Is your toddler changing their sleep routine, causing a ruckus in yours? Here are 3 tips to survive your toddler’s sleep regression phase.
by Jordan Paul | Jordan Paul, passionately passionate about all the passions…and bread, comes at you with spunk and honesty as she’s trying to balance life as a tandem-breastfeeding mom of two girls, small business owner, and non-cleaning housewife. You can find her roaming the aisles of Aldi, mindlessly humming The Alphabet. Follow her on Facebook.
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Simply put, there are not enough helpful books written about the imminent sleep regression that toddlers go through. Don’t get me wrong; there are books on the topic but none are the actual truth.
None are written well enough that you will truly understand that one night you will be tucking in your sweet, ABC-loving child after giving butterfly kisses and then hours later, you’ll be awakened by a literal demon who has kidnapped your child and started their mission of destruction. None of the books by these well-intentioned, obviously well-rested, craft-making moms can properly explain that in the moment of the possessed child’s terrorist rampage, that you will begin to question your parenting and sanity every waking minute.
“Where is my baby?” “Why is she throwing books across her room?” “Is this the part where I check myself in for self-harm thoughts?!”
Remember that show, Tales from the Crypt? “The Cryptkeeper”, would pop up from his coffin and start to tell you stories that would make your skin crawl, usually airing right before bed. Even just the anticipation of the opening credits’ scary music was enough to have me jumping up from the couch to avoid hearing what awful story was to follow with the end cap of “Pleasant Screams.”
I had no idea that life would come full circle 30 years later and I would be living in this nightmare-ish reality with my toddler – where she’d be popping up from her coffin, I mean bed, and start screaming. This time, I can’t run for cover.
As someone who is in the thick of it, let me give you three of the best and most honest tips to help you get through your toddler’s sleep regression.
#1 You will not be ready for it. Don’t bother preparing.
Everyone I know was so agreeable when I would share how cute my toddler was, how fast she was learning, the things she was saying. They would comment, “isn’t this stage the best?!” Not one time did any of my “friends” mention how their toddlers’ sleep regression came along or offer any tips for when it begins.
A toddler’s sleep regression is kind of like this. You’re driving down a road you’ve taken home your whole life and know the tricks to get every green light. But then one day, you get too comfortable and the light turns red. And just like that, life as you know it is different, confusing, halted. Did you do anything to cause it? No. It was just inevitable that one day things would change.
And that’s when I realized the lesson. You cannot fully prepare for anything in life. Things will happen that you did not anticipate and you must let the moments graze across your back so you can stand up straight again and conquer it head-on. Nothing in life is guaranteed or permanent (unless it’s spaghetti sauce on the highchair tray. That is, in fact, permanent). So get comfy and wait for it to pass.
#2 IT WILL PASS.
In the moment, in the middle of the night, when you’re reasoning for them to go back to sleep like it’s a hostage negotiation, it will feel like that is how you die. You will feel like you will never again know life the way it was, that you will be in a perpetual state of exhaustion, mixed with some entitlement in the form of snide comments to anyone who even looks at you wrong.
However, the more people I tell of my sufferings, the more people commiserate. They know the feeling because they’ve been there, too. The biggest thing I’ve heard in return is “it lasted a little bit.” And in the grand scheme of things, aren’t all the phases of our babies growing up “a little bit?”
I reminded myself that this is a teaching moment for us both. While the middle of the night is not convenient for me, I get extra hours of pouring love and truth into my child during what is seemingly a very frightening time for her. In the past two months of this regression, I’ve gotten more nighttime hugs, kisses, hand holding, and pleads for prayer than I have any other day of her short three years to date. After all, I am also often kept awake at times because I have so much on my plate, so much on my mind, so much on my lists. Her, too. I am her only safe outlet. I can carry the burden of her stress.
#3 They’re quick to forget.
Listen up, mamas! Even if you’re thinking of punching a hole in the wall in your kid’s room or ripping out all the pages of Little Taco Truck, it will feel like you’ve completely failed the “good mom” mission. And maybe, in that one instance, you have. But I KNOW you are doing a better job than you think.
If I’ve learned anything during the Summer of Satanic Sundown Outbursts, it’s that in the morning, when the sun rises and everything is new again, your child comes running back into your arms. You almost want to cry out, “Am I the only sane one here who remembers last night?!” Turns out, you are. They’ve moved on.
You are their entire world; being held by you makes everything right in theirs. So, the cycle repeats. Here’s to you and your pleasant screams, I mean dreams… You got this!