Together tomorrow again.
Tonight when I’m sleeping
I’ll dream of us being
Together tomorrow again.
~ Tom Chapin
I believe that all truth, religious or ‘secular’, is from One Source, and that often people are inspired by heaven (even if they don’t realize it) for the benefit of all. And I say, the more light the better!
In the past couple of years there have been two major crises in our parenting. Both were solved by much research, prayer, trial and effort, and finally hitting upon just the right solutions for our family. This is pretty personal and pretty long – all that I am sharing is in the hopes that this will help someone like it helped me. Both of the books recommended here I WISH had been around when I first had Exacto and could have known this stuff with all my children! Here is what I have been so grateful to learn. . . .
One crisis I blogged about long ago, but never really followed up on the resolution of it – infant Rosebud’s apparent unwillingness to be unconscious for more than 3 hours at any given time! She was the WORST sleeper. You cannot imagine unless you have been through it. If your baby had reflux or colic then you probably know what I am talking about.
She slept with us because the only way I could get her to sleep was to nurse her, and with how often she woke up, I didn’t want to be traipsing into her room over and over all night long. It was sweet to have her there, but SO EXHAUSTING. Sometimes she would wake up literally every hour. I would get up in the morning feeling like a truck had hit me, and then proceeded to go about my day in a total fog. I forgot things all the time, couldn’t form a complete sentence -- I even had a fender bender due to my fatigue.
I never have felt right about letting a baby cry himself to sleep. It just feels dishonest to me. (Please know I never judge people who do this! It’s just how it feels to me personally!) I work hard all day to fill your needs and connect with you and then when it’s dark? Bam, I’m gone! I just couldn’t do it, especially with this precious baby girl whose arrival had helped so much to heal my heart from the previous loss.
I am a book-learner – I love to find answers to things by reading. So I read and tried many sleep-method books: The Baby Whisperer, Baby Wise, The No-Cry Sleep Solution. . . .none of them worked for us. They were either too aggressive to feel right to me or too passive to have any real effect on the problem. If you want me to go into more depth on why I don’t like those methods, just ask and I’ll write another treatise. :)
I went online and did tons and tons of reading there. I knew that somehow people managed this! From watching My Neighbor Totoro I knew that the Japanese co-sleep and somehow they survive. I tried to find out how they do it. It was during one of these one-handed research sessions (because the sweet girl was always on my lap :) that I first stumbled upon something about an Australian nanny who seemed to have a magic way about getting babies to sleep, without making them cry themselves to sleep.
Her name is Sheyne Rowley, and she is brilliant. It is out of gratitude to her that I wanted to write this post, and also to help other parents out there who feel the way I do—that there must be a better way.
I was so happy to find this. It could have been subtitled, How You Can Teach Your Baby to Sleep, Minus the Guilt Trip. Her philosophy has much to do with communicating with your baby. She uses role-play – you role-play the bedtime routine using a doll or a teddy bear while the child watches, and then she knows exactly what’s going on when you begin it with her. The book discusses nutrition and timing of food and how it affects sleepiness. There is a charming concept called the Sleep Bus that helps parents decide whether to go in and comfort or wait a few more minutes because the baby will soon fall asleep. The best part is the overall tone of love for the baby and how that works with a parent leading the baby’s day and night.
It is for babies 6 months to 24 months only.
It is not for someone who wishes to continue co-sleeping. (Although it works just fine for a nursing baby/mama).
It is not well-edited. The 700+ pages could probably have been more like 400. But Rowley’s ideas really changed and shaped the way I think about parenting, especially with babies. I had never realized before that a baby might feel anxiety about the crib because I feel anxiety about having her there! I love how Rowley ‘comforts’ the parent while teaching the parent how to comfort the child. You are not asking anything painful of the baby – only to get the rest he needs in the cozy crib in a safe room you worked to decorate and prepare for him. I love how she teaches what a baby understands from what we do and say. It really helped me get into Rosebud’s head and understand her better, and it also helped me to know what she needs.
Ahem – little soapbox moment here. Babies need parents who know what to do. And so do children. I believe that the last couple of decades worth of parenting books/parenting advice have wreaked havoc on the new generation. We’ve been told not to spank or yell. Children naturally grow into the people they’re meant to be if we don’t interfere. We’ve been told the attachment is more important than perfect behavior. We were sold a lot of half-truths. The result has been insecure parenting! We can see that our children are being annoying or even doing things that are dangerous but we sure aren’t going to spank them like our parents did. That’s not enlightened. And so we passively let them turn into whatever they choose to turn into. Rowley says this lack of clear limits causes anxiety in children. What they need is parents who show them what to do, in a loving, respectful way. Not backing off as soon as there’s negative emotion, but not correcting in a way that will damage the relationship either! (More about this below.)
Anyway, we put it into effect March 2011, when Rosebud was 15 months old, and it was AMAZING. Almost no crying at all, and she slept through the night from then on!!! Plus, she started taking solid 3-hour naps and still does even now that she’s almost 3.
So yes, it is a lot to wade through. But it totally works, and here is why it is a method I can use. It is lovingly assertive, where the other methods are passive or passive-aggressive. Part of the night-time routine is the moment when you turn your baby to make eye contact and say, “Rosebud, it’s time for sleep. Mommy and Daddy love you. It’s time for night-night.” And then, because of the clear limits we have taught her, through role play and especially through gentle consistency, she knows it is time for night-night. She goes to sleep! Anyway, I could go on and on about this book. I highly, highly recommend it for any parent, desperate about sleeping or not. It helped me with other parts of raising babies, too, such as setting limits and boundaries in a clear but loving way, and also just ENJOYING them.
The other Problem cropped up not long after the first was solved. Our Hummer began throwing the absolute worst tantrums you have ever seen. It got to where he was angry nearly all the time.
I wondered if it was a delayed response to the trauma of Benjamin’s death. Two days after his funeral, my grandfather died and we all had to go to Arizona immediately. Me, because I was still very much recovering from the C-section and and Chris had gone back to work—I needed my mom’s help. So it was that a few days after being at Benjamin’s funeral, 3-year-old Hummer went to Great-Grandpa’s funeral. When he came back from the viewing he would only whisper. It was for several months that he whispered, especially around other people. At home sometimes he would talk in a normal voice, but never when he was with other people.
Anyway, he eventually went back to normal talking, and seemed happy enough until late 1st grade, when these angry spells began. I pulled him out of school to homeschool him, thinking that more time with a happy mom was what he needed. I wondered if his being home alone with me for that whole depressive episode while I grieved had harmed him.
I arranged for him to start counseling with a wonderful lady who specializes in children’s therapy. He absolutely loved her, and the days he had counseling were always his best days. She also gave me the comfort I needed by deducting that Hummer had suffered no permanent emotional scarring from the events mentioned above. She said he was just fine.
Months went by and the tantrums continued and worsened. He got bigger and the destruction got more intense. I was really struggling with staying calm myself and seeing that the time with “a happy mom” was not what was happening here. And so, it was back to the books. I’d read Love and Logic, Haim Ginott, John Rosemond, Dr. Dobson, Dr. Sears, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, and many more, but again, either too harsh or too lenient. We quit counseling, and I kept searching.
This time I was led to a very talented lady named Nicholeen Peck. I had read her articles often at Meridian Magazine, and at first I didn’t think much except general agreement with her ideas. But as this situation with Hummer became a full-blown crisis that was making our family miserable, I started to feel that she knows more than I had realized. I went to her website and found a video of her family when they were on the BBC show The World’s Strictest Parents, where two rebellious British teens are sent to their Mormon homeschooling home in rural Utah. Watching that video changed my life forever. I saw her handle that out-of-control behavior with such beautiful calmness and grace. I saw the change that came about in those teens because of her clear teaching and unconditional love combined.
Now I knew that it is possible to stay calm and to teach children effectively—I just didn’t know how yet. I combed through her website, reading absolutely everything, and despite misspellings and grammatical errors that usually cause me to dismiss information, I was feeling an increasing excitement that I was really onto something this time!
Last Thanksgiving when she gave a limited-time offer for a huge discount on her Implementation Course, I snatched it up with glee and began an amazing journey. There are 10 steps on the course that are supposed to take about 6 months. Nearly a year later, I am on step 9. It has been wonderful—I am learning so much and changing so many thought patterns that it is for good reason that it’s taken such a long time.
You don’t have to sign up for her course, though. She has a book, too, which comes with the course or can be bought separately. It is full of cringe-inducing typos, but is worth the effort for the literal mine of truly valuable content. Also she has tons of free articles on her website.
Nicholeen Peck is a woman on a mission! Her ideas are water-tight and so helpful, although they do take work to implement. It is hard to make a change in the way you parent! You parent all day every day and the habits are so ingrained from your parenting experiences so far and also from what you grew up with. But her writings and her class have really helped me begin that change, and our family has been greatly blessed by her work.
Here are some of the ideas she teaches:
– family relationships are the most important thing in life
– someone who is calm has power
– assertive, not passive or passive-aggressive (I LOVE her explanation of this! I apply it all over my daily life.)
– a marriage needs to be strong as the foundation for a happy family
– a family needs vision of what they want to be like
– there are four basic skills that are key to good relationships
– to teach a child, connect
– you can’t connect if either of you is not calm
– you don’t HAVE to correct a negative behavior the second it happens, but be sure you do after you are both calm
– the goal is not well-behaved children, rather joyful adults (this one had me at first, but I am coming to see she is right)
– have couple’s meetings and family meetings (the way she says to do them, they are fun, I promise!)
– have regular mentor sessions with your children
There are many more. If you are on her Implementation Course there are weekly conference calls with her where she answers questions. I have had her answer four of my questions since beginning the class, and she is now one of my favorite people on this planet. She took time to really understand what I was asking and what my situation was, and then very thoroughly answered the question, giving ideas that often surprised me but also amazed me with their brilliance. She is inspired and inspiring. My perfect world has her along with my sisters living on the same street with me. :)
So there are 10 steps on the Course. By step 8, we had our Hummer back. You would not believe the change in him unless you saw it first hand. He went from tantrumming / breaking things / kicking / shrieking every single day any time he was expected to do something to. . . . well, just this morning, I said, “Hummer, I need you to go change your pants. Those look dirty. Okay?” And he said, “Okay”, grabbed some clean pants and went straightaway to do it.
The things I have learned / am learning are helping with the other children, too, in the more everyday parenting challenges, and also they are strengthening my marriage. There is a special place in heaven for Nicholeen Peck. I am forever grateful for her!
SO, if you have a baby who won’t sleep and you know you will feel guilty letting them cry, DREAM BABY GUIDE. And if you are at your wits’ end trying to teach your children to behave, visit teachingselfgovernment.com.
No one is paying me to say this. :)
(note: I just saw on Amazon that the Dream Baby Guide has sky-rocketed in price since I bought it. You can request that your library purchase it. That’s what I did before I decided I wanted my own. :)