I've blogged on a lot of parenting topics. I made plenty of mistakes as I raised my three kids but I did a lot of things right, too. I've also learned a lot from watching my daughter parent her seven children—she’s a far better parent than I ever was. But there's one thing I will never blog about because I never mastered it as a parent and I'm no better at it as a grandma—teaching children to go to sleep on their own. The picture below is of me walking my grandson, Solomon, to sleep.
Sleeping issues are often a parent's top frustration because it affects them the following day (read weeks, months, years) as sleep deprivation sets in. So why couldn't I figure out how to teach my kids good sleep habits? Two reasons. I love rocking babies to sleep and I couldn't stand to hear them cry.
Seriously, is there anything sweeter than holding a child as he drifts off, that soft little body snuggled tight against yours? Or providing the warm childhood comfort of being held, feeling loved, cherished, and safe? Nothing else even comes close. So if my child wanted to rock with me, you can bet the answer was always yes, even if it meant it took twice (or three or four times) as long to get them to bed. Even if they woke when I laid them down and we had to start all over again. I simply couldn't resist that cozy snuggle time.
And all the advice about letting your baby cry himself to sleep? I simply couldn't do it. Still can't. Honestly, it breaks my heart. I simply cannot, will not, do it. I know. I'm a bad mom. But I was so good in so many other ways.
When my baby cried, my natural instinct was to comfort her by picking her up. Believe me, I tried to resist that urge. I really did! I'd pat her tiny back, coo to her, maybe even sing a lullaby. But if she still cried, I had to pick up the sweet thing. I had to!
Here's the thing. My children are now ages 31, 28, and 19. And every one of them sleeps through the night. They're wonderful people and I'm so proud of the adults they've become. I have terrific relationships with all three of my kiddos and miracle of miracles, I didn't scar them too terribly with my occasional lapses in parental judgment. So my advice to you regarding sleep issues or any other issues you face as a parent?
Follow your heart, your gut, your instinct. You've got this. Your children will turn out fine as long as you do your very best and love them beyond reason. I know you already do. At least most of the time. And in my experience that is enough.
What's your toughest issue as a parent? I can't wait to hear from you.