A big fear that some of my new clients have when they decide to sleep train, is that their little one will become too dependent on routines and structure when it comes to their sleep. They’re concerned that their household will become absolutely stuck at home every afternoon and evening from now until their kiddo starts kindergarten.
Sound about right?
I totally get it! I can see how that assumption could be made. Sleep consultants preach about routines and awake windows being the ticket to quality rest. Buuuuut, I’m happy to tell you that having to kiss your social life goodbye is a misconception. Sure, things look different now that you have a little one in tow, but life isn’t over.
The Balancing Act
In fact, I encourage having a life because as moms, we need our support systems, friends, relationships, and to just feel like ourselves again. And spoiler: Sometimes that means saying yes to fun things, even if it’s in the evening.
Something I pride myself on as a Sleep Consultant is heavily considering the parents’ mental wellness in their custom sleep plan. Sometimes we have similar sleep goals, but different ways of reaching that goal - and that’s A-Okay! If a preschooler should cut their nap because they’re bouncing around their room for hours each night, but Mom isn’t ready to give up naptime because it’s the only consistent break she gets, I respect that. If you need it, consider this your permission slip to make yourself a priority too! We can’t be expected to always put ourselves on the back burner, and not feel resentment and frustration bubble up at some point. I’ve been there! Put yourself first from time to time, okay?
You’re allowed to live your life, do something fun, say yes to something new, and be a bit flexible with your baby’s schedule now and then.
The Key to Having It All
You might be thinking “Good pep talk Andrea, but how can I actually make this happen without completely regretting my decision the next day?” I hear you, and I’ll share with you a super simple secret that is so freeing to parents who feel like they’re trapped by their baby’s sleep routine. Let’s talk about the 80/20 rule.
If you’ve never heard of it, it’s easy! You follow your babe’s sleep schedule 80% of the time, while allocating some wiggle room if needed for the other 20%. This still respects your little
one’s need for structured, consistent sleep, but also keeps you from feeling like a shut in. Trust me when I tell you that it makes a BIG difference when you’re feeling cooped up or even sad about always saying no to things, or carrying around guilt every time you do end up being out when your baby would be sleeping.
Maybe it’s about doing something fun during the day and for once not rushing home to ensure that your little one sleeps in their exact crib, with the exact sleep sack, and exact white noise. Instead they enjoy a nap in the carrier or supervised in their stroller.
Or it’s about taking an evening walk as a family on a beautiful evening. How do you make that work without it backfiring? Put them in their jammies before you go for your walk, knowing they’ll probably fall asleep while you’re out. When you come home, do a top up feed and put them to bed. Maybe you’re excited to enjoy a summer BBQ with friends and not have to leave before the burgers are even off the grill. Enjoy the evening, and don’t feel bad about letting your kiddo sleep in the next morning. It gets to be that easy!
The Big Reveal
Here’s one of the (endless) reasons why teaching your baby how to sleep independently can open up your life. It gives you back the freedom you’ve been missing. I understand that sleep training isn’t for every family, but I know because I’ve talked to so many of you that you’ve been at your whits end, feeling trapped, and really missing the life you used to have. Obviously things look different since having a baby, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
When kids have good sleep skills, they know how to adapt. They go back to basics because they know what to do - even if things are different. And when they’re already well rested (because they know how to sleep!) they can handle changes better because they’re not already running on empty. While I will always preach about the importance of having a solid sleep routine, when a little one is experienced in knowing how to fall asleep on their own, they’re pretty good at figuring out how to do it even when they’re not at home.
I also have something so exciting to share with you! After many, many requests for newborn sleep help, I put everything I know about helping newborns sleep into a downloadable guide to help out all my new parents, and soon to be parents! This guide is gentle (ya know, because they’re a newborn!), yet effective in helping your little one not get overtired (a BIG sleep hurdle when they’re brand new), and get those longer stretches in at night. Know a new parent? There’s no better gift than more sleep.
It’s going to change everything about your newborn experience, if I say so myself.
Find the newborn sleep guide here to take a peek! I can’t wait!