How To Ensure That Your Children Become The Worst Possible Sleepers, Ever, In The History Of The World


I am a sleep failure.

If I were to write a book on sleeping, it would be called “How To Ensure That Your Children Become The Worst Possible Sleepers, Ever, In The History Of The World.”

Bestseller, yes?

I have a guest post on one blogger’s experience getting her kids to sleep. She’s anti “crying it out,” and has chosen to keep her kids with her until they are 15-18 months and then move them gently to share a room with a sibling. It’s sweet and comforting and what works for her family. Like everything else in parenting, that’s really all that matters. There are no rights and no wrongs; It’s parenthood, not the SATS.

Actually, I take it back. There are wrongs and where sleeping is concerned,  and I did them all.

If there are any mothers out there struggling with sleeping, or wondering how to best approach it, I’d like to share with you exactly what I did so you can do the complete opposite.

You’re welcome.

• Force your newborn to sleep on top of you. I couldn’t breastfeed Lily, and was convinced that she would never bond with me because of it. To achieve a sense of closeness, I forced her to sleep on top of me during her early days, which of course resulted in nothing but a newborn who couldn’t sleep unless she was on top of me. It took months and months to undo.

• Don’t make them cry. Ever. Despite my name, I am quite a pussy when it comes to hearing my children cry, especially when I know they can be soothed simply by my presence. The minute they let out the slightest whimper, I’d be in their room rescuing them. (From a restful sleep.)

• Don’t set any type of routine. I always thought it was annoying when people couldn’t leave the house because their kid needed to nap at a particular time and vowed that my children would be flexible. And, they are, right up until 11PM.

• Fall asleep with your kids. Evan sleeps in his own room, but only if I’m with him, in his twin bed, crammed up against the wall.

• Become an accidental co-sleeper. Most nights, at least two out of three of my children end up in my bed. It happened out of laziness (it’s so much easier to just let them in bed than walk all the way down the hall,) but is now a pattern that we just can’t escape.

• Get them used to sleeping in the car. So they only, you know, want to sleep in the car.

• Have no plan. I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of parent, but sleep is the rare exception where I think a plan is valuable. There are a gazillion books on different sleep methods for a reason– they work. It may have been wise to have read one.

So, there you go. Heed my warnings and I see many restful nights ahead for you and your children.

Unlike us.


The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. Paula @ thewilyweez says

    My boys are good sleepers, I think they were just born that way because I’m a fly by the seat of my pants parent as well…and we’re stopping with these 2 good ones….why press our luck right?!

    Show Replies
  2. Kimberly says

    So glad I’m not the only one! My toddlers are also extremely “flexible” with nap and bedtimes. The only time they’re ever not cooperative is when I try to put them to bed before 10 p.m. Sigh. On the upside, they sleep in until 9, which is great for my husband (a stay-at-home-dad). Not quite as great for me, since I have to get up at 6 for work.

    Show Replies
    • Sue says

      My son likes to stay up late, too, but I’m an early sleeper/waker, so if he wants to stay up late the rule is that he does it in his own room watching a movie on the old TV that only plays DVDs n VCRs.
      During the week, TV is off by 7:30 or 8p and he has to be in/on his bed doing something Quiet until he falls asleep. I let him know way ahead of time that popping out to talk to us or asking to hang out w/ us downstairs is a no-no and that a privilege will be taken away if he interrupts grown-up time after I’ve said niters.
      He still sometimes comes out to get a last snack/drink of water, but leaves us alone and goes right back to his room.

      There’s just no reason that they should need you after bed- “time” and it’s called bed- “time” for a reason.

      Show Replies
  3. Momma Sunshine says

    Y’know what? I think you should cut yourself some slack. Sure, you’re not getting good quality sleep, but I think it’s more important to foster a sense of security in your children (i.e. knowing that their parents will be there to respond to their needs).

    My oldest was a rotten sleeper; partly my fault, and partly because that’s just the way she’s wired. But she’s 8 years old now, and she never comes into my bed unless she’s sick or has had a terrible nightmare (both of which are rare). Your kids are only small once; and I can promise you that they won’t be coming home from parties in high school to snuggle up with mom. ;-)

    Show Replies
    • Headacheslayer says

      My 16yo asked to sleep with me after a hellish week that came after she broke up with her boyfriend of 2 1/2 yrs. It was sweet and broke my heart all at once. And it was just what she needed–the next day she was better than ever.

      Show Replies
  4. Reading (and chickens) says

    My husband has a theory that good sleepers only come from bad sleepers. The parents go out of their minds with sleep-deprivation and then set some sort of plan in motion, but all those “good from the start” babies seem to slowly, ever so slowly, add some bad habits until they’re 18 and still co-sleeping with you with a pacifier and a lovely.

    Show Replies
  5. Wende says

    People can say what they want. Teaching your child the ability to sleep alone and self-comfort is one of the most important things you will EVER teach your child. However you do it – make SURE you do it, make sure you start with it young, and make sure that you STICK. WITH. IT. My heart sincerely goes out to you for the struggles you’re having.

    My son slept in a playpen beside our bed when he was tiny. When he got older, I moved him into his own room in his crib. He hated it. He would cry and scream every night when I put him down. For three months, I would sleep beside his crib on the floor, holding his hand. I did not take him out of the crib. I would comfort him, let him know I was there – but make sure he understood he WAS going to be sleeping in that crib, as that was his new bed. Within those three months, he figured out I was close by and not leaving him there forever and ever, and eventually started lying down on his own and going to sleep. Then I stopped lying down beside him, and simply told him I’d be back in 5 minutes to check on him. He would wait to make sure I did, and I did it faithfully. Then 10 minutes. Then 15 minutes. This was at about age 10 months, and he never looked back. He has slept consistently through the night since then without a single problem.

    My daughter simply just didn’t want to be by herself, so she would cry. I checked on her every 15 minutes in her crib, told her that it was night-night time, time to go to sleep, and that I was not going to take her out of the crib. She wasn’t distraught or visible wailing – this was more “hey, I can’t see what everybody’s doing!”. After about 6 weeks, she figured it out, and started laying down on her own and going to sleep. This was at about age 1. She has consistently slept through the night since then without a single problem.

    Different things for different kids. You have to be willing to figure out what works and stick with it consistently. It’s WORK. And it’s hard work, especially when you’re already tired. But aren’t you willing to teach your children other things to help them through life, like how to tie their shoes, write an essay or how to wash their hands? How is this any different?

    I can tell you this – every morning, everyone in my house is rested and ready to face the day. It was worth the trade off of a few months of hard work to make it happen.

    Show Replies
    • Jillian says

      I TOTALLY agree with you. My son was a pretty good sleeper except for waking up a couple times a night until he was one. We didn’t hit snags ville with bedtime until he turned 4 and we had to sleep on bunk beds in the same room. He fought and fought and fought and fought me for months. Most of the time he wouldn’t fall asleep until mdinight leaving a very cranky kid going to school. I kept at it though, and when we moved into our new home, it was no longer an issue. We also established a bedtime routine that starts two hours before bedtime because he needs that much time to completely unwind. The routine is what helped the most, and it’s not a hard one. We watch a movie, or do an arts and crafts project during dinner (he takes forever to eat if I don’t and that is one battle I’m not picking today) then it’s bathtime, then we cuddle up on the couch for 15 minutes and he gets to tell me everything about his day. Then it’s bathtime, and it’s book time. Then it’s lights out. Two days out of the week this schedule is interupted because I have night classes so he is at the sitters, but because of our routine the rest of the week he doesn’t give the sitter any trouble about bed time. His bedtime has also always been 8. I personally think allowing a toddler to stay up until 10 or 11 on purpose is crazy, because once they start school you will NOT want them up that late, and you will have a very difficult time switching them to an earlier sleeping time.

      Of course I also have a child who stopped taking naps at 3 1/2 because he woke up from the nap in a much worse mood then he went to sleep in. It’s a pain for his school, but after this year I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

      Show Replies
  6. Julie R says

    I, too, am a terrible sleep trainer parent type person. My first two kids had zero problems sleeping and it was never an issue. The only problem I had with them sleeping was that I thought they slept TOO MUCH so I woke them up sometimes just so I could pick them up and cuddle them, etc. They are still excellent sleepers, but I had nothing to do with it. My 3rd kid came along and HELLOOOO sleepless nights. I was unprepared and stupid about the whole thing and now I have a 2 year old who has never, not once slept through the night. Not even accidentally. She is up every couple of hours demanding that either me or her dad (thank god it’s usually him that she calls) come and rub her feet or her back or get some water or watch videos on the iPad. YES. We are not the ideal parents when it comes to sleep. We haven’t slept in 2 years. I’m glad to hear that we aren’t alone. Thank you. Us.

    Show Replies
  7. imperfectmomma says

    Oh I am the worst too. I let my kids sleep with me too. Monkey was 5 months before he slept on his own…and I had to let him cry it out.

    You’d think I would learn. Apparently, I am just a sucker cause; I screwed up w Diva too. Now, she wont sleep unless I’m holding her too. I’m gonna hafta let her cry it out.

    But I am a big wuss with crying too. That and the fact that this girl is freaking stubborn.

    Sigh. Why cant this parenting thing be easier? Why cant kids be born awesome sleepers?

    Why am I venting on your blog? Ok…this is me…stopping typing….if I can

    Show Replies
    • Scary Mommy says

      You’d think I would have learned with Lily, too, and I did. For a while Ben was a great sleeper, but then we had to have another baby and it all shot to hell.

      Show Replies
  8. Nicole says

    Holy Crap. I did pretty much every one of these things. My 2 year old finally falls asleep on her own, but she still ends up in our bed every night. :-/ She’s a late-to-bed, late-to-rise girl, too, which is great now. It won’t be so great when school rolls around. Sigh.

    Show Replies
  9. Jen says

    Like you, I made all those mistakes with my oldest son and thankfully I saw the error of my ways.

    But honestly, I probably would have done those same things again if I had not had triplets. Triplets forces you to plan and set a sleep schedule or you will never sleep.

    Show Replies

Load More Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>