The "Should" Battle

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Should’s take the joy out of life.

He should be sleeping through the night.

He should be crawling by now.

He should be put down awake.

WTH. Really?

We did some gentle sleep coaching when Wes was 6 months old. We stayed in the room and soothed him – only until he was drowsy, not asleep. After months of several night wake ups, it was important for the health of the entire family, that he learned to self soothe. Even the dogs looked exhausted night after night!

Wes eventually got himself to sleep in 5-10 minutes. We put him down and watched him drift into slumber land. When it worked, it was peaceful and beautiful, except I truly missed the connection. Holding, hugging and loving. When it didn’t work, he fussed for several minutes and it was anything but peaceful. Stressful for everyone.

Most “sleep experts” say I shouldn’t hold him excessively before bed, that he shouldn’t have a pacifier to sleep and that I’m doing everything wrong if I’m letting my baby fall asleep on me.

I love cuddling. For a minute, I spent more time cuddling with my fur babies than my human one. Because someone with authority said I shouldn't cuddle him to sleep =/. I’m embarrassed to say that I needed to hear that it was ok to hold my baby – I needed permission (thank you, Simcha).

To hell with it.

I know what comes with the territory if I let him take each nap on me and I don't do that. But like everything in life, I believe in balance. Once we got a handle on this going-down-awake thing, I got to enjoy cuddling with my baby before naps and bedtime. He sleeps well through the night now, the going down part is very rarely a struggle -- it fills my love tank and is often my favorite part of the day. It's the connection I need when my energy is low. 

Since I've cuddled and rocked him to sleep, we have all been sleeping better. And the moments right before he goes down, have been where we’ve had some very special bonding (see my post about Structure & Flow).

Take all the shoulds you hear with a grain of salt and find what works best for you. You are the expert of your own life and if mama is doing what works best for her and the family, everyone will thrive.

What’s something you’ve heard you “shouldn’t” that you’ve found your own way through? What were the rewards? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below!