Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Mothers, Restless Toddlers, and Newborn Nap Schedules – Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca,

With my first baby my mother came and helped. It was nice to have her but at night she wanted to have the baby in her room to let me get more sleep. I was uncomfortable with it for some reason I still can’t explain but it was nice to get a little more sleep. She would comfort my daughter when she would wake, bounce her, give her the pacifier, change her diaper, and try to get her back down. If that didn’t work, she would bring her to me to feed. Several times a night it did work so I did get more sleep. But it never felt quite right even though I appreciated the sleep. My daughter is a pretty good sleeper and my mom says it is because she taught her to sleep as a newborn.

This time I know she’s going to want to do that again and I’m torn about it. Is this ok to do or are is it potentially causing problems? I’m just not sure.

Thank you for your help,

Conflicted mom-to-be again.

 

Hi Conflicted Mom,

How lovely that you have family who come and stay and help you with your newborn. Don’t worry, your Mom helping at night will not cause any problems. Having said that. Don’t do anything that is making you feel uncomfortable. Maybe have your Mom do this once or twice a week, or after the first week or two. If you’re feeling uncomfortable you probably won’t be able to relax and sleep, always trust your Mommy instinct.

~Rebecca

 

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Dear Rebecca,

Every night around 3am my 2.5 year old wakes up. I try taking her back to her bed but she’ll just cry and cry and I’m so tired I lay back down with her or let her get in bed with us. Sometimes she needs to go potty but not every time and she’s always very confused. If I let her in bed with me she’ll fall asleep and everything is fine but I wake up sore. If I take her back to her room she’ll be up repeatedly for the rest of the night. I don’t want to reject her but I need her to go back to her bed and sleep. How can we gently help her get there?

Sincerely,

3am Zmombie.

 

Hey Zmombie,

I would work on eliminating this wake up, as it is happening at the same time each night it is happening out of habit. That’s a good thing as we can work on breaking habits!

If she’s waking at 3am, you’ll want to set your alarm for 2:20am (sorry), go into your daughter and rouse her from her sleep, you don’t want to wake her, just bring her into a lighter sleep. Put your hands on her and rub her tummy/back until you see her move or make a noise. When you do, stop and creep out the room. She shouldn’t wake at 3am as she is going back down into a deeper sleep. Try this for 3 nights before seeing if she has eliminated the wake up herself. If she wakes as you expected her to you will need to wake her slightly more the following night as she wasn’t quite woken enough.

~Rebecca

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Dear Rebecca,

Naps, how do I get my 10 week old to nap somewhere other than on me? I love babywearing and I love holding my baby but sometimes I just need a break and would like to set him down to rest on my own or take a shower or something. He loves to sleep but only in my arms. At night he sleeps in the cosleeper next to me and I can transfer him pretty well after feeding but nap times during the day are an entirely different matter. It seems like he always wants to sleep during the day but it’s only in little bits here and there because if I try to transfer him he wakes up. I end up feeling stuck sitting there holding him until he wakes. Is there anything we can do or have we already made a bad habit we have to live with?

Trapped under a baby in the midwest.

 

Dear Trapped Momma,

This is very normal behavior for a young infant. I can guarantee that it will certainly not last forever. Sleep will really change at around 12 weeks of age (actually 52 weeks from conception).  At this point I would try for 1 nap a day in a swing or crib, the easiest is the first of the day. Don’t worry if naps are short, that is very normal as naps don’t develop until sometime between 4 and 6 months. In the meantime I would make sure you are swaddling your little one, making sure they aren’t getting overtired, dark room and have white noise playing as you work on a nap. You never know you may be able to pop them down whilst they are sleeping.

~Rebecca

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Sleeping Through The Night, Transitioning, and Night Weaning- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share their current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses, followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca,

Is it normal for a 4-5 year old to not sleep through the night yet? At 4, my son still wakes to come co-sleep with us and my 6 year old also goes through phases where she won’t sleep through the night. Is there anything we can do to help this? I worry because night wakings sometimes affect school. I think this is normal, but my husband doesn’t sleep well when they crowd us. My daughter says she wakes and is too scared to return to sleep alone. How can we make both my son and daughter feel more safe and/or my husband feel more comfortable?

I really appreciate your advice, thank you,

Feeling Crowded

 

HI Feeling Crowded,

We all wake during the night, up to 6 times is quite normal but it is no wonder you’re feeling a little crowded! I would make up beds for them on the floor of your room, don’t make them too comfortable, just a blanket and pillow is fine. When they come in to your room they can sleep on the floor but not in your bed. They may soon realize that their bed is much more comfortable than the floor of your room and want to stay in their own bed.

Hope that helps!

~Rebecca

 

Dear Rebecca,

My 17 month old co sleeps and always has. He lets me leave at night when he’s asleep for the night but I cannot sneak away from him at nap time. What can I do to start having him nap on his own?

Sneakily yours,

Ready To Have Nap Time To Myself

 

Hi Sneakily,

Nap sleep is quite different than night sleep. At the beginning of the night we all get into a deep sleep, this means that you can sneak away after getting him to sleep. He will get into a deep sleep at nap time, but it’s not as deep. Try shifting away after he’s been asleep for 10 minutes. Pop a pillow next to him so he has something to snuggle with. When you do shift away initially stay next to the bed, place your hands on him if you can see he’s coming into a light sleep (moves or makes a noise) jiggle him a little and help him back to a deeper sleep. Don’t rush off when he’s asleep, spend the time helping him remain asleep and he will have an easier time sleeping for longer.

Good luck sneaking away!

~Rebecca

arms reach image

Dear Rebecca,

When is a reasonable time for a baby to stop nursing to sleep? I keep being told that if I give my 9 month old more solids he won’t want to eat at all at night. I feed him all he wants but I try not to push him after he stops showing interest. I don’t mind the night feedings since we co sleep and he takes the breast when he wants at night without waking me much. I have been told we should stop night feedings once a baby has teeth.

Do I need to start weaning him from nursing to sleep by a certain point? I really don’t want to but maybe I’m just trying to hold on to his baby stage.

Nursing to sleep and fine with it,

Holding On

 

Hello Fine With It,

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! He will need to fall asleep independently at some point, maybe before his first sleepover or when he goes off to college and I’m quite sure that he will have been sleeping independently before that!

You don’t need to stop nursing during the night because he has teeth, you don’t need to stop nursing through the night because he’s on solids, you don’t need to stop nursing through the night because someone told you to. You continue to feed during the night until it is no longer working for the both of you. When it’s not working, that is the perfect time to stop.

Enjoy what’s working for you!

~Rebecca


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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.

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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- Night Weaning, Co-sleeping, and Crib Training- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi
This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakiaes to share there current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Dear Rebecca

How do I get my almost 2 year old to sleep through the night? She wakes 2-3 times a night to comfort nurse and I’m desperately in need of a fully night’s sleep. I don’t want her to feel rejected but I’m at the end of my rope. She naps once a day for about an hour and a half and our bed time routine is pretty simple (bath, pajamas, brush teeth, story, nurse, sing a few songs, bed). What can I do to gently encourage her to sleep more at night? I’m not ready to fully wean but I have to do something.

Thank you for any help you can give me,

Red eyed and bleary in Missouri

Hi,

Do you have someone who could help during the night? Could your partner help? If so, I suggest you sleep somewhere else for a few nights (if you’re bed sharing) or have your partner go in and help during the night. They need to help the same time you would have done, we don’t want her left upset for any duration of time, and help soothing her any way they can. When night weaning (recommended after 12 months old or older, before then babies often still need nutrition at night), expect strong emotions from your child. Your daughter will be mad, quite mad I imagine, but she is just that, mad and someone is with her the whole time helping her with these emotions. Habits are broken after just 3 nights so it shouldn’t take long for her to not expect a feed during the night.

Wishing You Rest,

Rebecca

 

Dear Rebecca,

My question is about a safe sleep space. My son is 3 months and growing out of his bassinet but I’m not at all ready to put him in his crib in the nursery, I want to keep him near me. What are my options? He’s pretty big, in the 98th percentile. I don’t have space to move the crib into my room and I’d like to cosleep but I’m not sure it is safe for us to bed share as my wife is a heavy sleeper and we have a queen bed. Should we get a king sized bed? Is there a cosleeper option for bigger babies?

Deeply grateful,

Craving Cozy

HI,

Take a look at a co-sleeper Arms Reach co-sleepers, they attach your bed, and are the same height as your bed. Your child is sleeping right next to you, but in a separate sleep space, this would be the safest option for you with a smaller bed and a heavy sleeping partner.

Happy Co-Sleeping,

Rebecca

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Dear Rebecca,

Our 1 year old sleeps for a max 15 mins in his crib. if he’s in bed with us we get an hour or 2, if we’re lucky we may get 4 hours. . Any little movement he does wakes him up and he can’t get back to sleep unless he’s nursing. I’m exhausted during the day and can barely keep up.

Something has to change.

Overly Exhausted mom of 2 + a pup.

Hi,

Make sure he has plenty of playtime in his crib each day, he needs  to be comfortable in his crib when awake to be able to sleep there comfortably.

Compare the mattresses, if they are different and I bet they are, try making the crib mattress more like yours. Some crib mattresses have a softer toddler side, you can also buy mattress toppers for crib mattresses. Some families put a quilt or blanket on top of the mattress but under the sheet to make the mattress more comfortable.

Making these changes to the crib can make the world of difference, if you are still struggling with wake ups during the night, you may want to take a look at some gentle sleep training techniques.

Best Wishes,

Rebecca

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Ask the Sleep Expert- Rebecca Michi- 4 month olds, 3 year olds, and Partners- Sleep In Arm’s Reach

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi

This post made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

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We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakiaes to share there current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

Dear Rebecca,

Help! I have a 10 week old and a 3 year old. The 10 week old sleeps pretty well, considering, but it is the 3 year old that is pushing me over the edge. The baby sleeps in a cosleeper next to me and my son sleeps in his own room but usually joins us in our bed in the very early morning. I’m fine with that, I like the extra snuggles then. What is getting to be too much is our bedtime routine. It is pretty straight forward; bath, pajamas, brush teeth, read a story, go potty, lights out, sing a few songs while I rub is back… and we should be done. Except we’re not. He won’t fall asleep without someone sitting there and what he really wants is me to lay there with him. It can take him an hour and a half to go to sleep! In that time I usually need to feed the baby and he’ll come out looking for me when I go get her. My partner isn’t home most bedtimes so I’m on my own. I’m getting so overwhelmed and frustrated that the other night I yelled at him to stay in bed and he ended up falling asleep crying. I feel horrible, that is not how I want to parent. How do I get him to stay in bed without needing me right by him for 90 minutes? I’m so tired by the time I leave his room, I struggle with picking up the house and getting the dishes done. Is there anything I can do to help him settle quicker?

Sleepily yours,

Grumpy and tired mommy of 2 in Idaho

Dear Grumpy,

It should take us between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep, if it’s taking longer than that chances are he’s not tired enough. I’m not sure how long her is napping during the day, but it does look like he is getting ready to drop his nap. I would start by reducing the nap down a little (maybe 15 or 20 minutes), that will probably mean that you need to wake him from his nap. Give it a week and then see what impact it has on the beginning of the night. You can continue to reduce down as you need to.

It’s okay for you to be in the room at the beginning of the night as he falls asleep if it’s not taking you so long, his whole world was turned upside down with the birth of his sibling less that 3 months ago, so give him the support he needs at the beginning of the night.

 

Dear Rebecca,

My husband seems to think we’ve spoiled our 4 month old by not leaving her to cry at bedtime and when she wakes. He thinks that the night wakings (usually 3 times a night) are out of hand. I’m actually ok with it, though I am tired, but I expected to be tired with a baby. The thing is his mother is telling him that our daughter should be sleeping through the night from 7 to 7. It doesn’t help that his sister has a 6 month old that has a baby that has loved sleep from the get-go and is happily sleeping 10 hours a night according to her. He thinks we need to sleep train her and that it is ok to let her cry. I don’t and feel that her sleeping patterns are normal for her age. Is there some kind of happy middle ground I can suggest?

Thank you,

Searching for middle ground in Georgia

Dear Searching,

At 12 weeks 70% of babies are sleeping for less than a 6 hour stretch. Waking 3 times at night at 4 months old is perfectly normal. I would not advise you leave your little one to cry-it-out. She is still so tiny and new and is only just beginning to understand that she is separate from you. Her tummy is also tiny, she will wake out of hunger during the night.

It’s awesome that your sister-in-law has a little one that sleeps through the night, most don’t, she is certainly one of a few.

Hang in there, sleep will change and those stretches of sleep will get longer and longer.

Rebecca Michi normal sleep 4 month old Arms Reach 01.16

Dear Rebecca,

My wife is an excellent mother but she puts a lot of pressure on herself to do everything. I work long hours and want to take on the parenting responsibilities I can when I’m home, even if they are in the middle of the night. She’s breastfeeding our 2 month old son, which I fully support, and it is going well. However, I’d like to help more at night, in part so she can get a break and have more sleep, and in part because I selfishly want to have some time caring for our son as well. Unfortunately, with breastfeeding she says there is nothing for me to do, he just wants the boob. Are there ways I can help with sleep and nighttime routines that won’t interrupt breastfeeding? I know she doesn’t want to pump but our son does wake frequently and I want to be able to help. He is sleeping in a bassinet by our bed so she can reach him easily. I know it sounds selfish but I just want to be involved and I don’t feel very needed in caring for our son at the moment. Any ideas?

I appreciate your help,

Daddy just wants to help

Dear Daddy,

There is plenty you can do to help with sleep. How about you do the getting ready for bed routine and your wife does the feeding to sleep? The night routine can be around 30 minutes long before a feed, that can include a bath, massage, diaper, pj’s, walk around and then the hand off to Mom. Chances are at this age your little one will fall asleep whilst nursing at the beginning of the night and during the night and that isn’t something you can get too involved with. You can give him a diaper change during the night, give him a quick snuggle before you pop him into the bassinet, get your wife a fresh glass of water and of course be ready to help if she does struggle to get him back to sleep.

Sleep is going to change so much over the next few months and I’m quite sure that you will be able to help more and more during the night.

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, leave a comment.

____________________

small Rebecca Michi121

 

Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Rest Well- Sleep Support For You and Your Child From Sleep Consultant Rebecca Michi

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi

sleep consultant Rebecca Michi

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to share there current sleep struggles. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

 

Chris: My 20 month old has an average 7 hour window of awake time after she wakes from her nap- this is killing me when she doesnt go down for nap til 1:15-2 and then sleeps til 3:00! I can’t stand a 10pm bedtime!! What should I do? should I drop the afternoon nap? My mom said I stopped napping all together at age 2. Worried we are headed this way as well. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

 

Rebecca: I would work on gradually reducing down the nap. Have her wake at 2:45pm for a week and see how that impacts your nights. You can then reduce down another 15 minutes for a week. You should be able to find the perfect nap length, though it may be that she is ready to drop the nap.

Take a little look at your night routine, you want it to be between 30 and 45 minutes long, nice and consistent, same thing in the same place in the same order. Take a look at the environment as well, nice and dark (through the whole night), no energy saving light bulbs in the sleep space and no screen time an hour before bed

 

Courtney: Naps! How can I get my 15 month old to take a nap without getting nursed to sleep. He’s not one of these “drowsy but awake” kind of kids, you can’t rock him because he squirms and won’t settle. I just want to get to the point where I can put him in his crib and he falls asleep on his own. Wishful thinking? We also nurse to sleep for bedtime and when he wakes in the night.

Rebecca: You will need to teach him the skills to get himself to sleep. I suggest some gentle sleep training. When you are gently teaching sleep skills you are always with your child and you can pick them up and soothe them. Take a look at The Baby Whisperer book, Kim Wests book and my book. We all have our own sleep training techniques that are more gentle and hands on. Find a technique you like and stick with it. It’s actually easier to work on nights first, you can work with naps first, but it will be more of a challenge.

 

CarolineMy 7.5 month old never naps (ok maybe twice) longer than 70 min Is there a way to get her to nap longer? When she was younger than 3 months or so she only ever napped being worn and she would nap longer but in her crib she maxes out around 75 min. We would love it if she took longer naps – is this just what she needs? 3 30 -75 min naps (first two usually lose to an hour but the last one of the day frequently only 35 min or so)

Rebecca: How long is she awake between naps? Try aiming for the 2-3-4 routine (awake for 2 hours, nap, awake for 3 hours, nap, awake for 4 hours, down for the night. With 3 hours of nap you have a 12 hour day). Changing to this schedule should help those naps stretch out a little. Have your nap routine within your awake period, so you want to be actively working on getting to sleep at the 2 hour point and the 3 hour point. The last awake period can be a little longer, we have a longer routine so it can be longer than 4 hours. If she has had shorter naps you can have a catnap in the 4 hour stretch, this nap just needs to be long enough to keep her going until bedtime.

 

Cailyn: My 7 month old doesn’t nap in her crib. If I put her down she either wakes up immediately or within 5 minutes. We are currently doing cuddle naps, but would like to get her napping in her crib. She sleeps fine in her crib a night, provided she has napped well in the day. We have been using a lovey to try and get her to associate it with sleep time, and not the cuddling, but so far that hasn’t made a difference. Do we just have to keep trying to put her in her crib for naps, knowing that if she doesn’t nap for long her night time sleep may not be good?

Rebecca: It’s not unusual for children to sleep very differently for naps and night sleep, the reason behind this is due to day sleep (naps) and night sleep being managed by different areas of the brain. Make sure she has plenty of playtime in the crib each day, she needs to be comfortable with the space to nap in the space, this comes with play. When you do work on having her sleep in the crib you will probably notice that the naps get short, this is very normal, naps do reduce in length as we make changes to them. The naps should begin to lengthen out but themselves, but it may take a week or more for them to lengthen out. As we don’t want nights to be too impacted I would suggest having and emergency nap towards the end of the day. Maybe run some errands so she can fall asleep in the car or go for a walk so she can nap in the stroller or carrier, this way she can catch up on a little lost sleep, but you are not going going back to doing those cuddle naps.

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Be sure to check out Rebecca’s book Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament and don’t miss out on the scholarship opportunity to participate in her Sleep Academy LIVE, here.

If you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time, please use this form to submit your inquiry.

_____________________

 

small Rebecca Michi121 Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Saving sanity- Transitioning from breastfeeding naps to quiet time

by Jessica Martin-Weber

needing a break bad mom

Sponsored post.  This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Cosleeper.

 

I recently wrote about quiet time over on our more general site, BeyondMoi.com, and was asked about quiet time and breastfeeding.  Hundreds of questions pour into TLB every day about breastfeeding and nap time, sibling transition, postpartum depression, overwhelmed moms, touched out syndrome, and general burnout are regular topics.  So here’s one of my sanity saving tips for families: quiet time and how to transition the breastfeeding child into independent quiet time.

The old adage to sleep when baby sleeps is all well and good when you have a newborn and only a newborn and that newborn sleeps.  But what about when they’ve grown into active toddlers?  Or when you have an extroverted preschooler and a newborn?  When do you find some time to recharge and rest during the day if you’re a stay at home or work at home parent and especially if you’re a breastfeeding mom?  Maybe you can find some rest helping them rest but when a part of your body is required to help someone else sleep, there can come a point when one’s very sanity is threatened.  So how do you find space and help the small children grow into adults that can appreciate time alone as well and develop respect for others’ sensitivities?

Parenting is hard.  Maybe not the hardest job in the world, but certainly a challenging demand with responsibilities 24/7.  No other relationship or career requires participating individuals to be so continuously available or interacting.  If I had to spend as much time with my friends as I do my children, chances are strong we wouldn’t be friends.  Getting space from each other, yes, even from my children, helps me interact as the mother I want to be when I’m with them.  In other words, I’m super grump mom when quiet time doesn’t happen and my children are too.  True, I’m an introvert (a shock to some, but an introvert is described as someone that gets energy from being alone and an extrovert gets energy from being with people) but even the extroverts I know appreciate a bit of space to themselves from time to time.  Being “on” all the time is exhausting.  In our family, with 9 of us at 2, 4, 6, 11, 13, 13 (foster daughter), 15, and two thirty-somethings, it is imperative to all our sanity that we find space in time to call our own.  Even just 45-90 minutes a day.

But what about the toddler or preschooler that is accustomed to breastfeeding for their midday siesta?  What about when they’re ready to drop a nap all together but quiet time is still needed for everyone?  How can everyone get the space and quiet time they need as stages and ages change?

Personally, I’ve transitioned 5 out of our 6 children from breastfeeding to sleep at nap time, to taking quiet alone time as toddlers and preschoolers and transitioned one of them from nap to quiet time without breastfeeding involved. Transitioning the breastfeeding toddler or preschooler from naps to quiet time isn’t a process that should be rushed.  Like night weaning, there’s no magic age but rather a collection of readiness signals for both mom and the child.  For us it usually doesn’t happen until sometime after 18 months, usually closer to 2 or 2.5 years old.  Signs of readiness include: down to one nap a day, able to play independently for 20 minutes or more, demonstrates a natural inclination for balancing being active and quieter play, and displays a secure attachment.  Whether transitioning to going down without breastfeeding or shifting to a quiet time rather than a nap time, something that can go back and forth for years actually, following the child’s cues helps make the transition easier.  When I’ve been tempted to force something they weren’t ready for it just stressed us all and set us back.  Still, there’s a balance to be struck, mommy martyrdom leads to burnout and stress for the entire family.  Quiet time may be the oxygen mask a parent needs, figuring out how that works for your family may be all that is standing between you and saving your sanity.

My own needs for space and quiet time as an introvert led to me noting the need to nurture the nurturer and to find ways to do so.  With my fingernails desperately clinging to the cracked foundation of my spirit during postpartum depression with my second and my first period as a stay at home parent, I croaked out to my husband how I was failing but couldn’t find my footing without having space to do so.  Fortunately, the sensitive, introverted man I am in love with didn’t hesitate to make some room for me to find that footing even as he helped secure my life line: quiet time.  Admitting I needed a break felt like some sort of failure.  Moms don’t need breaks!  They need aprons and bowls of cookie dough and a baby carrier for the littlest and everyone is happy then!  Right?  That I needed a break not just once in a while but every day felt like I wasn’t cut out for this mothering gig.  Which was incredibly problematic since I already had 2 children by this point.  What was I going to do, give them back?  The horrible reality that maybe I was a bad mom started to sink in and I wasn’t about to give in, I was going to do whatever I could to change that.  Maybe I was a bad mom but my kids were stuck with me and I wasn’t ready to give up, just had to figure out how to keep it together.

Quiet time did more than help me keep it together, it gave me time to drink a cup off coffee, fill the journal The Piano Man gave me with poetry and thoughts, and gave me the space to find my footing to be the kind of mom I want to be.  Needing a break didn’t mean I was a bad mom, just a human one.

So when my nurslings no longer need to breastfeed for naps or quiet time but we still practice the daily ritual of quiet time for everyone in our homeschooling home, we gently guide the transition.  If they are still napping, instead of nursing to sleep, we nurse for 10 minutes or just before sleep and then stop and read something together before putting space between us. Gradually decreasing the amount of time at the breast while still engaging in physical connection through a back rub, light foot massage (with some lavender oil, so relaxing), reading cuddles, etc., meets that need for physical attachment while helping them prepare for some alone space.  We start them out having quiet time in the same room, I’ll just be sitting in a chair across the room while they play in the bed. Sometimes even in bed together but I’ll sit and read my own book and not interact. Building forts or creating a nap nest or book nook helps too, working together to create the space, then have them go in and have alone time in the space. When they start to give up naps, a snack during quiet time can be helpful and a distraction. When we’re in the same space, I just tell them I won’t be talking to them and even avoid eye contact during the designated time.  Making use of a timer such as 30 minute sand timer (oh how the eyes get heavy watching the sad) or the alarm on a smart phone (pick a sound that won’t be too startling should they fall asleep) can give them a goal with a definite end point.  Now with big kids in the mix, sometimes a younger one will take quiet time with an older one, quietly side by side reading or coloring.  For extroverts, making sure the coming out of quiet time transition is one that engages them fully is so important. With our extroverts we like to ask them about their quiet time experience, what they did, what they thought about, what they created, etc. We just let them talk. Having the conversation while doing some other activity is good too, such as cooking or playing outside.

As with all transitions, it’s best if it isn’t abrupt.  One day she’ll settle just fine on her own and even tell me to go away, the next I may end up nursing her to sleep.  Being flexible and attentive to her needs as well as mine helps us all find the balance we need.

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