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By Ashley Bellis
Mother to a 3 year old son and a newborn son
Last year I wrote a Babywise success story. It praised the “system” and highlighted the lowlights of sleep training (ie: crying, frustration, my personal crying, and additional frustration.) Yea, those tears and frustrations are short-lived! As I write this in late June, I am just about nine months pregnant. I have gone through the wheel of nausea, pains, sleeplessness, and emotional and energy drains. To say that I have been off my normal game is an understatement! My almost three-year-old toddler has been so patient with my lack of parenting gusto. Part of what has kept me going has been the fact that I get three hours to myself every afternoon, and I know that nighttime will be peaceful (barring illness, of course). I have spoken with and read about other parents whose children have ditched consistent sleeping months ago. My son is still going strong. Why? Here’s the scoop.
I played varsity volleyball in high school and I love the thrill of the game. Practice on the other hand wasn’t as fun. Scrimmages were fun, but drills, repetitive drills, repetitive serving, and repetitive stair climbing were all but fun. But all of that hard work equaled a better-skilled game player. This is so true with Babywise and sleep training! When my son was four months old, in the throes of sleep regression, I was tempted to throw the proverbial book out the window and just survive. We opted to stick with our plan and kept following our practiced routine. We had a written schedule, a goal, a light at the end of the tunnel. We put our games faces on and stuck to it! Keep practicing the goal. Practice winning. Practice every waketime, every feeding, every bed/naptime routine. Practice practicing. Whatever you do, don’t assume the worst just because of one defeat. Keep practicing for victory and victory will come.
This is as much attitude as it is action. It is a sibling of the aforementioned “Practice.” It is necessary for Babywise success. If I gave up every time my son woke early or refused to go to sleep on time, I wouldn’t be writing this. I’m not the most self-controlled person, and being a self-controlled mama is a major challenge for me. Sleep training is hard, even harder than wrangling in a toddler’s temper tantrum. (Stories for another day…) When the night before has been rough, and the first nap is looking flaky, and every living creature in the house is miserably tired, keep forging ahead. I absolutely love the Babywise concept of continuing as you mean to go on. There will be days in Babywise-Land where you have to survive and your idealistic expectations will be broken. But at the beginning of each new eat/wake/sleep cycle, continue as you mean to go on. Adjust if adjustment is necessary, and then continue as you mean to go on. Keep practicing your goal, and keep your attitude persistent. All of us Babywise parents have experienced the exhaustion and frustration, and we all have the persistence to see through these temporary rough patches!
Be patient in your expectations; success will not be immediate. When I was fighting multi-daily battles with the 45-minute intruder and someone said, “One day your son will sleep for three hours every afternoon,” I would have laughed obnoxiously in their face. My son wasn’t even sleeping for an hour, let alone three! But I had unrealistic expectations. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that my newborn/infant/toddler wasn’t an adult. He couldn’t understand why I wanted him to sleep. My expectations were based on scientific research, statistics, others’ success stories, and pictures of happy infants sleeping with smiles on their faces. Apparently my son didn’t have access to those sources while in the womb. Please take it from me, that it is going to take time to get to your ideal. It may take a few weeks to see glimpses of hope. Be patient with yourself. You will make mistakes and unintentionally ruin your child’s chance of good sleep. I just had to adjust when my son went down for nap because he was refusing to sleep. This was due to my slacking off and putting him down too late. Be patient with your child, because your child doesn’t have any degrees in sleep training or any experience with how refreshed they will feel after a good nap. Be patient with the nay-sayers who think you’re crazy for doing Babywise. The success you taste will be oh so sweet! Be patient, dear mama, trying to keep your family’s life together.
As tempting as it is to think Babywise is a science, I have found it to be more of an art. Scientific minds (ie: detail-oriented people) are drawn to it, but there are many fine brushstrokes that need to be adjusted before you see your masterpiece. Practice your masterpiece, develop an attitude of persistence, and be patient as you see the various pieces coming together. You will be surprised by the beauty of your end result.