Posts Tagged ‘
cry it out ’
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Every parent has an opinion on this. And it’s happened to all of us at least a dozen times. It’s 2:00 a.m. Your four-year-old daughter comes scampering into your bedroom unannounced. You can’t see or hear her, as she’s standing silently in the dark. Afraid it may be a ghost, you hold your breath and peer into the darkness. You finally see her, of course, when she’s within arm’s length, frighteningly staring at you with a blank expression, like that girl in The Ring. At this point, a ghost would’ve scared you less. So what do you do?
There are two camps, and they are quite distinct. You either welcome your terrifying child into the bed, a spot religiously left vacant for her where your sex life used to lay, or you send her packing, refusing to bend to your children and their ongoing, selfish quest to invade your pillow space.
Even if you don’t have kids, you likely know a parent who is one these two extreme types. Let’s break them down.
The first one, let’s call her “Clingy Parent,” sleeps next to her 6-year-old son every night. The boy, let’s call him “Tommy” sleeps between her and her husband. Every. Single. Night. Any half-hearted attempts to break the cycle have been quickly thwarted by Tommy, with little to no resistance by his over-accommodating parents. From what I understand, relations between mom and dad…they’re not so good.
The second type, which I’ll call “Stiff Arm Parent,” has never once let either of her children into the bed in which she and her husband (or boyfriend, girlfriend, dog, hey, I’m not judging here) sleep. I mean, maybe once or twice when they were babies and were teething and miserable, but certainly not once since they became toddlers, and full-fledged kids. They say no, and by God, they mean no.
Personally, I take issue with both of these approaches. Now, I don’t judge either parent, because I’m a big believer that there is more than one way to skin a cat and there is certainly more than one way to raise a happy child. But both methods are extremes, whereas I believe the healthy approach to anything usually lies somewhere in the middle.
When dealing with this issue, there are two clear, distinct goals, and to ignore either would be irresponsible.
- To ensure your child is given age-appropriate guidelines for when it is acceptable to come running to their parent’s bed and when it is not
- To ensure you’re getting enough sleep to deal with their nonsense and have enough space to sufficiently relax after a long day of dealing with their lovable, yet occasionally absurd behavior
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer in nurturing our children, giving them a neck to wrap their arms around when their alarm clock casts a menacing shadow on their dresser. However, I’m also a believer in setting boundaries so compassion doesn’t transform into a bad habit that becomes increasingly difficult to break.
Put simply, there’s a reason that “Tommy” in the “Clingy Parent” scenario is an only child. His poor parents are never alone to conceive another! If we allow our children access to our beds every night and never allow them to be nocturnally independent, they’ll take even longer to “let go of our legs,” so to speak, ultimately making it much harder for us to break them from the habit later on.
And the “Stiff Arm Parent” approach is a bit too cold for my liking. I see it as ultimately more beneficial to the child’s well being when compared to “Clingy Parent,” but seriously, how do you muster the will power to follow through on a child development plan at 3:00 in the morning? This, frankly, is where I crumble. If I’ve had a stressful day at work, operating at 35% mental capacity and my son crawls into my bed and starts snoring, guess who’s letting him stay there for the night? You got it. In fact, most of the time I’m not even aware he’s there until the next morning, when it’s far too late to put my foot down.
Ultimately, I’ve opted for positive reinforcement. My older son will go between 10 and 14 days without a nighttime visit, then suddenly starts popping in three or four days in a row. My wife (who, if it needs to be said, is the real brains behind this whole parenting thing) has implemented a rewards system. It just started this week. We put a magnetized “reward calendar” up in his room, and for every night he stays in his bed until morning, he gets to put a magnet of his choosing on the corresponding day. The kicker? He gets a surprise each time he’s successful. Not like a bike or anything, but something as simple as getting to pick out his dessert after dinner that night. It’s a little way to motivate him and to get him excited about doing something he wouldn’t normally be excited to do. Some people call it bribery. But those people would understand if they were parents.
So, while I firmly believe that our children’s needs override our own, I don’t think we’re being fair to ourselves (or potentially our significant other) by ignoring our needs completely either. It’s a delicate balance of instilling confidence and comfort in our kids while also maintaining a healthy “bedroom lifestyle” for ourselves as adults. In truth, splitting the atom was probably less complicated.
So, what tactic do you employ when approached mid-sleep by your child (if any at all)? Send me your feedback and thoughts by adding a comment below!
* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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attachment parenting, bedtime, bribery, CIO, co sleeping, cry it out, Ferber, parenting, positive reinforcement, sex life, sleep training, The Ring, toddler bed | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Joe DeProspero, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Newborn Care
Friday, March 15th, 2013
Emmett never stops. He is a tank, a brute of boundless energy. At his 1-year check-up the pediatrician, who has been with him since birth, reiterated again that my dude may need Occupational Therapy to find ways to Slow.Him.Down. He is the most active child she’s seen that’s not on the spectrum or that has any mental or health issues. Even changing his diaper has been a challenge since he was, oh, 5 months old. Thank god for his amazing temperament or I might consider selling him.
“You are going to have to run him twice a day. For at least an hour each time. He is the kind of kid who will need to be worn out. Every-single-day,” she said.
I pictured a horse let out to pasture. Or a dog during off-leash hours in the park. I then pictured Emmet’s face on both beasts. Yup. That’s my boy. I decided I needed to find an activity for us to do together. One that wasn’t awful. Or disastrous (like Fia’s ballet class).This time I was smarter. I decided on Toddler Gymnastics. I should have thought of it sooner, since Fia goes to the same gym. I know the coaches, the facility, the drill.
He was the youngest one but kept up with the best of them. He loved the trampoline the most. He giggled incessantly. Of course he wouldn’t sit still and wait his turn. I had to pull him away and run him (yes, my horse) until it was his time. He hated the balance beam. It took both me and the coach to try and hold him upright. He kept doing the “baby flop”–you know, when they go limp. I’m sure because it would take too much concentration to walk slowly. I had no time to stare at the clock or dream about my lunch like I did in other mommy and me classes. But that’s a good thing. I hate being bored.
I took him early and we left late. I really thought I “ran” him good. Then we came home and he slept for 30 minutes. Should I put up my For Sale sign yet? WTF??
Three nights this week he has shrieked off and on for 3 hours. Phil and I have taken turns going in when we can’t take it anymore. He’s not sick. He’s not teething. He just wants to be held. He is one strong-willed little dude. And he knows it. I think in a test of wills he will win. Actually he already has. But man, he’s so damn cute and snuggly at times. He knows just when to turn on the charm to keep that For Sale sign at bay.
You all know I am a sleep training guru, but even I know when to throw in the towel. Since he won in the cry-it-out category, last night we switched tactics. I went in on the first wail around midnight. In less than 20 seconds I put his paci back in and laid him down. I said in a fairly stern voice, “Emmett, it’s night time.” I closed the door. He didn’t peep until around 3 am. I did it again. He slept until 7:15.
I think he just needs reassurance that we are there. Even when he’s running he pauses and looks back to check that I’m still with him. I’m usually a few paces behind, sweating. I am soon going to need a cane. Boys. Men. It’s hard to keep up with them. They are needy little f–kers. But impossible to resist.
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active toddler, ballet class, CIO, cry it out, Ferber, gymnastics, hyperactive, mommy and me, music class, Occupational Therapy, Pediatrician, sleep training | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Fia Friday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
At 7 months, I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to my “hired” village, and as my friend and Babble blogger Cassandra Barry likes to say, “Mom-Up.” I had to get rid of my night ladies. Places in Africa needed water wells for god’s sake. I think I could have built/dug 20 so far if I hadn’t employed my gals.
It’s just that with Fia, I was such a wreck from no sleep and no hired help, that I kinda lost my sh-t. We Ferberized her at 4 1/2 months. I became evangelical about the beauty and benefits of sleep training. With Emmett, I’ve done the opposite. I have managed to find all sorts of excuses–some valid, others not–to put it off.
He has reflux. He has gas pains. He’s farting too much. He must be in pain. He’s pooping too much. He must be in pain. He’s not pooping enough. He is constipated. He ate too much. His tummy hurts. He didn’t eat enough. He must be hungry.
This little dude has me weak in the knees with his ridiculously happy temperament that it’s been hard to think about letting him cry.
But the real reason I haven’t done it is I’m not tired! I think in order to go full throttle on sleep training, you have to reach the brink of insanity and misery. Or be falling asleep at red lights. Or have your husband threaten to check you into the psych ward. Instead, with 8 hours of sleep a night, I have bounced happily through his infant stage, feeling pretty damn good as our bank account dwindles.
Phil and I both started talking about sleep training oh, about 4 months ago. Emmett would sleep happily on one of us while we watched every episode of Storage Wars, The Daily Show, and Breaking Bad. I wasn’t frantically going to bed at 8 pm, hoping to get a 3-hour stretch of zzz’s.
“When are we going to sleep train Emmett?” Phil would ask. “Soon,” I’d say, sipping my wine, not taking my eyes off the TV. Neither of us were exactly motivated.
At 10 pm, we’d hear the knock on the door and in came our night help.
Frankly, with that set up, I didn’t want to “Mom-Up.” I mean, no one gets an award for lack of sleep, so for me, this was the right decision. To a point. But then it became a bit ridiculous. A little too easy. And I knew it was also in Emmett’s best interest to learn to put himself to sleep. Not to mention we needed our house back. And to some extent, our freedom. I didn’t want to travel anywhere because I knew I’d be the one losing sleep. Having a night nurse does get limiting–in an upper-class-problem kind of way.
So, with this 3-day weekend, we decided it was time.
This one was pretty bad. We put him down at 8:30 pm. He was up at 10:30. I changed his diaper (was only wet). He was up again at 11. I went in and tickled the back of his perfect neck (god I love that boy). He fell asleep until 1:30. Then started to wail. Fia woke up and started wailing too. Phil was running one way, I the other. It would have been comedic if it weren’t the middle of the night. Phil got Fia back down then came into Emmett’s room. I was sitting there rocking him.
“What are you doing?”
“I thought he pooped,” I said, knowing he hadn’t.
“Look, we are either doing this or not. If you can’t handle it, go down and sleep on the couch, and I’ll do it.”
“No, no, you’re right. Okay.”
I put him down (asleep) and walked out. He slept until 3:25. Then we let him cry for an hour. But before everyone freaks out at my cruelty, it wasn’t like he wailed for an hour. He would calm himself down and have 5-10 minute bouts of sleep. Then gear up again. Neither of us went in.
He slept until 7. The worst night was over.
Much better. He woke up at 10:30. I changed his diaper. He slept until 4 a.m. Cried for 7 minutes. I didn’t go in. He put himself back asleep until 6:30.
Down at 8 pm. A small crying fit at 3:30 for 5 minutes. Not a peep until 6.
I think we are there. And I am feeling this tremendous sense of freedom. I’m already planning our next two trips. As happy as Emmett was, I think he’s even happier now. He too is getting the sleep he needs. I also get to say I’ve “Mom-ed Up.” At least in the nights. No way am I getting rid of my daytime help. I still think Cassandra will be proud.
It also goes to show that there isn’t just one “right” way. This is a good lesson for my judgmental self. I was so sure that Ferbering at 3-4 months was the only way to go. Until I read Bringing Up Bebe. Then I thought I should have done everything differently to have my kids sleeping through at 4 weeks via “The Pause.” I was cursing myself (though by Chapter 6, I was annoyed by the book).
But now I have a baby who is sleeping through the night, who can still take naps on me during the day or sleep on us occasionally while we watch TV. I have flexibility to do what I want when I want. And for me, that’s the true definition of “Mom-ing Up.”
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baby nurse, cosleeping, cry it out, Ferber, Ferberizing, gas pains, Mom-Up, night nurse, reflux, sleep associations, sleep deprivation, sleep through the night, sleep training | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
Happily Eating Her Churro at the Zoo
God help me. I just wrote a post about feeling like a big crumb in letting Fia Scream It Out last night. Explained in the post that on a playdate yesterday my mom friend told me that perhaps she was waking up so often because of an ear infection. I didn’t really pay heed. Then, lo and behold, after 90 minutes of screaming last night, I went into Fia’s room and she says “Ear hurts.” I nearly toppled over.
Okay, she is just over 2 years old.
She always says various body parts are hurting, so I’ll kiss them. Ear has never come up. (Somehow, even though she gets gobs of attention, she must still be wanting more with these constant “hurts.” Maybe because new baby is coming?) I knew she must be telling the truth. And my puzzle was rapidly coming together.
For background: as this mom and I were discussing the ear thing, Fia was loudly playing with another boy, jumping up and down on his bed. She wasn’t paying attention to us or what we were talking about. Or so I thought.
Our sleep conversation used the word “ear” once…maybe twice. The whole discussion was about 3 minutes long.
When the doc came in to examine her ear this afternoon, she points to the opposite one. I instantly had this sinking feeling, like, Oh no, she can’t be making this up, right? Right?
He looks in that ear. Declares it perfect. Looks in the other one. Perfect as well. I am almost in tears. I’m so G-d D-mn tired, I can’t believe I still have no solution to her sleep issues.
But get this: I now think my little busybody overheard our conversation and somehow used it in the night. I know, that’s giving a 25-month-old a lot of brain credit. But I think it’s true. I think she is my little master manipulator. I cringe to think about her teenage years. We will definitely have to move to New Zealand and become sheepherders. That way when she sneaks out her bedroom window, she’ll only have the sheep to party with.
I tell the doc everything. Bunny clock, going in at 5, 10, 15 minute increments, letting her cry for 90 mins. And, of course I have to disclose that we bring her into bed with us when we can’t take it anymore.
He told me that the bed thing is the kiss of death. And that she might scream for 4 hours. But that if I want to have her back on her schedule, I absolutely cannot bring her into bed with us. Especially now that we know nothing is wrong with her. He said it may take 3-5 nights. I have 6 nights before my c-section. So once again, we’re starting tonight and this time refusing to give in.
I took her to the zoo after the appointment. As she chased a peacock, she turned and said to me, “Mama, ear hurts. Kiss it.” I looked at her, started laughing and said, “Fia, your ear does not hurt.” She got this mischievous grin on her face, laughed, and ran after the bird. I waddled after her. This girl is going to keep me on my toes. Always. She is trouble. Pure and simple. But I love her so. Now GO THE F-CK TO SLEEP!
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CIO, cry it out, ear infection, Ferber, sleep regression, sleep training, sleep training methods, solving toddler sleep problems, toddler sleep problems | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read
Monday, January 16th, 2012
Author’s Note: Join me every Monday as I share Fia’s ongoing milestone (mis)adventures–from potty training to talking to everything in between. Mayhem and mischief guaranteed on Milestone Monday!
I am writing this with bleary eyes today from another sleepless night. Just when I think I’ve got it down (wrote last week about solving the sleep problem), she throws a curve ball.
Last night Fia started crying at midnight. WTF??? I went in, laid her back down, not saying a word. Woke up again at 12:40. I laid her down again. Then at 1:30, she woke up, at which point I changed her diaper. She’s never been bothered by a heavy diaper, but am just trying to crack the code. Told her we weren’t coming back in.
She screamed for an hour. At 2:30, with neither Phil nor I sleeping, I gave in. Put her in the guest bed with me. I’d like to note there wasn’t one tear on her face. Nor a runny nose. So she was just screaming. I couldn’t fall asleep as she kept thrashing about in bed. I feel like hell today.
I think I may have to go to straight CIO (Cry It Out) tonight. Tell her when we put her down that mommy and daddy aren’t coming in until morning. And stick to it. I guess we’ll alternate sleeping downstairs (where we can’t hear her as much), etc. But how much you want to bet, just to mess with us, she’ll sleep through the night? (not complaining if that happens, but just making a point). I swear I am following a moving target. And I can’t keep up.
I think some of this might be the testing phase of a toddler. For example, when I was putting her PJ’s on, I pulled out the ones with monkeys. “No Monkeys!” she said. “Mice and cats.” Okay, so I got those out and put the monkeys away. Started to put them on her.
“No cats. Want Monkeys.”
“Fia,” I said, “Which do you want? You make the decision and it’s final.”
“Monkeys,” she said. So that’s what we ended up with.
She has a crib tent that we have started using (I wrote awhile back about how I didn’t think it would work, but we tried again and she seems to like it, or at least not mind it). With her screaming, and leaning over the crib, I can’t chance her falling out.
Last night we didn’t initially zip it. But at the 1:30 wake up, I went in and she said in a very emphatic voice, “Zip it!” So I zipped it.
She did the same thing the other night with Cleo when Phil and I were at dinner. Cleo zipped it and she slept the whole night.
But then last night after I zipped it, she started pounding on it (it’s mesh, so it doesn’t make a noise). She seemed like a caged animal. I couldn’t watch her flail like that. Which is why I finally just put her in bed with me.
I keep thinking of what my Brooklyn pediatrician told me last week in email when I reached out to her about the sleep problems.
“They are smart little buggers. Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”
So I guess I need to zip it when I put her down so it doesn’t become a reason for debate at 3 a.m. And make a decision to allow her to SIO (Scream It Out….my new acronym.). They say consistency is key. And not to mix methods.
We are 8 days out from the new baby coming, I am exhausted in this pregnancy and being tortured at night. I’m just not sure what to do. And that depresses me. Bleh.
Picture of crib via Shutterstock
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CIO, crib ten, crib tent, cry it out, Ferber, milestone monday, sleep training, solving toddler sleep problems, testing, toddler testing phase | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday