I am finding that parenting my second child is often more challenging than parenting my first. Makes sense, right? Now I have two as opposed to one to get ready in the morning, to make meals for, to clean up after, to spread my attention between, to spend quality time with, to get out the door, to nurture, to love, to raise…you get it! So when I began sleep training my second child in hopes of getting some of my day back for myself and found myself more exhausted and drained than before…I turned to friends for moral support and to coffee and wine for my sanity! I found that with a good cup of coffee in the morning to help with the physical exhaustion and a small glass of wine in the evening (or afternoon, or even early afternoon) to help with the emotional drain that comes from hearing your baby cry it out as she gently learns to self-soothe (or in my case - scream all afternoon)…I could more enjoyably survive this parenting challenge too! And when I took to Facebook for moral support of my journey – I found that many other moms agreed! What I learned was that it was never too early for wine…to battle the whine! And so I bring to you some tips for surviving sleep training and other parenting challenges.
Get clear on your vision: Why are you sleep-training or potty-training now? Will this transition be a good one for your whole family? In my case the answer was YES. Co-sleeping with my second child worked perfectly for me and for her as we slept through the night together. It did not work so well for my older child with whom I could not lay in bed with at night to read stories or cuddle or for my husband who never saw me after 8 p.m. when I would retire to bed with my little one. So as soon as she hit six months of age, reluctantly but hopefully, I began to sleep-train. And as she screamed through her nap times and I reached for the phone or the Kleenex or that glass of wine, I reminded myself that it was for the good of the family. It helped me to be clear on my vision to support me in sticking with it through the hard times. Of course the wine helped too!
Have a plan and stick to it: Plan your work and work your plan. There are many books, thoughts and disciplines when it comes to teaching your littles new tricks be it sleep or potty training or discipline. I used the Sleep Easy Solution with my kids and found that it really works well with consistency. Find an approach that works for you and stick to it for a time period – really try it out. Be consistent and give your child opportunities to learn the new skill before jumping ship! Build a support network of friends/parents to turn to when it gets tough and you want to quit or to have that glass of wine with!
Take care of yourself: As with most other things in life and in parenting - find the balance! A coffee (or two, or three) a day and a glass of wine never hurt anyone! Find your treat (or menace) of choice and enjoy it in moderation if it eases your struggle! Eat a bowl of ice cream, have a beer, eat the whole bar of chocolate or pizza if you need to! Parenting is hard and we have to take care of ourselves too! Sometimes that self-care comes in the form of deep breaths or sun salutations or a good run but sometimes…coffee and wine are in order! Cheers!
Galit Birk, PhD is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® and Owner of CORE Parent Coaching based in Dallas, Texas. She writes regularly for the CORE blog and guest blogs for Dallas Child Magazine’s various blog sites.