So here are the circumstances we currently find ourselves in: we are living in a sleep regression nightmare. Just absolute hell. Let me explain just how screwed up we are.
We have gotten into a situation where our sweet little baby will not go to sleep before 6 or 7 am. I mean, 6 or 7 am! Sometimes later. Then, he will sleep until 3 pm, waking once or twice for bottles, and then he’ll go back to sleep a bit later for a long evening nap. What in the actual f@#k?!
Everyone is delirious and no one is happy (or productive, for those of us in the house trying to also hold down a full-time job).
Granted, we have ourselves to blame for most of it. We live a rather free-wheelin’ lifestyle. Both of us work remotely (mostly) and have rarely ever had to keep a schedule. We frequently pull all-nighters because we are chronic night owls (but more like 3 am bedtimes, not 6 freakin’ am!). We also travel whenever we feel like it, which can also be disruptive for a baby’s schedule, although on the plus side, he has already been to 15 American states at 9 months.
The digital nomad lifestyle, or at least how we live it, has given us rough habits to break. We have a game plan to fix this trainwreck, and it is going to work, damn it!
Push His Bedtime Forward, Not Backward
Because his days and nights are so mixed up, I had been considering the option of putting him to bed later and later rather than trying to get him to go to sleep earlier. My pediatrician confirmed that this is what she would recommend and that they often use this tactic in teenagers who have this problem. One benefit of this method is that you’re trying to work with the baby’s actual rhythms to put them to sleep rather than forcing them to go to sleep or cry it out, which we’ve found to be pretty impossible to do anyway. It still allows him to get as much sleep as he needs, which is so important for his developing brain.
Routine is Everything and Buy In is Key
I have been wanting to put him on a schedule for a while, basically since I have begun weaning him, because weaning is harder without a defined routine. I blame my boyfriend for the lack of success here because I received a lot of resistance to changing our flexible lifestyle, and without buy-in from both of us, it just wasn’t going to work. After a week and a half of sleep disturbance, I finally have the support I need. Fact: you do have to adjust your lifestyle for a baby. Fancy that!
Baby Exercise and Stimulation
We are not here yet, but I want to be sure to include enough exercise and daily stimulation for the baby to make him naturally tired. We were able to accomplish this when his sleep occurred during more normal hours, but this is difficult to do when we’re all exhausted. Not only does the baby need to get out of the house more, I need to get out of the damn house! Not being awake during daylight hours severely limits what you can go out and do with a baby.
Calming Rituals Before Bed
Exercise, food, bath, sleep. Maybe some story time also mixed in before bed. A simple ritual for when we’ve worked his schedule back around the clock. Once we return to something resembling normal, we can be a bit more sophisticated about it, but I’m currently looking only for the achievable. Since we are living in the land without time, we have worked out a schedule that we can live with that satisfies our own needs while also scheduling meals and this nightly ritual designed for better baby sleep.
Wish us luck. We desperately need it!