My son is 2. When he was 4 months, he gave up his 3AM bottle, went to sleep at 7PM and woke up around 7AM. By 12 months, he was sleeping even later in the morning. He'd wake up around 8AM and go back down for his morning nap at 9AM for two hours. After a playdate and lunch, he was ready for his afternoon nap which lasted for about 2-3 hours. He's still on this schedule minus the morning nap.
Want to hate me more? As soon as I put him in his crib, kiss his little face, start the U2 lullaby CD that my husband is hoping will subconsciously encourage him to be his generation's Bono, within minutes, he's sound asleep. Come on, at 28 months, he still can't say mommy so put your middle finger down, OK?
I get that my kid is not the norm; I get that most kids require a little more finessing into Dreamland; I get that most kids like to make sure mommy and daddy see the sunrise or tempt their folks into a deep depression by crying their eyes out before they finally give into the sandman. It's just not his way. Oh yeah, and my daughter is a sleeper too.
So what role did I play in sleep training my kids? Well, it was simple-I read the books, threw out the books, and then bought the right supplies. I also gave myself permission to sleep after the first four months of both of my children's lives.
I learned very early on that I was not going to be able to mommy anyone in a constant state of exhaustion (flashback to me curled up in the fetal position, completely over-tired and crying my eyes out after just 3 weeks with my newborn son-ahhh, the memories!)
What were the "right supplies"? Well for me, that meant extra monitors. I'll admit, we own 4 monitors and only have two kids. Here's our breakdown: each child has a video monitor that points directly into his or her crib as well as a motion monitor resting under each mattress. Pricey? Definitely! Worth every cent and my sanity? DEFINITELY!
The reason why I can cap the last answer? Let me answer my own question with another question. How many times has your child called out in the middle of the night? You go running in to check on him seconds later only to find he's sleeping again, and now your stuck watching the 2AM reruns of the same episode of The Real Housewives that you saw at 9PM?
Come on, I've been there. I've gone in expecting to rock my tearful sweetie back to sleep only to find that he wasn't even up when he let out his cry-but now I'm up, and I mean, completely, 100%, ready-to-hit-the-gym-up. And because the gym is not open at 2AM (and I wouldn't go anyway), now I get to hang out in my head: What if he cries again? What if I fall asleep and he wakes up again and we repeat the cycle and I'm exhausted in the morning? What if I'm so tired that I get up too late to take a shower before the kids are up and I have to figure out what to do with my hair that's going on 3 days without a shampoo? Why did I cut bangs that require daily shampooing? Are my favorite leggings in the laundry because I'm NOT ready for pants with a zipper and button. Now I'm stuck thinking that only the Real Housewives get to have fashionable clothes and clean hair...thanks for the complex Andy Cohen!
So how did I finally put the kibosh on these crazy lady conversations? I turned the volume down on the video monitor and the volume up on the motion monitor. That way, every night I can see what's going on in each kid's room when I wake up for my inevitable bathroom breaks (thank you post-pregnancy, you've been too kind) and I'd definitely hear the motion monitor if G-d forbid...you know what, I'm not saying it out loud. Let's just say, my kids are covered and I'm comfortable with my choice.
After all, isn't that what it's all about? You've developed your parenting style based on what you are comfortable with doing. Don't want to change your kids in a Target bathroom because it's too dirty for you? That's OK, it's your choice. Personally, I've changed my kids in the trunk of my SUV, so clearly, I don't have issues with 'where' when it comes to dirty diapers. But that's me; that's my comfort level.
That being said, I've caught a ton of flak from moms who apparently think I'm suggesting you put your kids to sleep and forget they're in the house until you're up again. I'm not. I am saying that after a certain age and weight, if a kid wakes up at 4:30AM and you leave him alone, you might get another few hours out of him-and typically, he won't be worse for the wear. For what it's worth, it's worked for me.
HOWEVER, let's keep our responsibility hats on-if your child is screaming or crying for more than a few minutes in the middle of the night, please, DO NOT ignore your baby for a little shut eye. But if you're at the end of your rope, before you reach for the Botox injections or the triple-shot-Red-Eye at Starbucks to refresh, you might want to try my approach. With a good night sleep, you might just wake up with Kelly's body, Bethenny's wit, Jill's sweet Bobby, Ramona's ego, Alex's new-found chutzpah, and the Countess's phony inflection. Ok, I'll leave the inflection to LuAnn but the rest sounds kinda cool.