Wow. I must say that I am overwhlemed by the sheer *volume* of frustration out there. I know we are a self-selected group, bc happy, well-rested parents of Sleepers don't respond to threads like this, but I do not think it would be a stretch to say that this is a real drawback to AP, at least as it is "advertised" these days.
I've been mulling this over for days -- especially as I have been toiling to fix our own little sleep problems -- and I thought I would make a feeble attempt to pull this all together and at least move us in the direction of healing (for lack of a better word) so that we're not just stuck in our frustration and helplessness.
First, let me say, elismom, BusyMommy, PumpkinSeed, Emma, OklahomaMama, nuggestmom, ksmeadowlark, Jennifer Z, and Nanner, you've all been HEARD. I read all of your posts with great empathy, and while I wish I could respond to each of you personally, consider yourselves HUGGED!
(((((((elismom, BusyMommy, PumpkinSeed, Emma, OklahomaMama, nuggestmom, ksmeadowlark, Jennifer Z, and Nanner)))))))))))
Curious and Iguanavere, thanks so much for your words of wisdom and advice. They mean so much coming from mamas who have experienced sleep success.
On a personal note, I wanted to reinforce what Iguanavere said about being very disciplined with the routines . . . This past week my dh was working 20-hr days and I was basically a single mom, so I KNEW I had to get ds to sleep more reasonably.
Thanks to this thread and some others, I came to realize that I have been making several mistakes with ds's sleep:
1) letting him sleep until he wakes up each day (which varied from 7 to 9:45)
2) letting nap times vary according to when he woke up, so that he was going down anywhere from 12:30 to 4
3) letting him nap until he woke up, and sometimes nursing him back down if he seemed grumpy when he woke (so he would sometimes nap for 3-4 hours!)
4) starting the bedtime too late (due to social functions or simply waiting for dh to get home so ds could see him)
I will also admit that I recently read Weissbluth's book on sleep training (something about Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep) and while I think the man has the emotional intelligence of an ACORN (encouraging parents to let 4 mos old babies cry for 4 hours -- please!), I was able to glean a few nuggets of helpful advice -- mostly pertaining to the things I just listed above.
So now we:
1) wake up each day before 8:00, regardless of what kind of HELL we went thru during the night
2) nap at 1:00 (or earlier), no matter what kinds of fun thigns may be going on
3) are out of the bath by 8:15 (even if it means a standing-up sponge bath so we're out in 45 seconds)
and he has been asleep by 9:00 every night since I first posted this thread. (and yes, as dalai_mama said, things do happen to disrupt, but I then put everything into fast forward to make up for it -- and I no longer let social activities disrupt -- very hard!)
Note that I am still putting him to sleep -- slinging, back-rubbing, etc., and we have made NO progress in getting him to fall asleep lying down, but for my own sanity I had to shorten the duration of the falling asleep first. When we've got this down pat (like, this works for a MONTH or more), maybe THEN I will have the energy to try teaching him to help put himself to sleep. (Also note that I am not claiming long-term success . . . I fully realize this could all change at a moment's notice, but for now, we seem to have found a pattern that works.)
And let me tell ya, keeping to this pattern is HARD. And it is NOT the AP I read about in any of the Sears lit. THIS is where I think we all have been lead astray . . .
Sear and others convinced us early on that if we just "follow babies cues" and "respond to baby empathetically and lovingly" that all would be rosy. Frankly, I think Bill and Martha are either full of it, or they have conveniently forgotten, bc there is no way in HELL those people had 7 babies and NONE of them were sleep-fighters. Maybe they were doing something so obvious to them that they neglected to write about it, but in any case, as wonderful as they are, and as much as they have done to promote excellent parenting, I belive they have missed the mark on this one. (trying to avoid any flaming here)
I also think that the AP message has been that if you just "incorporate baby into your lives" that you'll be happiest. And for many, many months, this was true and I wouldn't change a thing.
I believe that AP parents do much of what they do in an effort to put Baby first. They are self-sacrificing, selfless, empathetic, and hard-working. And it now appears to me that in order to put Baby first, that is, so that Baby gets the sleep s/he needs, AND save our sanity at the same time, we must make some sacrifices during the day. It is SO much easier for me to sleep until 9:30, especially after he has woken 6 times in 6 hours!, or to let him nap for 3 hrs (what a break!), or to keep him out late at a fabulous outdoor concert.
And don't misunderstand me -- if this is still working for a family, more power to you! But if you are burning out like me (and nearly everyone above) then I think it's time to act more like a "traditional" parent who watches the clock very carefully.
And it's trade-off. There are some definite feelings of being trapped . . . can't stay at the pot-luck past 7, and it didn't start until 6 . . . can't go out to dinner bc dh got home form work too late, etc, etc.
One other thought: It seems to me that for AP parents, CRYING is to be avoided at all costs (it has been in my house) -- not that we don't let ds feel his sad or angry or hurt feelings, but extended crying jags related to sleep have been avoided like the plague! But you know, people who nightwean experience some crying, and happily report that their children are not adversely affected -- and I believe them that their children's trust has not been violated -- so why it is that we couldn't have a little crying as we try to learn to fall asleep?
I know, I know, there's a fine line that none of us want to cross, but I guess I'm wondering if we all aren't so afraid of the crying that we haven't really given our babes a *chance* to learn to fall asleep. (flames may fly for that one!)
I feel certain some of you already do all these things I'm suggesting, and they still don't work for you. But are there any others of you who are making similar mistakes as I was, and if so, do you think you want to try shifting? You don't need to answer me -- it's more food for thought.
One thing I KNOW FOR CERTAIN after my 21 mos as a mother is that NOTHING will work for EVERYONE. SO I would never presume to prescribe a program with a "guarantee" (blows my MIND when the "sleep experts" do!). I guess I'm just grasping at straws.
And if I could make helping AP parents get their children to sleep AND STILL AP my life's work, I think I would go for it.
Sorry for the novella. I just couldn't STAND to post a thread where all we do is wallow in our frustration . . . I want AP to WORK, DAMMIT!
(P.S. I know at least one person has posted while I was writing -- hope this won't be redundant!)