Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sleeping Like a Baby...

Our good little Carter...
Following some great advice from my cousin, we read Babywise and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child before we had Carter.  And then we've reread it before the other two births.

Some say that it is unnatural or selfish to put your child on a sleep schedule.  I say, "It works for us!"

All three boys have slept 12 hours at night starting at 3-4 months.  And, never was there a night (from birth) without a 4-5 hour stretch.  However, it took some training!

They sleep well at others' homes.  They take great naps (for the most part).  They are happy kids.  I believe it is all a part of them being rested.

Moving on...

Our great little sleeper, Carter, became a not-so-good terrible sleeper a few months ago.  Right before JP was born, he would wake up with nightmares/night terrors.  They subsided about a month later.  Then he started waking up several times a night screaming and running down the hall (past all of the other sleepers) into our room.  He would have to be settled to go back to sleep.  Finally, he started getting out of bed as soon as we'd lay him down AND waking several times a night.

Nothing in his environment had really changed.  I mean, he did have a new brother, and another brother who had dropped his nap so that Carter was never awake alone, BUT, other than those major changes, life was about the same :)  Not a ton of long days, missed naps or late bedtimes.

Also, he's almost three and has been testing boundaries   With that said, the majority of the day, he is a well-behaved kid.  At night, the story changed.  And, then, the naptime story changed.  Let's just say it went from a fairytale to a horror story in a matter of weeks.

I'm getting to the point here...

When nothing else worked ((soothing, disciplining, rewarding, incentivizing (made that up?), you name it)), we called a sleep consultant, from Strong Little Sleepers by the name of Lori Strong.  From the research I did, she seemed to be one who followed the basics of what we'd learned from the books, so we felt comfortable seeking her advice.  She changed our lives.  Literally.  

Without giving away all of her advice, we basically were told to return Carter to bed, without making eye contact, without talking, and with as little of contact as possible, NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

The first few days were not great.  Some people said they would just spank him.  Others said he was going to bed too early.  Still others thought he didn't need a nap.  All trying to help the little guy, none of it was working.  It got better for a couple of days, then it got HORRIBLE.  In fact, it went a little something like this...

Naps got worse.  Night got worse.  I guess we fully started everything (without messing up) on Tuesday, the 16th.  It went from 1 hour of wakings, to 45 minutes to 30 minutes, each night.  However, each session was a bit worse in terms of actions (although shorter in time).  Then his naps started to get worse.  He started to do the same things.  Then came Friday.  I had to take the kids to my aunt's house.  My husband had a sweet lady come clean the house (part of a Christmas gift), and really, she can't get anything done when they kids are there because they want to play with her.  So, we went through the whole routine at my aunt's.  And, it was disastrous!  He got out of bed for 1.5 hours, I would say about 160 times.  And, he tried everything.  Screaming, kicking, "needing to poop", being scared, yelling that he was crying, trying to run past me and through their house, opening the bedroom door so hard that it banged the wall, scratching my face (I almost lost it), hanging on to the string on my hoodie so that it broke in half, wrapping his legs around my legs so that I had to peel him off.  Mind you, the entire time I feel terrible that I'm at my aunt's house.  He finally fell asleep for 10 minutes...and then it was time for us to go home.

That Friday night, same thing happened.  At this point in the week, we had taken all TV, candy, his new basketball goal, etc away.  Just to give you an example of his reaction:

Carter: Mom, may I have a piece of candy?
Me: No, Carter, you have to follow your rules to have candy, and you didn't.  You can have an apple.
Carter: An apple????  OH!!  I LOVE apples, thank you!

I turned on the Mass on EWTN because I said no cartoons. 
"Oh Mom, this is the best show!  I love watching this!"

His great-grandma made him his favorite cake, and it was withheld until he could follow the rules.
When we all woke up for breakfast...
"Mom, did you follow your rules?"
Me: Yes.
Carter: You need a piece of cake for breakfast!
He asked everyone, even little brother Peter, and so I set out cake for everyone.  Then he shrugged his shoulders and said:
"I didn't follow the rules, so I don't get any."

Same scenario with everything else taken away.  No fits thrown.  He just adapted (seriously???).  I was pulling my hair out, haha!  I did start to "over reward" other things so that he could see that we would follow through and that he would be rewarded.

Saturday - 10 minutes.
Sunday - 3 wake ups
Monday - 5 minutes
Tuesday - STAYED IN BED!!!! (and it has continued)
Right now he is napping and hasn't gotten up.

So, it took a full week, and then it happened!!  Everyone is amazed.  And, I am so so thankful!!

If any of you have struggled in this area, I would recommend getting in touch with Lori, bolstering up your patience, and following through with this.  Carter is finally back to "sleeping like a baby" and so are we!