If you're reading this, you're someone who prioritizes sleep for their little ones. You know that with good sleep, your whole family can be happy, healthy and well rested and you're willing to make adjustments to ensure that that can happen.
But not everyone feels the same about sleep and that can make it feel like you're being judged for how you choose to parent. Here's some tips to keep in mind the next time you feel like you're being criticized for how you handle your child's sleep.
1. Know your WHY
Remind yourself of what things were like before you committed to a solid sleep strategy that works for your family. How did you feel? How did your child feel? How did the night go? What about the next day? Then, remind yourself of how things feel now. Are the choices you make today worth the potential consequences. They might be! That's your choice.
2. Prepare yourself
You're getting ready to go to the event and you know that there's that family member or that friend that never holds back on their opinion and following healthy sleep habits just doesn't seem like their style. Your dreading it to say the least. Preparing yourself with how you're going to handle the situation can help you immensely and help prevent you from getting flustered.
There's different ways that you can handle this situation though, so decide what feels right depending on what your comfort level is and what the situation is. Here's some options:
A. Educate them on your why
The people that are going to make a comment are either the people that genuinely have no idea or they're the ones who style is more "go with the flow". This could be a good opportunity to share with them a little bit about your "why" and the successes that you've had by handling sleep this way [and some of the consequences if you don't].
B. Be vague
Just because someone makes a comment doesn't mean you owe them an explanation.
"Eventually she'll get to the point where we don't have to rock her to sleep, we're moving in that direction" (nobody said anything about what timeline you're on though! )
"Thanks, we'll consider that"
"Thanks, we appreciate your care and concern for our baby"
Or simply just let them talk it out while you just smile and nod!
C. Deflect the conversation
If the conversation really makes you uncomfortable, you don't have to sit in that. Feel free to deflect the conversation to something else, anything else? The food, the weather, sports, or the newest thing your kid has done! Even if it feels like an unnatural transition, everyone will get the hint that you don't want to talk about it.
If you need to, don't feel bad about removing yourself from the conversation. It's okay to walk away.
D. Politely tackle it head on
The joy of parenting is that everyone gets to choose what's right for their family and this is just one of the choices that you get to make. It might help to remind them of this. A few scripts that may help you here include:
"I'm happy that worked well for your family, but this is what works for mine"
"We're happy with the way we've chosen to do things, thank you"
To the comparison "Well we did this and we turned out fine":
"I know that things were different back then and just like our generation, your generation did the best you could with the information that you had but now that we know better, we can do better."
"I know this is coming from a good place and I appreciate the concern but...[enter why it wouldn't work]. Thanks for understanding."
3. Release your frustration
I know first hand that tackling comments about your little one sleep can leave you feeling exhausted and frustrated. You feel like you're on the defense and end up holding that negative energy with you. But that's not healthy for anyone!
It's important that you let it go as they say in Frozen (like we haven't heard that enough) so do whatever you need to do to release that energy. Whether it be going for a walk, journaling, working out or spilling some tea with a friend or your partner. You do what you need to do. Even if it means bringing your phone to the bathroom for a moment of peace and to let your bestie in on what happened in the middle of the party. Sometimes feeling a bit of solidarity and getting listened to is all we need to move on.
4. Don't expect perfection
Last but not least, make sure you set realistic expectations for sleep when you're out at an event. Just because your child is a champion sleeper at home doesn't mean they're going to be able to sleep as well at another house or in a situation that they're not used to. Sometimes even releasing yourself of that pressure can help them sleep better!
You can try your best to make an ideal sleep environment (blackout blinds or a Slumberpod, a sound machine, their sleep sack and lovey...etc) but even if you do everything perfect they might not be able to sleep, and that's okay. Just try for as best of sleep as possible, and not for a perfect sleep.
At the end of the day you know what's best for your child and for your family. Regardless of what other people think, what you choose to do is out of love and respect for your child's sleep needs. Just keep doing what you need to do so that your family can function as a healthy and well-rested unit.
Your Sleep Coach