Children Who Don't Sleep




 Just wondering if you have any good advice on managing my home with a two-year-old who has almost grown out of naps and a two-month-old who is a light sleeper. It is just the beginning or me as far as family is concerned ( we hope!), so understanding how to manage is very important to me. I just feel like I never get a clear routine or even down-time at all because of my non-sleeping children.

I could tell you a typical day, but you can probably imagine when you think of one who rarely sleeps (and still doesn't
sleep through the night) and one who wakes up at any little thing, even with music and the white noise machine going. Wow, I'm not really sure how anything will ever get done, much less future homeschooling! I'm sure you're overwhelmed with emails, so I'll understand if your answer is brief, or takes a while to get back to me.

Thank you, and God bless you for your hard work as a mother, wife, teacher, and disciple of Jesus!

Love, Allison

Dear Allison-

I have long said that the hardest time for me as a mother was when I had a two-year-old and a newborn. Truly, my seven are easier from day-to-day than your two are right now.

That said, can I give you some gentle advice? I wouldn't offer if you hadn't asked Those babies (yes, the two-year-old is a baby) need to sleep. I don't give any child under the age of five the option to drop a nap. Even if the almost-five-year-olds are ready to drop it, they still have to be on their beds resting for at least an hour and a half. When the day begins around 7 a.m. and ends around 8 p.m., it is a long time for a little one to go without sleeping. I know, because if ever I venture into a store in the afternoon, I encounter cranky, whiny, tired little ones. Little ones who ought to be home in bed.

I can't really imagine a two-year-old not sleeping through the night, and I am not saying that to be critical. I just so firmly believe in training babies to sleep though the night as soon as possible, and it's all I know. We do snuggle them in bed with us early on, we do comfort and hold them a lot, and love all over them. But I am a firm believer in flexibly scheduling a baby. The deal is, my newborns are always so sleepy that I have to wake them to feed them anyway; why not wake them on a schedule? By the time they are a little more wakeful- voila!- they are already on a schedule and on their way to dropping the middle-of-the-night feedings. By three months, they are sleeping 10-12 hours straight at night, with two daily naps of 90 minutes each, plus a cat nap in the early evening. And you know what? They are happy when they are awake because they are well-rested.

It's not too late to get the baby onto some sort of a schedule. If you need some help, there are good books out there, although I confess to not having read them: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems are the two I have been told positive things about. Preschoolers and Peace readers are so good about commenting and offering resources, so glean from that all you can. I know the debates inside and out (I've been doing this parenting thing for quite awhile now ), so be forewarned that if a debate ensues in the comments here, I will delete them. We're trying to give Allison some help, not argue the different philosophies of demand feeding/schedule feeding/attachment parenting.

As for your two-year-old, all of my kids have gone through a stage when they thought they were done with naps. I just smile and say, "Have a good nap!" when I put them down. If they choose to talk/cry/scream/sing, then that's the choice they make. Eventually they tire out and get the picture: naps aren't optional here when you're a preschooler. If your two-year-old won't stay on their bed, maybe consider a crib tent. I have been there and done that, too!

You are right, Allison. Homeschooling might not be impossible if you don't have sleeping children, but it will certainly steal all the joy right out of your life. And accomplish very little. You need your sleep, too, mama.