Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sleeping Woes

We were not blessed with good sleepers.  All of our kids had reflux as infants and I believe this greatly impacted their sleep the first year.  Unfortunately, their sleeping problems continued well past that year. Our oldest finally started sleeping through the night consistently a few months after her turned two (and just in time for the new baby to arrive).  Our middle child beat him by an entire year, but just a month before our little one came along.  The youngest was in the middle, finally deciding at 17 months that he was ready to sleep all night.  When you add that all up, it was about 5 years of not sleeping through the night for me.  I tried desperately to correct their sleeping issues.  I read the books, internet articles, and watched a few DVD's.  I had no luck with any of it.  Crying it out wasn't really an option for me, as I always felt horrible on the few occasions I did let them scream and there really was something wrong with them.  Eventually all of them began to sleep and I couldn't have been more excited....until we moved.

Two out of our three kiddos sleep all night.  The oldest and the youngest are doing great.  The princess, not so much.  She was a great sleepier in her crib.  She was potty trained through the night and I was optimistic she would continue on this path.  When we moved, we transitioned her out of her crib and into the toddler bed.  I knew from experience that this wasn't the easiest of transitions, but I was hoping that it would be some short-lived trouble and we'd all go back to sleeping through the night after a week or so.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case.  I knew we were going to be in trouble when we showed her her room and her first reaction was, "I can get out of my bed all by myself!"

We have tried many different approaches to this problem.  At first we would just put her back in bed multiple times a night hoping that it would pass.  Once we realized this was not going to work, I got online and bought an owl that is programmable.  I can set the time that is acceptable for her to get out of bed and the cute little owl will turn green.  Surely this was going to be the answer to our problem.  While she loved the owl, it was not keeping her in bed all night as we had hoped.  We would send her back to her room multiple times and eventually at 6:30 that owl would turn green and she'd rush up to show us.  That's great, if only she'd stay in bed until the darn thing actually turned green.

I know that these things can take some time, so we continue to use the owl, but after awhile I thought I'd try an incentive...the sleeping fairy!  She usually eats those ideas up.  The concept was simple.  If she stayed in bed all night and waited until her owl turned green in the morning, the sleeping fairy would visit and leave a lollipop for her.  Oh, was she excited.  I knew I was onto something!  First night, up and down like usual.  This continued.  It's been three weeks and the sleeping fairy has been able to visit twice.  Ugh.

Time to re-evaluate once again.  We still use the owl, which is working a bit better come morning time, but not keeping her in bed throughout the night.  Since we have been using the time-out stickers during the day, it has worked in helping her understand her limits.  She does not like to take the stickers down and usually shapes up by the time there is only one sticker left.  I decided to give it a shot at bedtime.  She now has three time-out stickers next to her bed.  If she gets up, she loses a sticker.  So far, she's only lost one per night, though it's only been a few days.  If she loses all of her stickers, her animals must be taken out of her bed.  She loves to sleep with them, so I'm hoping it's motivation enough to stay put.

Figuring out what is motivational to her has been a challenge.  With our oldest, he had a sticker chart next to his bed.  He received a sticker each night he stayed in bed and once the chart was full, he was rewarded.  We had some rough nights, but he soon figured out that he really wanted to earn that sticker.  She is not so into that when it comes to bedtime.  I like to try to make things positive when we can, but it is not doing the trick with sleeping for her.  This freedom is too much!  Last night she did not get up until right before six when she had to use the bathroom, but she went back to bed for another hour.  This was great.  I made a huge deal about how proud of her I was.  She glowed with excitement.  I'm praying we have another good night.

For those of you out there struggling with sleep, know you are not alone.  I think all of those books and DVD's are bull-honky.  We have followed a strict bedtime routine, kept their bedtimes consistent, and done all of the "right" things, but all of our kids have had issues and go through periods of time when they don't sleep well.  At first, I wondered what we were doing wrong, but as time has gone on, I've realized that it's really not our fault.  This too shall pass and soon I'll be waiting up late at night, unable to sleep because the kids are out on their own.  I've now realized that once I became a mother, the guarantee of a good night's sleep has gone out the window.  I'm glad I "rested up" all of those years!

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