An Open Letter To The So-Called Sleep Expert

by Billy Kilgore
Originally Published: 
children's sleep
g-stockstudio / iStock

Dear So-Called Nap Expert,

I’m not surprised you elected yourself to serve as resident sleep specialist. There seems to be one parent in every bunch. You know what I mean: the one who reads a handful of parenting books and deems themselves an authority on children’s sleep. The one who acts as if they hold a Ph.D. in breastfeeding, teething, or discipline. The know-it-all.

I know you are trying to be helpful. You are sharing your wealth of knowledge. But it is weird how passionate you are about my child’s sleep. I visited your fancy website and read your tips, methods, and strategies. And I browsed your ebooks, online courses, and coaching. Oh, how could I forget to note you received Dr. Phil’s endorsement. Dang. Your sleep skills are Jedi Knight caliber.

As I watched your YouTube instructional videos, I could not help but notice how relaxed and energized you appear. (By the way, nice teeth.) However, I’m a bit suspicious. Do you have children? The reason I ask is because I don’t know anyone who cares for small children who looks as good as you. It would be more realistic if you wore a faded college T-shirt with a blueberry yogurt stain. Okay, I’ll take you at your word, but I’m wondering if you have a nanny. I need to see a look of desperation in your eyes — the hollow look that leads parents to lock themselves in the bathroom with a glass of wine.

I can move past your near-perfect appearance, but here’s the thing that annoys me most: You insist on applying your particular child-rearing experiences on other children as if they are the same. It makes me want to shoot laser beams out of my eyes. Look, I’m not a hostile person but your supposed enlightenment makes me want to set the playground on fire — after the kids leave, of course.

I noticed you are fond of fielding questions, so I have one for you: How do you resist the urge during naptime to throw your child out the window? This question crossed my mind at 3 o’clock in the morning. I checked your website but noticed you do not have any answers. And you consider yourself a sleep guru. Really?

Perhaps you think I have too much time on my hands if I am writing this letter. I admit sleep deprivation has done strange things to my mind. Last night, I poured breast milk in my coffee. Sleeplessness places me on edge, exhausts my patience, and causes me to rip other people’s heads off, especially those dispensing parenting advice with utmost confidence.

Why does my child not sleep well? I don’t know. We have implemented a routine, darkened the room, and purchased a white noise machine. In a moment of frustration, I considered giving my son a tranquilizer, but my wife vetoed that idea.

What’s that you say? I haven’t tried your special methods. Oh, I’ve considered them. But do you think I have time for a sleep log? I barely have time to feed the dog and pay the electric bill, much less write down my child’s sleep habits. Do you really expect me to place a Bluetooth-enabled device under my child’s mattress and sync it with my smartphone to monitor his night terrors? Umm. That ain’t gonna happen. Do you expect me to believe that improving my child’s self-esteem will help him sleep better? Thanks for the laugh.

I want to share with you my sleep solution. It is called deep breathing. When I want to toss my child out the window, I take a deeeeep breath. When I reach the breaking point, I sit him down (safely in the crib) and walk into another room. I do not return until I have taken multiple deep breaths. I don’t care if the child is crying. I breathe in and breathe out. I drink a glass of water. I eat a Hot Pocket. And I wait until I can make a rational decision.

If I think there is a chance my child will go back to sleep, I keep trying. If not, I move on. The middle of the night is a good time to watch ’90s television. My son and I are currently finishing season two of The X-Files.

So, on behalf of all over-caffeinated parents with dark rings under their eyes, I decline your sleep advice and suggest you simmer down on the playground bench.


A Sleep Deprived Father

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