There’s a lot written out there on sleep training. One peek at the comments section of this article and you can see just how polarizing and utterly absurd the whole issue has become. Nate and I chose to sleep train when our baby was three weeks old. It worked for us. However, this is not a post about why sleep training is amazing (and you should know the answer to that anyway). As far as I’m concerned, the parties on either side of the debate show great concern over the welfare of babies and mothers, which, in the big picture, is a wonderful thing.
This is more about the personalities of parents who opt in to sleep training. I have a theory that while the demands of sleep training include setting rigorous, disciplined schedules, it is not suited for adults who set rigorous, disciplined schedules for themselves. As with any groundbreaking theory, I am basing this entire case study on one example: me.
While physically active, ambitious, and probably the most punctual person you have ever met, I am thoroughly Type B. Towels linger on my bathroom floor. I haven’t separated my laundry into whites and colors in nearly 15 years (zero pinks shirts in 5,400 days and counting!). When asked where I see myself in five years, my response is usually “stuff!” I ran a marathon in 2013 because – and I’m not joking – the relentless training gave me a free pass to watch TV all day and drink a bunch of chocolate milk in the name of recovery. 26.2 miles for complete vegetation without societal judgement? Worth it.
In college, my family started calling me “Stoner Bro” because I wore my frizzy hair in a low ponytail and I fell asleep during a once-in-a-lifetime safari game drive in South Africa. The nickname stuck as I found myself napping all over the world in an assortment of collegiate sweatsuits.
So how did this lethargic Spin Doctor get her baby to sleep through the night at 4.5 weeks old? Lots of help from Gina Ford, but also a couple of personality traits that I’ve kept tucked away in the deepest pocket of my cargo shorts, among all the receipts:
1. A love of sleep. Nobody, and I mean nobody, loves to sleep more than Stoner Bro. I even married a man that required the same, if not more, amount of sleep. It’s a miracle that we both woke up in time for our 4:00 pm wedding ceremony. Before the baby came along, we used to sleep well into the afternoon every single weekend. There were brunch places in our neighborhood that we didn’t even know existed because the best we could do on a Saturday was “early dinner.” And I’m not even a night owl! I like to be in bed by 10:00! We adopted a six-month-old puppy in the hopes that he would keep us up all night and require brisk, high-energy walks at the crack of dawn. Of course, our sweet Banjo instantly sniffed out the ways of his new home and managed to sleep in longer than we did. We would be showered and preparing Early Dinner before he would even consider his morning pee-pee. So, you can imagine our collective horror when we found out that babies are born without the ability to hit the snooze button and tell the world that she just needs, like, 9 more minutes, man. Babies would have to be taught, and never has a task been more important in my entire life.
2. Cool in the face of uncertainty. Stoner Bro is ok when things get wildly out of control. Getting a baby on a sleep schedule is a disastrous uphill battle on its own, without even considering the additional hormone bombs and wine tears. But, these things that are beyond our control happen in life. I’ve moved five times in the past nine years and balanced various full time and freelance jobs to keep up with our nomadic lifestyle. The turmoils of moving require a special level of patience, the kind that allows you to surrender as your husband wrestles a futon into a trashcan because he couldn’t sell it on Craigslist. Or turn a blind eye when the Bag of a Thousand HDMI Cords resurfaces from the depths of a forgotten closet (thank you for this, The Onion). Or get married, euthanize the dog, and move across the country over the course of three weeks, as did a few years ago. (Our dog was very old and had cancer. Plus, we heard it was good luck to put down a dog after a wedding.) Like sleep training, these things seem like setbacks, but are actually working towards something better. Except for the futon. There is no happy ending in the world of futon disposal.
Most importantly, whether it’s life’s obstacles or baby tending, there’s always a cold beer at the end of the day.
Am I trying to say that I’m the only person in the world who loves sleep and has moved apartments before? Yes! I don’t get out of the house much so I don’t really know what anyone else is up to. All I’m saying is that if you’re going through sleep training now, just remember how much you love sleep and that you’ve survived setbacks before. And that safaris are overrated, man.