By Diane Hwang
I remember staring at my husband in disbelief right after I absent-mindedly drove through a roundabout near our home without yielding or even looking for other cars coming our way. I had driven through this roundabout countless times before and the fact that I had completely spaced out, nearly causing an accident, was a big red flag that my sleepless nights were taking a toll.
At the time, my son was not sleeping well at all and what started as one rough week, turned into one rough month and before I knew it, he was almost one and we still weren’t sleeping any better. Even though I knew I needed sleep, the constant exhaustion seemed to be my inevitable new normal and with the glamorization of sleep deprivation among moms on social media, with hashtags like #teamnosleep, #allthecoffee and #tiredasamother, it seemed like something to be proud of.
I realized that a part of me believed the sleepless nights somehow made me a better mom--somehow my sleep deprivation was proof of all the hard work that I was pouring into raising our son. Sleep deprivation became a badge of honor that I proudly wore to validate all of my hard work, even though deep down I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the cause of my son’s poor sleep habits and my exhaustion.
It was from that place of weariness that God so lovingly reminded me that I didn’t need to wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honor, but that the validation I yearned for as a mother was and is found in Him and Him alone. He reminded me that sleep deprivation didn’t have to be my new normal because just as He cares about every other detail of motherhood, God cares about sleep and our ability to parent from a place of spiritual and physical rest.
For the first time, I realized I didn’t have to merely survive my way through exhaustion just to prove that I’m a good mom, but that I could rest in God’s validation and use the resources available to me to implement sleep training and lay a healthy sleep foundation for our family.
Here are some things that helped guide me on our sleep training journey:
Do Your Research
As a new mom, I always thought sleep training strictly meant leaving my child alone to cry for hours on end. I had no idea there were so many different effective methods, like the Fading Method, the Chair Method, Controlled Crying/Ferber Method, and Pick-Up/Put Down Method. Understanding all the different sleep training methods was important to me, so I read various articles and books on infant sleep and numerous sleep programs and the more I learned, the better equipped I felt to tackle our battle with sleep deprivation.
Find the Right Method for YOUR Family
After learning about so many different sleep training methods, I realized that we had to sift through all the various opinions on which method was the best and determine which one would be the best for us. Since every child is different and since we all have our own parenting styles, instead of giving into the pressure to implement what worked best for someone else, I believe God gives each of us discernment to know which method will meet the needs of our families and individual children.
Along with choosing the right method for our families, being able to honor the decision that another mom makes with her children’s sleep, even if it looks completely different from what we choose for our family, is so admirable and important—we are all moms working hard to do what is best for our families and I think that should be celebrated!
Just as with discipline and many other areas of parenting, consistency is so important in helping our children succeed, and that’s no different in the context of sleep. Restful sleep isn’t achieved overnight and our children’s initial protest that comes with it can be difficult to bear, but believing in the method you have chosen and implementing it with 100% commitment will pay off and ‘sleepless nights’ will eventually be a thing of the past.
For example, with our second child we purchased an online sleep training program from a professional sleep consultant and because we clearly understood and believed in the program, we were equipped to be consistent and stay the course with the program, and as a result, our daughter started sleeping through the night much easier and sooner than our son did.
Enjoy the Benefits
Now that I know what it feels like to get restful sleep, even with an infant and young toddler, I am passionate about sharing the benefits of sleep training with other families. Sleep training my daughter when I felt she was ready, with our pediatrician’s permission, led to way more benefits than I anticipated for our family:
More restful sleep for everyone in the household
More energy to devote to my children and husband during the day
More date nights and opportunities to get away because our children are able to nap and fall asleep easily at night regardless of who is babysitting
More productive feedings with my infant during the day because she’s no longer consuming so many calories during nightwakings
More consistent and lengthened naps during the day
Successfully sleep training our children hasn’t guaranteed perfect sleep all the time—sickness, sleep regressions, and random nights of poor sleep still hit our home–but overall we are all healthier and in better moods, and my husband and I are better able to enjoy all of the treasurable moments that come with raising children. Not only that, but instead of allowing my little ones sleep to define how good I am as a mother, I rest in knowing that my identity and ‘success’ as a mother is found only in my good and faithful Father.
NOTE: Diane used the sleep training method and trainer from Taking Cara Babies.
Diane and her husband have been married for three years and are raising their two small children in the rainy, but beautiful city of Seattle. After years in sales, Diane is enjoying her life as a stay-at-home mom and volunteers at her local church while her husband begins his new career as a police officer. She’s a lover of coffee, fresh mountain air, quality time with family and friends, and the Pacific Northwest. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!