Like any parent of young children, I am tired…but it’s a good kind of tired.
I think one of the driving forces behind my exhaustion is bedtime. I admire parents who have mastered the art of getting children to sleep in an efficient manner – but I hate to admit that I am not one of them.
I recall hearing sleep advice about a year too late when a newborn expert I met warned new parents that the bedtime ritual you establish will follow you for the next four years. In fact, she shared a cautionary tale of a father who was excited to play his guitar singing softly and lovingly to his toddler as she drifted off to sleep. Fast forward over 1,400 bedtime songs later (I did the math) and he is still (now, tired & unenthusiastic) strumming the guitar for his 4 ½ year old as she sleeps. This advice still stings because in our house we are well into the two hour bedtime ritual where we need to wait in the room until my preschooler falls asleep. (I know, I know… what were we thinking?!?) But we set the expectation and we are honoring our end of the commitment to our child. (By the way on a side note, when child #2 arrived… she chose her own path and we follow her lead).
I think rather than follow the specific advice of the many sleep “experts,” it’s best to do what works for your family but especially the child. My husband and I may be making our work day longer by sitting with our child but this is our family’s ritual. It works for us. It’s part of our story.
I recall the “advice” from an older colleague at my husband’s office. One day my husband was lamenting over the extra time it takes to get our oldest to sleep and she wagged her finger sharing her perspective as a mom with two grown children. She reminded my husband how fast childhood passes and to savor every moment for she would trade anything just to have two more months with her kids as young children. That advice hit home for both of us.
We are so thankful for every second with our children and we will never regret the extra time we spend with both of them.
This works for our family.
So, my sleep advice to any parent who asks, savor every moment with your kids and do what works for your family.