About a month ago, I posted a comment on my facebook page about having trouble getting Harlow to sleep. Lo and behold (and this is what's awesome about having a blog), a woman named Erin left a comment to contact her because she is a certified sleep consultant.
I finally took Erin up on her offer last week when I emailed to get her advice on how to successfuly transition my two girls into the same room. (Despite my post last week, we have been too scared to do it.)
Erin asked me to describe Mazzy's sleep habits so she could customize a plan. I thought we had Mazzy's sleep schedule in a pretty good place, but once I started giving the rundown to a professional, I quickly realized there is no way we can put both girls in the same room without some serious changes.
Ever since we switched Mazzy to a toddler bed, our main goal has been to get her to stay in her room, rather than to get her to fall asleep. But although we may have successfully gotten Mazzy to stay in bed, she will still reamin awake for almost two hours after we put her down, 'reading", singing and talking to herself. Mazzy also wakes up crying hysterically every morning. She's been doing the hysterical wake-up thing ever since she exited my uterus, so it really never occurred to me that this isn't normal.
Erin said she suspects the reason Mazzy is having a hard time falling asleep and waking up like she under attack, is because she is overtired. And that lack of sleep probably translates into a lot of hyperactivity during the day.
**** RECORD SCRATCH ****
"Wait? Do you mean to tell me the reason my daughter is BATSHIT CRAZY all day every day could be because she doesn't get enough sleep and not because she is ACTUALLY CRAY CRAY?????"
"That's my suspicion."
At this point, I was ready to do whatever Erin suggested.
After filling out a questionnaire and talking with Erin for about an hour, she emailed me a customized plan. The most important thing being that we don't move Harlow in the room, until Mazzy's sleep is worked out, which is ideally 12.5 hours a day.
Erin wants to be clear that every kid is different and her sleep plans are based on her clients' very specific situations. Mazzy's plan is a very detailed two-page document but I am going to share a basic rundown of the things that are the biggest changes for us.
CURRENTLY: Mazzy wakes up crying at around 6AM and comes to our room whiny and miserable. We let her come into our bed with the hope we can all squeeze in an extra half hour of sleep. We won't turn on the television or get out of bed until 6:30AM.
REHAB: Erin said we need to honor Mazzy's biological wake-up time and not try to make her go back to sleep. We should greet her with a big smile, turn on the lights and start the day.
CURRENTLY: During the week, our nanny gets Mazzy to take a nap by letting her fall asleep in her lap on the glider chair before eventually transitioning her to the bed. On the weekends, Mike and I tend to skip the nap altogether unless she falls asleep in the stroller or the carseat.
REHAB: Erin says we must keep naps consistent, both with timing (1PM for 1-2 hours) and with how we put her down. Our nanny should follow the same routine we use at bedtime and Mazzy must nap regardless of the weekend.
CURRENTLY: We usually start Mazzy's bedtime routine between 7-7:30 and she's in bed by 7:30-8PM.
REHAB: Erin says to put Mazzy to bed four hours after she wakes up from her nap. So if she wakes at 2PM, we should start putting her to bed as early as 6PM. The absolute latest she should go down (meaning bedtime routine is complete) is 7:30PM.
CURRENTLY: Mazzy watches TV in the morning until 8AM when she must get ready for school. She is not allowed to watch TV during the day and then we let her watch a half hour show before bed to get her to wind down.
REHAB: Erin says to avoid television 1 1/2 hours before bed because it's too stimulating.
CURRENTLY: Mazzy forces us to leave the light on in the hallway with the door open.
REHAB: Erin says the bedroom needs to be dark with one nightlight preferably low and behind a piece of furniture.
CURRENTLY: We brush teeth, change into PJs and a diaper (Mazzy is in the midst of potty training and we still use a diaper at night), and read books. Mazzy chooses her books herself. I usually read three books to her in the glider chair and one book with Mazzy in the bed. Then we give her a huge stack of books and let her "read" for five minutes to herself before turning off the light. Mazzy keeps the stack of books and continues to "read" with the lights off until she eventually falls asleep. This could last anywhere from five minutes to three hours.
REHAB: Erin says bedtime routine should be no more than 15 minutes and we should only read ONE BOOK. She suggests picking out five myself and then letting Mazzy choose one. Then I can let Mazzy have ten minutes of "reading" time to herself with the lights on. But after the ten minutes are up, I must take all the books away. She also suggested that I create a simple ritual like telling Mazzy three things I love about her and giving her a kiss, before I leave the room.
CURRENTLY: We are actually pretty good at this and don't usually respond to her even if she yells for us. Although sometimes she tricks us like the time she pretended to hurt her arm so she could get a Dora band aid. We will also occasionally call out to her to say "No water, Mazzy! Go to bed!"
REHAB: Erin suggested that any time Mazzy asks for something, we take a piece of paper, write her request down and say we will do it tomorrow. We should not give in to any request ever. She also said if Mazzy just starts calling for us, to not engage.
GETTING OUT OF BED
CURRENTLY: If Mazzy comes out of her bed while we are still awake, we quickly take her back to her room, but if she comes into our room in the middle of the night while we are sleeping (which doesn't happen often), sometimes it's easier to just pull her in the bed than to walk her back to her room while she's putting up a fight.
REHAB: Erin says, if Mazzy comes out of her room, regardless of the time, one parent has to walk her back without talking or looking at her. We must do the same thing as many times as it happens, even if it's 1000 times in one evening. Eventually, Mazzy will catch on and the more we keep it consistent, the faster that will happen.
I'm very pleased that Erin's plan is so different from what we are currently doing. Terrified, but pleased. It makes me think this might actually make a huge difference, if Mazzy responds positively.
We officially started TODDLER SLEEP REHAB on Monday. Erin says to expect it to take four to five days before Mazzy starts to get with the program. I will give you a full rundown of how it went next week.
If all goes well, I'm even gonna offer Erin's services as a giveaway.
If Mazzy starts camping out in the hallway on a bed of tears and broken cookies, we all know who I will blame.
Wish us luck!
You can find out more about Erin or arrange a consult at Pickles & Ice Cream Baby Planning.