Reclaiming Sleep In Our House

In Motherhood, Parenting by Jen27 Comments

I have to admit that I am blessed with pretty good kids who are sweet, lovely and kind. Sure they aren’t perfect, but on a whole our home is good place to be. Well, that is the case except for at night. Nighttime has become an epic battlefield where sleep deprivation seems to be the only winner.

Here is the cause for the sleep deprivation taking place in our family.

The baby of the family Miss Anneliese has never been a really solid sleeper and wakes up EVERY 2 hours throughout the night. This weekend we had a completely terrible two day stretch where none of us had slept for longer than 5 to 6 hours in broken snatches and I was done and had a breakdown. You can see my “little” rant here.

We haven’t gotten to this point without attempting multiple solutions. We have tried lots of things, including the cry it out method. Which worked for about 20 minutes until she figured out how to climb the walls of her crib and fling her body to the floor.

After this weekend I woke up barely able to get out of bed, was confused by pouring milk for breakfast, and couldn’t even think about caring for all of the children in my house that day without at some point collapsing on the floor.

Something needed to change!

I went online for the millionth time to research this topic and using my masterful Google powers found some not so helpful resources, like the one that told me to show her a clock and let her look at the clock and tell her it’s time for bed. Yeah right, she would just throw the clock at my head!

I also found some other approaches I thought she was finally ready for. I developed a plan and together her Father and I are enacting this plan to reclaim sleep in our house!

Step 1: Turn crib into toddler bed.

Interestingly, the second we did this Anneliese began playing and laughing in her bed, before this if we even got near the crib she would scream her head off.

Step 2: Begin the back to bed model.

Here’s how this works. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, we go into her bedroom and sit on the floor next to her bed. We don’t pick her up or really interact. Most importantly, we don’t make eye contact and keep our heads down and turned away from her.  If she tries to get out we put her right back in bed.

How is this working?

We are 2 days in and I am amazed at the results! The first night she happily went to sleep in her bed and stayed there from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. That’s 6 hours people!!

Then we had a tough stretch with her trying to get out of bed and us putting her back in. She did sleep during that time, but it was fitful. She finally woke up at 6 a.m.

Undeterred we moved onto night 2!

She was asleep by 8 p.m., but woke up at 11:30 p.m.. Her father went in and did the back to bed program. He sat by her bed and wouldn’t let her get out, it was a pretty epic battle and I hid outside the door feeling bad for both of them until she finally fell asleep at 1 a.m.

I am used to babies and toddlers who wake up in their cribs/beds gurgling and cooing and even playing with their toys. Not her, she usually wakes up screaming and only gets louder.  Here’s the amazing part though, this morning she woke up at 7:45 a.m. and this is what greeted me! I had to snatch a picture as I couldn’t believe how happy she was!

I know we have a ways to go and there will be some nights we will just want to give up, but we aren’t giving in! I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

P.S. In the hopes of helping other exhausted parents who really don’t think showing the clock to their toddlers will work I created a little something.

Stay Happy! Stay Informed!




  1. Totally agree about the toddler bed and definitely worked for both my girls, too. I am not sure what it was about the crib, but both of my girls, especially Lily wasn’t a fan. So, glad this is helping you out with Anneliese and fingers crossed it only gets better each night for you all!
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Great Pin Scheduling CaperMy Profile

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      Thanks Marie, are we ever really rested once we’re Mothers? My Mom says that’s why “old’ people sleep so much because their children wore them out for far too long! :)

      I think a good night at this point would be an unbroken 4 hour stretch and that might feel like a trip to the spa!
      Jen recently posted…Reclaiming Sleep In Our HouseMy Profile

  2. UGH. Lack of sleep can drive anyone crazy- especially a mom with other kids to care for who lost sleep…just because. HOORAY for toddler bed and a solution *knock on wood*. I don’t know how I got lucky with Dylan, I can only assume he loves his sleep just as much as I do and will choose sleep over time with me any day of the week.
    Rebecca recently posted…My Husband’s SonMy Profile

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      I am really hoping this works! So far each night has been an improvement over the last. Thank heavens because I think my brain and body were shriveling in on themselves for lack of sleep!
      Jen recently posted…Reclaiming Sleep In Our HouseMy Profile

  3. OMG. I’m surprised you weren’t hiding in the cupboard in a foetal position. Sleep deprivation is awful.

    I am so into the method you’re trying here! I found it worked well for my clan. (of course nothing works for everyone).

    It was advice from this grandmotherly looking baby rustler lady (I’m sure she had a different title).

    She said, baby wanted to be with you so be gentle with them and ease them into being able to not be with you. (stellar sentence there)

    So you do the whole ‘be close to them but don’t interact with them’ thing like you’re doing above. And slowly over the next few nights take your position increasingly closer to the door. With some of my kids the next step was to be out of the door with some it was be out but pop back in every now and then.

    I liked the approach because (1) any method that gives you hope the nightmare will end is a good one and (2) it was gentle and took into account baby’s needs but introduced a much needed change.

    Also – while it takes 30 days to break a habit it only takes 2-3 (sometimes 5) to introduce this sort of change! Whoot!
    Lisa recently posted…Raising Powerful Daughters: Modern feminismMy Profile

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      Love your suggestions Lisa! I think I will begin inching slowly out of the room!

      I really never thought the nightmare would end and it’s funny, but I think she was feeling as crummy as her Dad and I were. She has been a much more happy baby!
      Jen recently posted…Reclaiming Sleep In Our HouseMy Profile

  4. Jen,

    This is fantastic and I’m so glad you found the answers you were looking for. Now that I think of it, I think that’s how we did it too! Sorry I wasn’t more helpful after your last post. It’s funny how quickly you can forget that sort of thing.

    I LOVE your image with the tips on it! I pinned it to a big group board =)

    Good luck with the sleep!
    Brittany Bullen recently posted…Elimination Communication: Hippie Fad or Wave of the Future?My Profile

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      I think we block it out of our memories! I can’t remember the name of the specific hormone that women have right after their baby’s birth that helps them forget. Thank heavens right!

      Thanks for pinning the image!
      Jen recently posted…Reclaiming Sleep In Our HouseMy Profile

  5. Wow! You poor thing! I am a HUG advocate of the My Tot Clock, and using white noise machines. But then again I’m a sleep nazi and sleep trained my kids at 4 months old. They sleep 12 hours…sorry you are having such a hard time! Good luck!
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      Oh my gosh 4 months old, I am jealous! I have 2 really good sleepers and one night owl. The night owl was born first and she just destroyed the whole sleep ball game. When the baby is old enough I think the oldest and the youngest will become roomies and party to their hearts content!
      Jen recently posted…Reclaiming Sleep In Our HouseMy Profile

  6. Keep at it, you all are doing a wonderful job. I’m right there with you in the land of the walking sleep deprived.. We got Lou a twin bed and she likes sleeping in it but she still likes to get up in the middle of the night.
    becka recently posted…Retro Pin Party!!!My Profile

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      My 6 year old does that too! I think she just sleep walks in our room. Usually she scares me to death with her deep breathing over me and I walk her back to her room. She never remembers any of it in the morning!
      Jen recently posted…Reclaiming Sleep In Our HouseMy Profile

  7. Keep going, mama! I don’t know how you’re even posting while so sleep deprived. When Baby was first born I was a total zombie… for many, many months. He finally started sleeping through the night around 9 months, unless he’s teething or sick.

    Is this a regression, or has she always been tough to bed? Pinning these tips to be prepared for the day Baby learns how to climb out of bed!
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      She has always been tough to put to bed, even as an infant. She was just too little to take her out of her crib and I think she is still pretty little for the toddler bed change up, but it does seem to be working! Hallelujah!!
      Jen recently posted…Tales Of A Middle School MomMy Profile

  8. Oh my goodness. This is exactly what we dots for Daniel. JD still goes to bed willingly and is waking me up once per night now, so I’m not ready to switch. I feel you on the sleep. That was me all summer long. So happy you finally got some sleep! !!
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