As a mother, sleep is essential. So what do you do when your 2-year-old is having a hard time sleeping?
My girl just turned 2 and suddenly her sleeping has changed. She used to be an easy sleeper. We’d put her down at 7 and she would sleep all night (since she was 1). We have been so lucky with her, but then suddenly it changed. She now needs more comfort to go down and wakes a few hours after being put to bed. I didn’t know what to do or why, so I looked it up.
In doing my research I have found that the peak time for nightmares and childhood separation anxiety is now. So what am I going to do? How can I help her?
When I really thought about things I realized that for the separation anxiety I could be the rock, the foundation for her. I could show her that I (or my husband) will be there for her. Even when she is having a tantrum or screaming it is our job to provide the love, support, and safe place for her to rest. Relating to sleep we (for now) will tuck her in with all the things she feels comfortable with. Her favourite blankets and a small drink. Then we are sure to keep to her bedtime routine: tuck her in, sing a song or two, prayer and hugs and kisses.
Being consistent, even when things are changing for her, provides comfort. Things changing can even mean the way we leave the room. Before, her fear of being alone came full force when we left the room and close the door. So we made the change to leave her door open and just sit where she can see us (about 15 feet away, she can’t reach out and grab us but still knows we are there).
As she falls asleep, we close the door but if she feels anxiety we are sure to make a noise so she knows we are still there for her (like shushing).
It may seem like a long night, and it was a little bit in the beginning, but now it takes her about 5-10 minutes to fall asleep. The comfort and love she feels in that routine really helps when she does wake up in the middle of the night too.
When she wakes in the night, the routine established earlier in the night keeps her calm as she waits for us to check on her. We do not pick her up this time (unless she is uncalmable) but instead we only tuck her in and speak calmingly to her then my husband and I are then able to leave the room with no problems.
This routine has taken a lot of trial and error and that’s why I feel its important to share. Mothers need sleep, so if this can help just one of my fellow mothers sleep I would be so happy. 2-year-olds can be hard to handle, but when they (and you) get enough sleep life can be just a little bit better.