Tuesday, September 25

Good Night, Sleep Tight

Last night we tucked the girls into bed at 7pm and this morning they woke up around 6am. Why would I think that would be significant enough to blog about? Because it's highly unusual in our household ... well, ever since Naomi arrived 17 months ago anyway!

When we had Abigail she was a total dream-baby when it came to sleep. From just 3 months she slept 12 hours a night, could self-soothe and until she was almost 2 years old she had two long naps during the day as well. As I've mentioned before on this subject, Naomi has not followed in her sisters footsteps, in fact she has given us a greater understanding of why sleep deprivation is such an effective form of torture!

For some reason, second time round we totally missed the optimum window of opportunity when it came to teaching Naomi to put herself to sleep as a little baby. With travelling back to the UK for a month at 5 months, then us all being sick for almost a month, Mark being in PNG for 3 weeks and the girls sharing a room, there appeared to be limited opportunity to let her work it out or cry it out herself and we managed to get ourselves into a rut. Naomi would only fall asleep on us and then we finally got her into bed, when she did wake up she would freak out as we weren't there anymore. Bedtime was between 7.30pm-10.30pm, depending on her, with multiple wake-ups a night ... we were so tired, a large majority of nights she ended up in our bed as we just couldn't keep our eyes open any longer!

After almost a year and a half of disturbed sleep and with a window of undisturbed opportunity we were ready to take action. We had tried the controlled-crying technique once before ... Day 1 = 15 mins crying, Day 2 = 40 mins crying ... by Day 5 and 2 hours non-stop crying, we gave up ... it clearly wasn't working and was totally traumatising the other three members of the family.

I can't remember where I saw this book advertised but I ordered The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight from the library and thought I'd see what her suggestion was. Rather than listening to Naomi screaming from a different room, her method allows you to be in the room and reassure your children ... and we were willing to give it a go!

Three weeks ago today was our first night of 'sleep training'. Skeptical but determined! It still cracks me up that some kids need to be trained to sleep but I am here to testify that it's true!  It was definitely a family effort though. Poor Abigail has taken it well. The first couple of nights she got to stay up late with Mark and watch movies which was a treat, later that week she was telling us 'I don't want a late night, I want to go to bed!' After that she was really good about going to sleep in our bed and either moving herself or letting us move her later on! So here's a little glimpse as to what happened ...

Day 1, sitting by the cot, took about an hour and a half but I felt unnaturally calm about it and being able to see that Naomi wasn't hurt but just being stubborn made it a little easier than just hearing her cry from the other room, not really knowing what was going on. She was also determined that night and fell asleep many times standing up with her head and arms hanging over the side of her cot. It was just that her legs kept giving way and waking her up.

Days 2-5, progressively got shorter and shorter. I went in on Day 2 a lot more confident and by Day 3 it was just getting boring waiting for her to pipe down and go to sleep! The funniest thing was on these nights, she had learned not to stand up after Day 1, so she sat down and wobbled like a Weeble for 20+ mins at a time ... it was hilarious!

By Week 2, we were sitting by the door (and had swapped the dining table chair for something more comfortable) and were out of the room within 20 mins ... she was usually asleep within 10! Night wake ups were a little more difficult though.

By 2 1/2 weeks, Abigail was back the room and we were putting both girls to bed together at the same time and sitting within view in the hallway. Unless Abigail woke up in the night needing the bathroom, Naomi was undisturbed or could self-soothe back to sleep.

The last couple of nights we have just put them to bed together and that's been it! Which has been unreal and wonderful all at the same time! Naomi has cried hard but literally just for a few minutes then she has totally zonked. Last night Abigail came out twice to tell me what a good girl Naomi was because she was already asleep ... promptly waking her up each time but not for too long!!

Obviously we still have a little tweaking to do, with the night wake-ups and some earlier mornings than we would like. However difficult these last few weeks have been (and we've had to back out from different evening commitments in order to see it through), bedtime and nighttime for us is now as different as night and day and life is becoming a lot more pleasant for all of us! I've even got to enjoy a couple of evenings with my husband again ... woohoo!! I never believed it would only take three weeks but it did! Thank you Sleep Lady!

1 comment:

  1. Well done you! We had a lot of problems with Zac (and he still wakes easily) I can totally understand the not having a window of opportunity as we were worried about leaving him to cry as the walls are made of paper and I worried the whole block would be awake..