Some kids just don’t like going to bed.
Jack is now two and a bit. And in those two short years, I’ve done ‘sleep training’ of some kind with him on eight separate occasions. That’s roughly every three months, except that I didn’t do it until he was 10 months, so since then it’s exactly every two months. And sometimes it takes two months. So basically, I’ve been sleep training him constantly for-BLOODY-ever.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘You must not be very good at it.’
You’re absolutely right. I’m shit.
Partly because I’m on my own and knackered, and partly because the most recent of his regressions saw him climbing into bed beside me and cuddling up which, let’s face it, is lovely.
But like any sensible adult, I would like to get a decent night’s sleep every now and again (I probably average a couple a week, which isn’t too bad). So, I do go through these prolonged periods of ‘sleep training’ – never the hard core ‘you will stay in there and cry until you learn that nobody’s coming*’, but more the gently gently ‘you will probably give up soon because you’ve had less experience at boring another human into unconsciousness’ type.
*No judgement against cry-it-out mums, I’m just soft.
But at what point do you just accept that your child might not ever like going to bed?
When I talk to a lot of other mums about this, their replies often start with ‘have you tried…’. I can see this ‘have you tried’ forming on their lips before I’ve even finished speaking. It’s so keen to shoot out that they can barely concentrate on what I’m saying. I often keep talking and talking (much like I’m typing and typing, here) to stop the smug (accidentally-and-non-intentionally-smug-but-smug-nonetheless) phrase from tumbling out. They have found success! They have a child who climbs joyfully into bed and sleeps blissfully for 11 hours. SOMETIMES 12! And by gum, they want to share it.
(Yes, I said ‘by gum’. Did I mention I’m tired?)
And while I appreciate their advice (I don’t, only writing that in case they read this), the answer is always, ALWAYS yes. Eight times, people. I’ve tried everything. Admittedly and as aforementioned, probably a bit crap-ly, but I really have tried.
And I’ll keep plodding on with it in the hopes of Jack suddenly transforming into a child who climbs joyfully into bed and sleeps blissfully for 11 hours. SOMETIMES 12.
But in case that doesn’t happen, I just wanted to give a shout-out to all the other mums with babies / toddlers / kids that just don’t like going to bed, or staying in bed, or sleeping past 5am, or generally letting their parents have any decent sleep. I know you’re out there, you’re just keeping quiet to keep the ‘have-you-tried’s at bay. But I feel you.
Yours in sleepy solidarity, a terrible-at-sleep-training-but-brilliant-at-bedtime-story-telling mum, doing her best.
Other times I’ve posted about sodding sleep: Are you a Bad Mother if you Can’t Make your Baby Sleep? | The desperate mother’s guide to making your baby sleep… | Sleep when they sleep. And other bullshit parenting advice…