Believe me when I say I am pretty much a stickler for sleep training. But as with all training methods, at different times, life throws us some complex curves and we have to get creative, be flexible and figure out how to get back on track. Let me add, however, that I am equally a stickler for sleep training in the right way, at the right time and under the right circumstances. Having said that, it doesn’t mean each family can’t come up with their own variation that works for them and their wee ones.
Here’s a bit of backstory on how we recently adjusted our training. Wellington was recently very sick and had to spend some time in a children’s hospital (thankfully, he is completely well now). While he was in the hospital, I slept in his bed each night until he was well. Added to that was the fact that this obviously put a lot of worry and stress on our family and really affected JR. Even prior to Wells’ stay in the hospital, JR was already waking many times a night and running in my bed. With three kids four and under (and generally being exhausted most of the time) I must admit I would just embrace him under the covers and we’d all go back to sleep. As you can imagine, this is a slippery slope and before long, the occasional night time trek to our bedroom began to happen every night and my hubby was pushed out onto the sofa. If anyone has slept with a toddler they’ll know they have an amazing ability to take up the entire bed!
When everyone was back home safe and sound, we had the problem of two boys wanting to sleep in my bed, JR still recovering from his worry about Wells, and Wells still recovering from the experience of being sick and staying in a hospital.
And then it happened! (I’d like to say it was a stroke of genius, but it was really more like a touch of serendipity combined with a little creativity) Daron and I decided to let them sleep together, but in their room, thus giving them the security of each other, getting Wells out of the crib in a much easier transition and leaving nobody (but my hubby, of course) in my bed.
We were completely unsure of how this was going to go the first night. With great trepidation, after reading them stories, we gave them each a kiss and left them in the bed, bed guard and hypnotising sound machine a-blazing. We were so sure that it wasn’t going to work, but it did. As it did the second night, and the third, and we are now a week in! It was, apparently, exactly what they needed.
I can’t tell you what a beautiful sight it is to see, these two brothers, 4 and 2, sleeping side by side, all snuggled and secure. I could stare at them for hours.
I am clearly not saying this is a solution for everyone, but I think that when it comes to sleep, whatever you are dealing with (small spaces, big families, nightmares, fatigue, stress….), it is important to get creative. I will say, though, that I sleep trained both boys when they were around 7-8 months old, and as a result they are great at putting themselves to sleep. Which, in a situation of bed sharing, is a great great tool to have.
So if you are suffering from sleep deprivation and it is anarchy each night, think about some creative solutions. I’d love to hear what worked and what totally didn’t!