Today I’m sad – and it’s not postnatal depression
I got sent this article today, and since then it’s popped up on my news feed a few times. I’ve been in two minds about sharing it, but I follow Emily Writes and I love her no nonsense take on the world of parenting. Emily has tried so many things to help her children sleep, things that really don’t help, and some are downright detrimental. So I decided to share it. It’s a good read.
BUT IT MAKES ME SAD
I’m sad because she had the courage and the fortitude to reach out for help, and she was let down.
I’m sad that there are sleep consultants out there (as lovely as they are) that maybe don’t really understand the structure of sleep or psychology or behaviour change. That these consultants didn’t understand, or explain, the “why” to what they suggested she change (if anything?).
There is no magic formula for sleep because every child is different, and that really needs to be factored into the mix.
I’m sad that there is an underlying notion that if your kids don’t sleep it’s the parents fault (my kids didn’t sleep well for years by the way – and it’s only now I know more that I kick myself for not teaching them better habits sooner). There is far too much blame and guilt in parenting already. Let’s not add this to the mix.
I’m sad that there is STILL so much emphasis on cry it out. This is such an out dated philosophy yet it’s still so prevalent in our society. No I don’t use cry it out or ‘graduated extinction’ at all.
I’m sad that Doctors (and other health practitioners) really don’t know the ins and outs of sleep as well as they should. These days there is a lot more evidence-based research about sleep and sleep habits, but it hasn’t been picked up by most of the medical profession.
CHILDREN WILL OFTEN – BUT NOT ALWAYS – LEARN TO SLEEP
Emily is right that children can, and often will, learn to sleep as they grow older. If they don’t have any gentle guidance first this is likely to happen between the ages of 3 and 4 years (which is still an awfully LONG time to go without sleep). But there are also a large number of children who still haven’t mastered sleep long into their school years (and then they become adults)…
Even if children start sleeping through the night, something can happen that changes this dynamic. In our family it was a learning difference, anxiety and bullying when my son was 7. Add to that medical issues (and then obstructive sleep apnea) when my daughter was 4. I won’t lie, it was hell; and it almost ripped my family apart.
Sleep deprivation is torture. It’s because I went through it that I now want to educate people about sleep. And, for me, it ties in EVERYTHING I have previously done in my life (yes, I have qualifications).
SLEEP IS A SKILL
Sleep is a skill. It CAN be learnt and practiced. Emily was heading in the right direction when she said “they sort it out themselves”. Every child NEEDS to find their own way to sleep. BUT we can guide them through this process (gently) so it occurs sooner rather than later. If done correctly, learned sleep skills last forever. Yes, there are likely to be blips in the road – but it’s so much easier to get back on track when you have a child with healthy sleep skills.
My children were sleeping “OK” (after they turned 3.5 years old) long before I became a sleep consultant. But I think everyone who knew them then and knows them now has noticed the dramatic difference in how well they NOW sleep.
I chose to gain my sleep certification overseas through Sleep Sense, not in New Zealand (there are only 3 of us here in NZ). It was more expensive, and what I am doing now is not making me rich (shhh, don’t tell my husband). I do it because I have the passion for it, and every time I get to help someone I still get that buzz. I love it. And I think that’s so important.
A sleep consultant isn’t for everyone, I get that. I have family members and friends who don’t follow my new career, for whatever reason. That’s OK. I’m not here to judge. I don’t have any issue if you co-sleep, or if you don’t, as long as you and your children are happy. And if your sleep works for you, it works!
And if you’d like some help, you know where to find me (try here).
And if you’d like to sign up to my monthly newsletter, you can do so here.
Because everyone needs a good night’s sleep!