Dear Adam Mansbach, when you wrote THAT book, Go the **#@ to sleep, politely dual-released as, Seriously just go to sleep, I read it and I laughed. I try not to make profanities a part of my everyday vocab, but I laughed the laugh of a parent who has two children that go to sleep as the 7.30 Report is starting and wake up in the civilised daylight hours of ABC for kids.
Anyway I digress my point is I read that book and I magnanimously sympathised with the poor parents whose children left them bleary eyed, craving coffee and a full night’s uninterrupted sleep.
Now I am that parent.
After two years and two months Max has decided that 2.19am (and sometimes 4.45am) he needs to let us know he is in his room (but not in his bed) and not very happy about it.
The first time I heard his cry my heart went out to him. It was the cry of someone scared. I jumped out of bed went in and comforted him, patted him, gave him water, covered him and waited till he fell asleep.
Somewhere around the tenth time I lost my sympathy and Max seemed to start doing it out of habit. So I started looking for answers.
According to Dr Google, many site night terrors and being afraid of the dark as top of the list for two year olds suddenly waking in the night. The next most popular reasons for night waking are toddlers being overwhelmed by something new. Things, like a new bed (after the cot), new sibling or new two year-old molars.
Well Max is in a new big boy bed but the wake ups calls started before he left the cot.
Molars? Well if that’s what it is they are taking their sweet time. They have been coming for about a month now without a speck of a broken gum.
We have tried many a strategy to reclaim our precious uninterrupted nights of sleep. Night light on, door closed. Door open, toilet light on. Night light on, door open. Toilet light on, night light on, door ajar. None of them seem to work. Max isn’t having a bar of any strategy, he is sticking with his 2.19am strategy, thanks very much.
He stands behind his door with it’s giant, plastic, child-proof handle clipped on and he cries. We get up, tell him he has to go back to bed. We put him in bed cover him up and tell we’re going to the toilet. Satisfied with this ruse and I think happy that he knows we are there, he goes back to sleep.
Now I say we, I really mean I, because while the great white snorer (GWS) is purportedly more than happy to get up to Max, Max thinks it’s playtime if GWS goes anywhere near his room. Thus no one in our house would get an interrupted night’s sleep and thus the 2.19am calls are mine.
They only solutions that does seem to work is going on holidays. I’m sure the conversation in Max’s head goes something like this. Ok they’ve been getting up to me every night, I’ll cut them some slack and sleep through the night. And so he does. It was 10 days and one week of bliss!
The good doctors of the Internet offer a variety of suggestions.
One of Dr William Sears USA, solution’s is to put a mattress at the end of your bed for a few weeks. Well I’m sorry Dr Sears that is definitely not happening but I did like your advice that take a negative and turn it positive by thinking about how you are reinforcing the trust bond between you and your child. That is instead of grinding your teeth and walking grumpily back to bed, as I may or may not be caught doing at 2.19am.
Dr Craig Canapari of Seattle USA says reasons for night waking include inappropriate sleep onset ie the only way your child gets to sleep is with someone helping them, learned hunger ie they are still having milk feeds through the night, sleep disorders and medical conditions. Well Dr Craig none of those fits but I did like your answers better then Dr Searle’s. His answers at a quick glance seem keen on attachment parenting from which I run a million miles an hour.
For me, Dr Justin Coulson, of right here in Wollongong, Australia gave the best advice. Advice that smacks of common sense and a man who has six daughters. I suspect he knows just a thing or two about sleep and happy kids. On Kidspot.com.au Dr Coulson says, in summary, that night waking while it’s frustrating is not unusual.
Phew at least I know I don’t have the only child who does it on my hands.
The good doctor goes on to say that after a while, a couple of weeks, a month or two or three it will pass. They will grow out of it. The safer they feel, the sooner it will stop. This piece of advice seems to be the constant amongst all the experts. If your toddler feels safe it will stop.
Ahh finally the voice of reason or at least something I can tell myself tomorrow morning at 2.19am right after I write this letter.
Dear Adam Mansbach, I liked your book Go the **#@ to sleep it was funny but I will stick to telling Max I’ve gone to the toilet, it seems to work.
PS – How do you get a two year old to sleep through the night? I would love to know!
PPS – All advice on how to get Max to sleep through the night gratefully and humbly accepted.