Toddler Sleep {I’m doing it all wrong…and I don’t care!}

The first post I ever wrote as I made my way into the mom blogosphere was a confession, early on, about how much I did not love the baby stage. I wrote openly and honestly about how much I longed for the time when my then three-month-old was more independent, could interact with me and her surroundings more, and was more vocal. Looking back, I now know that much of that sentiment was the voice of a sleep deprived, frustrated, first time mom…but I don’t regret saying it or thinking it.

I have enjoyed every day more than the last as my daughter continues to learn, grow up, and grow into herself. I can’t look back though without recognizing the irony in those thoughts. All I wanted was to have a baby who could sleep, peacefully, in a crib, as opposed to sleeping on me for hours or on end. I spent far too much of the evenings waiting until I knew she was in a deep enough sleep to transfer her to a crib after a long session of rocking her. I had a baby plagued with GERD, reflux, and colic – and bedtime was when all three reared their ugly heads.

I loathed bedtime.

And now? Now, I voluntarily and eagerly crawl in bed with my toddler every night and lay with her until she falls asleep, at which point I tiptoe out of her room {with an urgency of silence that rivals Seal Team 6} and continue my night.

Yes, sleep experts, I lay with my almost three-year-old in her bed, and she {gasp!} depends on me for her sleep routine. The difference is that now I look forward to that special time. The irony isn’t lost as to how much the once dreaded bedtime has now become my favorite part of the day with my daughter. After long days filled with planned play dates, eventful trips to the grocery store, and subsequently – not so lovely tantrums, bedtime is the one part of our day when I get to breathe in everything my sweet girl is. Those cuddles refresh me. Those sweet conversations whispered in the dark are filled with more love and sentiment than anything I could’ve ever scripted. And I truly feel, at the end of the day, that damnit, I’ve earned those calm, quiet moments after the inevitable chaos that comes from our daily adventures.

You could’ve probably characterized me as a “by the book” mom when my daughter was first born. Over the last almost three years {where did the time go?}, I have learned over and over to trust my instinct. This happens to be one of those situations. As mothers, we are so quick to disregard what our hearts are telling us and to push forward with whatever advice we read or hear.

Not me. Not anymore. I’ve learned to let my heart guide my decisions. So while there are so many who may look down on the fact that my daughter needs me to lay with her until she falls asleep, I could really care less. I could care less about the fact that I’m doing this whole “toddler sleep” thing wrong. I know in the not-so-distant future, my baby won’t want me anywhere near her at bedtime…or any other time for that matter. I know that these days of those sweet bedtime cuddles are numbered. I know that “parenting experts” {don’t get me started on those people!} would have a pretty strong opinion on my daughter using me as a crutch to fall asleep. But I also know that I wouldn’t trade our bedtime routine for anything in the world.

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Photo Credit :: Karen Jacot Photography

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Jill is a former elementary school teacher, University of Arizona graduate {Bear Down!}, and mom to Talya {September 2012}, but not necessarily in that order. She has always had a passion for writing and really took it to the next level after her daughter was born. It didn't take long for her to realize it was just the outlet she needed. As a first-time-mom, she is constantly searching for balance in her life, whether it's work and family, marriage and kids, or a sense of normalcy and complete craziness. She has, for the most part, managed to maintain her sanity {depending on who you ask}. Jill's writing aims to portray an honest viewpoint on parenting. Sometimes it's what nobody else is willing to say that inspires Jill to speak up on certain topics! She is a regular contributor to sites such as The Huffington Post, LeanIn.org, and localhoustonmagazine.com. She and her husband Sam reside in the Bellaire area with their daughter, Talya.

10 COMMENTS

  1. AMEN! I have a 3, almost 4 year old, and an 8 month old. I’ve been saying for he last 8 months that I’m doing everything wrong and don’t care. We lay with our 3 year old because she won’t sleep without us… And I rock my 8 month old to sleep. I work full time, so I’m not going to lose more time with them because some book says they need to fall asleep alone! Those are just THE most precious moments. 18 years will go fast and let’s face it, by the time they’re who knows how old, they’ll be sleeping on their own just fine. Someday, I know my husband and I will wish we could cuddle up with our littles and they’ll be big and want “nothing to do with us”. They’re learning just fine, growing fine, they have friends- laying with them isn’t ruining them. Imagine that. There seem to be so many rules and they work for a lot of people, but not me. Not when it comes to this. Ok have to go put my 3 year old down now. Can’t wait for the priceless conversation we’ll have as she’s falling asleep.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! My 3 1/2 year old is still sleeping in my bed (yes, I know this is horrible for her personal development and even worse for my marriage) but I love sleeping next to her! On the nights I am able to convince her to sleep in her own room I end up waking up to go check on her multiple times and sometimes end up sleeping in her bed just to be next to her. I guess I am the one with the crutch….

  3. Cheers to that – I looove listening to my children’s interpretation of our day – it’s so honest and intoncent. They are able to find fun in a day of cleaning and running errands and it works in our house – wth all the social media being the new norm – I doubt any of us would have questioned our tactics in how we handle our own households. The “covey” bedtime routine – it just works for us.

  4. Hooray for honesty! I do the same thing, and it is a special time when my toddler relaxes and begins to tell me all the fun things he remembers about the day.

  5. We do the same thing in our house. We have a four year old and 8 month old and they always fall asleep with me. And then I also tip toe outta there like a boss ?

  6. My 5 year old and only child needs me to lay with her til she falls asleep, and later in the night she ends up in my bed with me for the remainder. At first I wanted to fight this, but she isn’t going to need me like this forever. She’s only little once, and before she falls asleep we get talk together just as mom and daughter. I find it’s a time she needs to help process her day or whatever thing she may be thinking about. Why would I stop that?

  7. Way to follow your heart ❤️ we get so caught up in forcing our little ones to sleep alone. How many of us sleep better when our partners are home and in bed with us? Keep on keeping on!

  8. I have a hard time falling asleep if my husband isn’t in bed with me and I’m a grown-a$$ woman! Haha! I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t expect my children to do things I can’t or won’t do (I can certainly encourage them as of course I want my kids to be better than me but I can’t get angry about it) Kuddos to you for going with your gut! I’m guessing your daughter will remember your special times with great fondness and love!

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