I had a small breakdown/revelation this weekend. My husband had three baseball games, so I spent much of it alone with the girls. It was a long, stressful weekend for me--the girls seemed fussy and irritable most of the time; I was tired, outnumbered and feeling very overwhelmed. At one point I looked at my sad, exasperated daughter, and saw dark circles under her teary eyes. It was then that I realized--my daughters are exhausted.
When the girls were sleeping through the night, I didn't consider it such a big deal that they weren't napping, but they have since hit the four month sleep regression, and/or are teething, and/or are going through a growth spurt--whatever it is, they aren't sleeping for long stretches at night anymore. This coupled with no naps makes for two very tired little girls (and two sleepy parents too).
Saturday evening while nursing the girls to sleep, I began my research to figure out how to get these girls napping. Now, I will say, I can get the girls to sleep during the day--they take small snoozes on the nursing pillow, or will fall asleep in the car on the way home for aqua aerobics, but they hardly ever lay down and sleep for long stretches of time. It's so rare, in fact, that I can probably recall, with detail, each of the instances in which this has occurred. Okay, so enter my sleep research. There are many schools of thought on getting babies to sleep, and I think I explored just about every single one of them. I knew I did not want to do the "cry it out" method, this is not meant to offend anyone who may adhere to this technique, just my personal preference based on research I've read, plus it just does not jive with our parenting style. So--I found a no-cry gentle sleep training solution, courtesy of some like-minded ladies on Baby Center's sleep training message board.
So, Sunday, after church, I began this napping bootcamp. Bootcamps are intense, and yield results--I was/am determined! My goal is to follow the basic format of wake, eat, play sleep. The key is to pay attention and watch for "tired cues" from the girls, to get them ready for a nap before they become over-tired, which basically means that they get worked up and cry. At their age they should not be awake for more than two hours at a stretch. Once they are ready for their nap, I'm supposed to lay them down with their pacifier (we call those binks). When they cry, I am to go in and give them back the bink. If that doesn't work, you pick them up, calm them down and begin again. Sound like a lot of work? Trust me, it is!
Day one of this adventure did not yield too many results. The girls took a few short naps, in the swing, or in my arms. Not a total loss, but I wasn't feeling too encouraged.
Day two was a little bit better. I got them both down at the same time for about 20 minutes at one point. Mostly naps took place in swings, slings and automobiles. Brynne tends to fight sleep a bit more than her sister. It seems she just wants to hang out with her mama, which is okay too--she does eventually fall asleep in the sling, so at least she's snoozing.
On day three things started to look up. I decided that I was really going to buckle down, and try this whole process--I mean people have done this, and it's worked for them. I decided that I wasn't going to lay the girls down and walk away. Instead--I would bring all their laundry into their room, and put it away while they were trying to go to sleep. I hummed or shushed, so that they knew I was there. If their binks fell out, I was right there to put them back in. This worked out pretty well; Hadley took three naps this way! Brynne only fell asleep this way one time, so she and I hung out quite a bit. Again, she did fall asleep in the sling, so she did get some sleep. The one nap that they both took together lasted a whole hour. Hallelujah! What I noticed at the end of the day was that the girls were far more relaxed and content, and there seems to be, overall, fewer tears through out the day--it could have been a fluke, but I'd like to say it's some positive results from our napping bootcamp.
Today is day four, and so far we have one and a half naps under our belts (they fell asleep on the way home from aqua aerobics in the car). I've continued to hang out in the girls' room until they are asleep. Their room is going to be very organized by the time bootcamp is over! My spirits are lifting, and I'm feeling very proud of our girls for having such patience with their mama as we transition to this schedule. We'll keep you posted.