The Sassy Housewife is weekly advice column on Momaha.com by Danielle Herzog. She’ll cover the adventures in housewifery — from parenting, entertaining and recipes to the interests of a been-there-done-that and somewhat-know-it-all wife. Sassy Housewife runs every Saturday. Have a question for her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dear Sassy Housewife,
My husband and I are first time parents and we have no idea what we are doing! Our 8-month-old son still wakes up at least 3 to 4 times a night, and I’m realizing that I am barely keeping my eyes open during the day because of all the sleep deprivation. I actually fell asleep with my head next to my bowl of cereal yesterday. I don’t know how to get the little guy to sleep longer at night. I’m open to letting him cry it out because we aren’t even feeding him when he wakes up, but he’ll only fall asleep with us holding and rocking him. I read a few books on the topic of crying it out and they all confuse me. Can you help me please get rid of the bags under my eyes?
Sleepless in My Cereal
Dear Milky Momma,
First of all, pick your head up dear, you are getting milk all over your hair and that’s not how you are supposed to get the ombre hairstyle. Secondly, do not fret, someday you will sleep again. However, I can’t promise that it will be the most wonderful sleep of your life. Unfortunately, as a mother, you are destined the sleep of a samurai warrior where you have one ear open at all times. You’ll be amazed how you can hear your child roll over in their bed while also listening at close range to the snoring of your husband. It must be something that is given to us through hormones during pregnancy. That, and an incredible amount of excess hair that we lose as soon as we figure out how to actually style it.
Back to your lack-of sleep situation. That’s great that you aren’t feeding him at night anymore – that’s the hardest step to let go of. For the sleeping part, let me introduce you to the 5-10-15 system. It’s a version of Ferber, but do not fret, it won’t actually cause you to feel like a terrible parent. Here’s what you do. When the little screamer wakes up crying, let him cry for just 5 minutes. Then, go into his room, and rub his back or face and say, “You’re OK” in a soothing voice. Stay for only 1-2 minutes, then leave the room WITHOUT ever having picked him up. Prepare yourself, he’ll scream bloody murder. Then wait 10 minutes. Repeat what you did before – remember, don’t pick him up. Then wait 15 minutes and do it again. This is the hard part here – you repeat every 15 minutes until he falls asleep. I recommend opening a bottle of wine, turning on some bad tv infomercials and realizing that it can take over an hour or two for him to sleep.
The good news is that usually you only have to do this for a few nights before he figures out that you aren’t going to pick him up and he’ll just sleep through that old routine. It’s important to also do this at naptime to be consistent.
I promise that your child will not need therapy for letting him cry it out a bit. They might need therapy for an array of other things throughout parenting, but not this one. Stay strong, pick a good wine to get you through it, and remember, someday they will go to college and then you stand a chance of actually getting a good night’s sleep. That is if you can somehow figure out a way to tune out the snoring husband lying next to you. I’m still working on that one.
Danielle Herzog, a married mother to two, blogs for momaha every Wednesday. She taught middle and high school students and served as a student counseling advisor in the Washington D.C. area prior to moving to Omaha. She was a project manager for the Washington D.C.-area’s Boys and Girls Club and is currently completing her master’s degree in counseling at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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