Sometimes We All Need a Sleep Reset

Earlier this winter, my three-year-old came down with a nasty case of the flu. Over the course of the week, he spent 12 hours a day binge-watching Santa’s Buddies on repeat, eating popsicles by the dozen, and being brought into our bed in the early morning when his fever spiked.

By the end of the week, we had created a monster.

Once he was back in tip-top shape, he still expected unlimited screen time, ice cream galore, and sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night. Refusal of any of the above were met with angry tantrums and fake coughs to convince us he was still sick.

A lot of families tell me similar stories as it relates to their children’s sleep: First you add a few more books to the bedtime routine. Then a few songs. Then a few extra check-ins. Before you know it, bedtime is a two-hour process and you’re sleeping on your child’s floor so he’ll stay in bed. And if you try to deviate from the new normal… all hell breaks loose.

These situations happens to the best of us. I’ve never met a family who, at some point, didn’t need a sleep reset for their child. So let’s chat about how to wrangle back control of sleep once its spiraled out of control.

First off, have an honest conversation with your partner. What are your sleep goals for your child? Some parents might be totally cool if their little one sneaks into their bed overnight, but they don’t want to spend more than 15 minutes on the bedtime routine. Others may be fine with a long bedtime routine but want to preserve at all costs the sanctity of the parental bed. Whatever your goals are, agree on them, write them down and post them somewhere visible to keep you all on track.

Secondly, figure out an action plan. While there’s no one-size-fits-all sleep plan, there is one key to success: Consistency. Decide what you approach you want to take and commit to following through consistently for at least a week. No child will easily accept a new change right away -- most kids hate change! Assume they won’t be on board with the new plan right away… but that they will in time.

Lastly, remember that you’re in charge. I have a stubborn preschooler so know well the feeling that you’re being controlled by a tiny human whose emotions and preferences vary wildly by the moment. But, let’s face it: we get to make the tough decisions, not them.

Friends, there’s no shame in a sleep reset. Go for it! Just remember: be clear about your intentions and be consistent. You got this.