“They are very regimented about their sleep.”
“She’s going to sleep already?! Didn’t she just wake up?!”
“Does it really have to be that dark?”
“You need to chill out.”
These are just a few comments we’ve heard from family members while on our journey with sleep. It would be easy to let these comments bother me, but I try my best to let them roll right off. Because I have found that it doesn’t come from a bad place, it just comes from a different perspective. But when I explain both the personal “why”s (we struggled with Olivia’s sleep for 10 months and were exhausted), and the technical “why”s (sleep pressure, overtiredness, environment, etc.), it’s much easier to understand.
Before becoming a sleep consultant, I really didn’t know a lot about baby and child sleep, so let’s be real…it probably does seem a little crazy from the outside looking in! Are Jason and I “regimented” and do we need to “chill out”? I mean, we definitely have our routines and hold to nap time and bedtime as best as we can. But if we’re on vacation, you bet some naps will happen on the go! Or if a zoo trip is in order, a car, stroller, or carrier nap is going to happen! Or if we’re hanging out with our community group, bedtime will likely get pushed back a few minutes. You can have sleep structures and also enjoy some flexibility! But no, I’m certainly not going to throw all the rules out the window, even for just a few days, because I know what it looks like on the other side and I don’t want to be there! And let’s be real…the family members making these comments are not the ones who will be battling at bedtime, or waking in the night, or trying to manage an overtired child. It will be me!
It’s common for people to misunderstand “sleep training” or assume baby and child sleep is just something you “figure out.” I mean, my parents drove me around to “go see the cows” until I fell asleep for naps and/or bedtime. Or my dad would rock me in the family room at all hours of the night. And there were certainly nights where all four of us were in my parents’ room, either asleep right in their bed or on the floor! We all turned out just fine, therefore many might argue that’s just the “cost of parenting” and the way it has to be. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you don’t want it to!
So if you’ve been working really hard on your child’s sleep skills and are nervous about what your family or friends might say, you’ve got this! Or if you’re not ready to sleep train, that’s okay. We all make decisions that we feel are best for our children and our families, so don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong for making that choice! You are the best parents for you little one(s), so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.