A Child’s Guide to Sleep Training Parents
All children are responsible for teaching their parents how they should sleep. Pre-children, your parents would have developed certain sleep habits (such as sleeping six to eight hours straight) and certain sleep associations (such as sleeping in an adult bed, either alone or with a maximum of one other person at a time). It is your job to re-train them to sleep in a manner more suitable to their most important role: being your parents.
The earlier you get onto this important task the better. You will need to first gauge your parents current sleep patterns and set your body clock accordingly. If your parents retire early in the evening then midnight is the perfect time for you to wake and start your stretching and rolling routine. Keep it up for as long as possible, you’ll have plenty of time to rest throughout the day. If your parents like to stay up late at night then 4.30/ 5am is your ideal wake time. If they are not tossing and turning and complaining of how tired they are then you need to work a little harder. A regular kick in the ribs or bounce on the bladder should do the trick.
It’s important to get the labour timing right. Make sure your birth takes up at least one whole night but the longer the birth the better. If you can stretch it over two nights you’ll be fast-tracking your way to success.
First 3 months
This is when the fun really begins. Your parents will now listen out for every single move you make, so make sure you use that to your advantage. You need to wake and make noise every 2-3 hours. There is always warm milk waiting for you so don’t stop until you are fed. Drink just enough to get you back to sleep, be careful not to over-eat or you may find you’ll over-sleep.
Up to the 1st year
It’s time to party! At this stage your parents are probably starting to think they have figured you out so it is time to change things up. Try sleeping through for 2-3 nights followed by a week of 12am – 3am wakefulness. These are the hours you should be practicing all your new-found skills. Don’t drink your milk when it’s offered and don’t go for cuddles. Make it clear you want the lights on, the toys out and plenty of room to kick and roll.
1 – 2 years
If your parents are falling asleep during story time or while playing Lego on the floor, you are doing a good job. But be warned, your parents may try to start sleep training you at this stage. Do not let this happen. If your usual screaming doesn’t work try projectile vomiting, choking and explosive poos.
Remind yourself that crying is a normal part of the process. Most parents will stop crying on their own eventually. Do not worry about causing lasting pain or emotional damage. You’re teaching your them how to self-soothe, a valuable skill they will use for the rest of their lives.
2 to 4 years
Now that you’re on the move, you have the potential to cause some serious trouble. It’s time to get climbing. You need to be persistent with this. Climb out of your cot whenever you wake in the night and eventually you will be moved to a big bed. The fun doesn’t stop there. Now you have free range, you can pop down stairs and turn on the TV, maybe grab yourself a snack from the kitchen cupboard or turn you parent’s light on and jump into bed with them. Jump, jump, jump! All this hard work should be made as fun as possible.
The next 5 years
Remember school days are for sleeping in and weekends and holidays are for early morning fun and games. The earlier the better and the louder the better. Right before bed is a great time to suddenly remember you have a project due the next day. Your parents will need stay up late finishing it for you. Make sure you wet the bed at least once a week, demand midnight snacks and on weekends convince mum and dad that you need to sleep with them because there is monster under your bed.
The preteen years
You’ll need to stay vigilant during this stage. Your parents may slide into old habits. This is the time for hunger pains in the middle of the night, those that only fried eggs can fix. If your parents refuse to get up and cook for you it’s time to give cooking a go yourself. Setting off the smoke alarm in the middle of the night is a perfect way to remind them of the alertness required for successful parenting.
The teenage years
Your parents should now be hardwired to fall asleep on the couch by 9pm and naturally wake before 6am, even on weekends. Congratulations, they have been successfully sleep trained. To maintain this, all you need to do over the next few years is drop the words ‘drugs’ and ‘sex’ into conversation here and there and that will be enough to keep them up all night worrying. The time has come for you to sleep until noon. You deserve rest and relaxation after all those years of hard work and dedication.