most of his buddies (usually some time between 9:30 and 10), because it has meant that he sleeps in (until roughly 8AM – which allows both Jeff and I to get ready for work in peace) and still takes a two or three hour nap most afternoons. BUT, as we prepare for a new baby and a new normal, I’m starting to panic about this “routine.” I know that Jeff and I will want a little more quiet time together in the evenings, and – since I’ll already likely be getting up several times a night with a newborn – I definitely don’t want to worry about Sam waking in the middle of the night too.
The switch to a big boy bed with cozy sheets and blankets (shown above) seems to have helped a little; but, today, I’m hoping to harness the power of community, and get some advice for breaking some bad sleep habits and starting new ones with my boy… Will you help?
Our biggest struggles are:
a.) Getting Sam to actually GO TO BED without a struggle. Most nights, regardless of the time, it takes him close to thirty minutes + several trips out of the bed or one of us having to go in there for him to actually fall asleep. We’ve tried an earlier bedtime, a later bedtime, a noise machine, a nightlight, allowing him to read in bed, etc. etc. etc. The only things that have semi-helped have been this bedtime routine chart and saying we will come check on him after he falls asleep (when I just say I will come back, I think he actually waits up for me), but it is still an almost nightly battle that leaves me exhausted and ready to flop instead of making the most of the little time I have.
b.) Getting Sam to sleep all night in his OWN BED. Again, the bigger bed has seemed to help; but, there are still many nights when tiny feet wander in to our room sometime between 2 and 4AM and – eventually – take over the entire bed. Bad habit or not, anyone that has ever had a child that doesn’t sleep well can probably agree that sometimes you just do things to survive. It is SO much easier to just put him in our bed and go right back to sleep than to begin the hour long fight to get him to stay in his own bed. That said, now that I’m pregnant, sharing our Queen bed with an extra body (and a body pillow) is far less than ideal. Jeff and I aren’t getting the quality of sleep that we need, and I suspect that Sam isn’t either. Plus, beginning in March, the baby will be sleeping in our room, so I will want to limit noise/contact in there as much as possible – especially from a wild big brother.
Should we drop the afternoon nap all together even though he clearly still needs it? (Even when I tell him it’s just a “quiet time” and encourage him to play with toys, he almost always ends up asleep.) Heck, Momma still needs that time too! What kind of crazy gives up a nap?
What time should I – reasonably – be putting my 3.5 year old to bed? Admittedly, our lifestyle doesn’t allow for a super early (like 6 or 7) bedtime, and I’m nervous that an earlier bed time = an earlier wake-up time which is not ideal. BUT, I realize some of that will be changing once we add a new baby to the mix in a few months anyway so…
In general, what has worked in your house to get your non-sleeper to sleep easily and well? I’d love to hear your best tips and resources!
P.S. I love this post on sleep – “Mommy Will You Lay with Me?” from Your Modern Family