Toddler Sleep Problems and Other Tales of Woe

One of my biggest regrets as a parent thus far is not having been an uncaring asshole, spitting in the face of attachment disorder, and saying, "Okay, it is no longer acceptable to wake up hourly. Sorry, kid, but you're going to have to cry it out. How do you like them apples?"

Three years in to nighttime parenting, and I still don't know what I'm doing. Good news: we've moved on from baby sleep problems. Bad news: We now have toddler sleep problems.

In the early days of parenthood I was so confidently sure of my approach to parenting (in the way that only a novice and / or idiot can be). With granola running through my veins, I would parent intentionally and with love. I would attend to my child's every need, teach her that the world is a safe place and her needs would be met. Above all, thought I, she'd never be left to cry.


Well, it turns out that this nonsense parenting is exceedingly difficult to sustain when your child wakes twelve times per night. And requires 1 hour and fifteen minutes of bouncing and pacing and rocking to achieve 20 minutes of sleep. Four times per day. 


(And, guys, I know that I lean hyperbolic, but this right here, this is FACT).


As I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline on the weekend, I saw that Aisha had posted an article about baby sleep. So of course I clicked through it, because duh. Then, as is kind of the way of the Internet, I read through the comments and found myself wanting to poke everyone in the eyeballs.


Sleep is a rage-button issue for me. I bristle when people try to tell me how to make it happen (guess what! tired it! it didn't work!!!) and I snarl when others complain about the slog of nighttime parenting a three-month-old who has the insolence to wake up for two mid-slumber feedings, because OMG YOU DO NOT KNOW EXHAUSTION UNTIL YOU'VE PARENTED MY BABY and btw, do we need to talk about the time she stayed awake for 36 hours??? That one still stings.

Anyway, here were are, so many years later with a nice hearty dose of toddler sleep problems: (nap resistance, bedtime refusal {extreme overtiredness be damned! This kid still won't sleep!!!} nightmare, and a total inability to fall asleep or stay asleep alone.)

(I keep writing about the trails of sleep deprivation. Do you think I have post traumatic stress disorder? Hmmm, what do you think, Dr. internet??)


Anyway, I kind of want to write a coherent post about the ways and means of infant sleep, the guilt and stress, and anti-feminist currents that run through parenting literature and the douche captain doctor who's name rhymes with Mears whom I hold accountable for the massive (and I fear permanent) bags under my eyes. (Thanks kid doctor, for equating crying it out with abandoning my child in a Russian orphanage. I really needed that extra guilt because motherhood doesn't come with enough as is.)


But still, even three years out, coherent thoughts about infant sleep is not something of which I'm capable.


All I can tell you, is that we've trying out my newest scheme in my grand project to secure seven hours of uninterrupted sleep and put an end to our ongoing toddler sleep problems. As such, Stella has a new bed.


She's pretty stoked on the idea, and does not fail to mention to everyone that she has a NEW! BIG! BED! My friend at the cafe? "Stel-wa have new bed! I getting big because!" The waiter at dinner? "Stel-wa have new bed!" Teachers at school? "I have big bed now!" I mean, this is maj! They need to know!



I can also tell you that only yesterday I overheard her screaming at the top of her lungs, "ROCKSTAR! ROCKSTAR ROCKSTAR!" while nestled in the glorious and totally ridiculous luxury that is a full-sized bed for a two-year-old.



Looks comfy, no? (And I can tell you from experience that it is! Because guess who's sleeping in it??!! Me!!!! Every night! Except for last night when Mr. Chef was in charge of toddler sleep problems and I slept solidly for eight hours. I don't even think I moved.) 

(Now that I think about it, maybe delegation of nighttime parenting is the answer??)