Can’t we parents just accept it as the nature of babies and children to resist sleep and wake up in the middle of the night… and adjust our life around it.

This is possible if  we do not resist (hey, we are asking them not to resist! Do as I say, not as I do!) If we choose to accept it, the inspiration for how to “be” with it will come! But not with resistance in the way!

I don’t say this smugly, I can certainly attest to the difficulty of this. I have always resisted it, but I can see that it is possible.

Regardless of the difficulty of it, we must acknowledge that bedtime in the modern world is “artificial” and that we are imposing “bedtime” on our children.

The issue is not a problem of our children, but rather a problem of our modern culture and societal expectations. What will they think if I DON”T sleep manipulate, and will my child never “self sleep regulate” if I don’t make them?

Before the invention of the light bulb, do you think getting kids to sleep was a huge issue? I would like to know if there is any written documentation of this struggle in “the old days”. Anyone?

And let’s acknowledge that we would not ourselves like to be treated the way children are treated at bedtime. Someone else telling us when our day is done?  Hah! Wouldn’t that bring up a nasty dose of internal counter will? Remember the scripture “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.”

Do the Sacred Laws not apply to children?

What about trusting our children to find their own bedtime rhythm?

Does mindful parenting end at bedtime?

I am by no means a master of  bedtime (I keep mentioning this to make sure that everyone understands that I am not offering “wise” advice, but rather a manic inquisition that will hopefully inspire more insights and questions…maybe even some answers with your help!).

I have tried both nursing my babies to sleep, walking them in a sling to sleep, being with them while they cry themselves to sleep…… and then as toddlers, I slept with them…I’ve let them cry themselves to sleep and yelled and stomped and had temper tantrums of my own, while trying to “sleep manipulate” them.

What I can say is that none of these methods worked, regardless of whether I tried them for days, months or years. No approach can guarantee that our children will sleep at our whim… and I tried opposite approaches with each of my children. Either sleep manipulating doesn’t work anyway, or I just suck at it!

Where Did I go Wrong?

Honestly, I think the basic missing pieces in my experience of  “sleep manipulation” was a nurturing bedtime experience:
1) not keeping a rhythm around sleep (not about time, but about what leads into bedtime aka: Sleep Frame “Waldorfian speak”)
2) being really frustrated and impatient “on the inside” and sometimes “on the outside” too,  thus causing my children to feel insecure
3) not fulfilling my children’s sense of trust that all is well in the world -following my own whims and impulses as they arise, instead of  modeling  a rhythm and embracing sleep myself (what am I doing right now writing at 12:12 am?) Is that healthy and should God jump in and force (sleep manipulate) me to bed?

Honestly, who cares if they slept easily? Looking back on my life, I would rather be able to say that we connected and shared our love with one another at the end of each day. Period.

What would happen if we as parents nurtured bedtime and trusted our children to adopt their own sleeping rhythm? Would all hell break loose?

This is the approach that I have been envisioning  for a long time but have been afraid to give into…how long will it take until they settle in…..how many late night binges (rebellions?) will they feel they need to have, to trust that I am handing them back their “sleep power”?

Also I have to come back  to the question of the nature of our society and what we do with our night time. In times past, did we live in little nuclear “boxes”, alone with just one other adult and computers and TV’s to entertain us? NO, so then what?

I assume that we just went to bed at the same time as our offspring because it was DARK! And did we not live with others? Was not our entertainment and leisure time about community? Come on Anthropologists enlighten me!

If you were sitting round a fire or kitchen hearth with other family members or members of your tribe or community, wouldn’t your kids just fall asleep on your lap or at your breast while you continued your conversation uninterrupted. Or maybe they just fell asleep where they landed? Aren’t beds just a modern construct too?

I have to say that I was a very happy child to fall asleep on a pile of “parkas” (uh, is that a Canadian term? I mean Jackets, eh! ) on nights out and about, with my parents at family gatherings or “nights out” at their friends.

Oh and pajamas…..I gave that one up months ago! At first I started with, “Ok fine, if you don’t want to wear your pajamas, then you have to at least wear tomorrow’s clean clothes to bed”. AND then I let that go too. Who says beds have to be clean? Seriously, don’t tell my mom.

Advertisements