Our nearly three-year-old Tilly has become unusually clingy at bedtime, refusing to go off to sleep without me staying in her room. At the same time her night-time sleeping started going downhill too with night waking becoming all too regular. As the sleep problems grew, I decided to it was time to try the gradual retreat technique.
Glorious summer days, coats packed away for the season and endless play outside. All true but difficult to enjoy when accompanied by dreadful sleep. It happens every summer and this year is no different. The sun rises at an hour when no sane person should be up and remains high in the sky long past when little ones should be slumbering. It all contributes to hard won sleeping patterns going out the window.
I thought we had a deal, you and me. You’d manage ten hours at night and top up with a hearty daytime nap. Yet what do we have now but ever earlier waking and signs of dropping your nap. Now you’ve left me second-guessing our routine and we both know that one false move will see it all come crashing down around our ears.
Sleep: that commodity so plentiful and easily squandered in your twenties that instantly becomes so hard-won when young children enter the equation. When that young child is a light sleeper it can require fiendish strategic planning to secure each night’s desperately needed rest.
As a parent of an early-rising toddler, the prospect of her waking an hour earlier following the clocks changing fills my heart with dread. An already yawn inducing 5.30am suddenly becomes a brain mushingly early 4.30am. This year we’re using the tactic of moving Tilly’s bedtime later by 10 minutes a night. Even though our timing hasn’t always been quite on target we have found that even a modest change in bedtime has bumped her waking from 5:15 – 5:45, which had become the norm, to around 6am. This was unexpected as previous attempts at making bedtime later have been met with resolute early waking and more grumpiness owing to less sleep.