5 Stages of Accepting Toddler Sleep

For the past few weeks your little one has been on an indeterminate pattern of either sleeping through the night with not a peep, or waking between 1 and 3 times seemingly inconsolable.  Each time they wake it takes anywhere between 30 seconds of rocking/singing and 3 hours of everything you can possibly think of to get them to finally wear themselves out enough to return to sleep.  Last night was no exception to this new sleep pattern.

11:30p – Your toddler decides that your 2 hours of sleep is enough for the night.  Not his fault that you don’t go to bed at 7p when they do, right? Besides, his needs are more important than your own, and if he’s not sleeping then, well…no one is.

So, after 10 minutes of wailing coming from the room across the hall it’s clear that your little one will not be putting themselves back to sleep.  Enter Mama.

You try to offer water, turn on the night-light, check the diaper, sing the usual Twinkle Twinkle…all with the quick hope that this will be only a 1 wake-up night.  You place your little one back in bed not-quite-asleep and return to your own hoping their fussing will subside as they drift back into dreamland. {Denial}

11:45p – Well shit.  That didn’t stick.

This time both you and the Hubby get up.  Re-check diaper, rub J’s legs – arms – belly hoping its growing pains, offer water, offer food – which he takes 30 minutes later, sing songs, talk calmly, play music, play white noise.  J is pulling at his jammies so you un-zip them to make sure he’s not sweating…he’s not, but you blow on his belly which sends him into a round of sudden laughter!  You can’t help but laugh too at your little one’s total randomness.  10 minutes of blowing down his shirt followed by laughter and “yeah’s”…but still no eye rubs or any sign that your little one is ready to return to sleep.  Hubby has to work tomorrow, so you let him go back to bed and you retire to the living room to walk and sing and walk and sing. {something resembling Anger}

12:30a – Ok. Your legs are about to give out and yet your little one is now more awake than ever and now is fighting you even harder.  Time to try the TV babysitter/hopefully the light will put him to sleep like it has you so many times…At least then you’ll get to sit down and close your eyes, right?  {Bargaining}

 1:30a – While you could easily sleep in this chair, your little one hasn’t so much as yawned in the last hour.  And the strange cartoons on at this time of night are making you seriously wonder how things like this make it on TV.  You realize you may not get to sleep at all the rest of the night.  You’ve already tried putting him to bed 2 more times only to be reminded by screaming that he clearly isn’t going to do that.  Nice try Mama. {Depression}

2:00a – You’re finally so exhausted that you resign yourself to listening to some screaming if it means you can lay down in your own bed.  You put your little munchkin in his bed with his blankie and his stuffie, close the door and let the screaming ensue.  As long as you know he’s safe, not hungry, not poopy then you are OK with letting him have a little scream therapy – aka: wear himself out by yelling.  {Acceptance}

2:30a – One last effort finally pays off.  You snuggle your little monster one more time as he finally drifts into sleep land once again…

Only to wake at his normal 6am.  WTH?!  Clearly missing out on 3 hours of sleep hasn’t effected his sleep timeline in the slightest. Damn…

And then you remember…only 10 short weeks until you’ll have 2 of them. Thank goodness you don’t have to work tomorrow, even though you know it’ll still be a day full of cranky Toddler and sleepy Mama.  Then again you wouldn’t trade the extra snuggles for the world. 

5 stages


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