Whew! We made it to the 2021 Holiday Season! It might be time to introduce your littles to family members for the first time in a few years! Now that we’re inching our way out of social distancing, you might be traveling for hours (or even days) to visit with your extended family for the first time in quite a while. Maybe in the last 18 months, you’ve had a baby and realized the importance of maintaining good sleep habits for your child – especially with all of the working-from-home we’ve had to get accustomed to over the last several months!
Check out this scenario ...
It’s the first time your baby has met the grandparents and cousins! Everyone is loving baby’s smiles and noting their sweet resemblances to your baby photos. Sights and sounds are comforting and relaxing, and it’s finally time to sit down for the meal. Glancing at your watch, you realize it’s already nap time! “You all go ahead and eat. I’ll be back in 5 minutes!”
You quietly slip away to the makeshift nursery with your baby rubbing his eyes, and you overhear, “Why can’t she just skip nap this time? I just let my baby sleep whenever and wherever they want.” Unfortunately, visiting with family may include people who question your parenting methods.
In my years as a sleep consultant, I’ve heard my fair share of stories from clients about disagreements and scolding from family members — ranging from immediate family to second cousins twice removed — who were not on board or who are straight-up judgmental with your decision to sleep train. There are many polarizing opinions and various sleep philosophies in the sleep world. While this article’s purpose is not to convince you of one way or another, it’s good to have a clear understanding of what YOUR sleep philosophy is.
To help you have a less stressful family experience regarding sleep training, I’ve put together some tips and scripts to help you enjoy your family time to the fullest.
1. KNOW WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO
Maybe you worked with a Sleep Consultant, read a certain book or took an online program. Whatever it is — Rock it!! When you have a baby who is a sleeping champ, more than likely, you’ve worked hard to make that a thing. Before heading out to be with others who may disagree and even attack you, arm yourself with the reasons why you believe what you do.
It’s helpful to write down what things were like before you committed to your sleep plan for yourself (make a note on your phone!). What was happening that led you to sleep train your baby? How did you feel when bedtime approached? Did your child only depend on you to sleep?
And then write down (and celebrate) what it’s like NOW!
Taking a few minutes to document this will help you be on point regarding what you believe about your plan's benefits and getting good sleep. For Lauren, the mother of a 5-month-old, it’s very clear what sleep means to her …
“Coming from months of suffering from postpartum anxiety with my first baby, I now am a more confident mom and less anxious because I was able to teach my baby to sleep. And SHE is so happy all the time!”
It’s my experience that once you put this in writing, you’ll start to live and breathe your belief that good, routine sleep is actually a thing for your family! Which makes the next step more manageable.
2. KNOW WHEN TO SHARE AND WHEN TO BITE YOUR TONGUE
I’m not so great at this, admittingly, but my career as a sleep consultant has helped reinforce the idea that everyone is different. There are many people out there who are dedicated to a multitude of different parent philosophies, including co-sleeping, pacifier use, the CIO method… you name it. Actress Amy Poehler says it best, really …
“Good for her! Not for me.”
As moms, we’re all going to choose what is best for our families. You’ve chosen what’s best for yours, and let’s honor what others have decided. Be respectful of others’ decisions.
When others judge you, I suggest taking the high road and letting the results speak for themselves.
When a family member makes a demeaning remark such as, “Oh, you’re really going to let him cry it out up there all by himself?” you can confidently reply, “I’ve actually worked really hard to implement a plan for my child, and he is a great sleeper now. When he sleeps, he is happy, healthy, and well-rested … and so am I.”
Once nay-sayers are exposed to more of the great results of your efforts, they may become your best supporters. If you get genuine, curious questions about your sleep training structure, by all means … answer away!
3. FIND A BUDDY
We all have that person we can freely vent to, whether that’s your spouse, a sister, or a close friend. Whoever that person is, tell them you’re about to head into a situation that you know will be emotionally difficult from time to time. Knowing you have someone to lean on is extremely important.
Remember, most people will judge you because they themselves “fly by the seat of their pants” and likely don’t know what you are doing or why you’re doing it. This is a great time to show with confidence that you have a plan, that you see success, and that it is a game-changer for your family. While they might have their thoughts and opinions, you will likely have their respect because of your sleep success and the benefits that good sleep brings everyone involved.
4. FIND A PLAN
The best part about living in today’s world is how much HELP we have at our fingertips. From working with a Sleep Consultant in your own town, working through our Sleep E-Coaching Programs, or reading a book that matches your sleep philosophy — we have SO many options!
5. DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION
Even the best sleepers at home can be off their game when needing to sleep in a new or different place (SlumberPod with code LITTLEZSLEEP can help!) or when they’ve had a long day with more stimulation than usual. And sometimes babies and toddlers can sense anxiety from their parents and not be their regular, predictable selves.
Do your best to go with the flow while also sticking with what’s important to you and works for you.
Remember that no matter where you stand on your sleep training methods, be confident in them and know that YOU are doing what’s best for your family. Don’t give up, as the rewards are great.
Sweet Dreams, everyone!
Mom of two, sleep consultant and founder of Little Z’s Sleep Consulting which has helped thousands of parents worldwide make sleep a thing.
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors.
This blog post was originally published 12/03/2019 but has been updated with new recommendations.