Confessions Of A Sleep Therapist


By Good Night Consultant

There is a saying that goes: “The cobbler’s children go unshod”. Simply put, the son of the shoemaker has no shoe…. Very often, the cobbler spends so much time looking after his customers’ needs that he has no time for his children’s.

I often find myself in the same predicament. Imagine the pressure I feel when we go on holiday with friends. Because I am a sleep therapist, everyone assumes that my child never, ever, EVER wakes up. So when my little fella has a rough night, I feel like I am under the spotlight, and that my friends might be changing their opinions of my chosen passion. Or when we have friends over for a grown-up meal, my child decides that playtime extends beyond 7pm, leaving me pink-faced while explaining how he usually goes down without any fuss.

Luckily, my mom’s sage remarks that children are God’s way of keeping us humble have really helped me to take child-rearing, and sleep-training, in my stride. My best laid plans for a solid sleep routine can go awry in an instant! My child remains a two year old, and toddlers will test boundaries continuously. I am NOT a supermom (as hard as it is to admit!), and with that realisation, I have decided to share some of my confessions about parenthood and my son’s sleep patterns. And once you read these, I am sure it’ll bring back memories of your own faux pas’ concerning raising your little ones…

1. I once forgot my son in the car

I once stopped to pick-up my domestic worker shortly after my son was born and I forgot him in the car! I was so new to parenting that I completely forgot I had a child! (Don’t judge me J)

2. I gave my son sedatives to make him sleep

Before I became a sleep specialist, and before I knew there was help (or that programmes existed to help parents craft the children’s sleep habits) I took a nurse’s advice and sedated my child to get him to fall sleep. I could not take the 45 minute wake-ups anymore and I was desperate. What made me feel even worse, was that the sedatives did not even help!

3. I often sneak into my son’s bedroom to watch him sleep

I know I must be disturbing his sleep patterns, but sometimes I just can’t help myself and silently sneak into his room and watch him sleep. I don’t think I can ever grow tired of his peaceful, relaxed little face.

4. Maintaining a disciplined sleep pattern is just too much of an effort sometimes

Consistency is incredibly important for all children; especially toddlers. However, when our family recently spent a few nights’ camping in the Kruger National Park, we had to share a tent with our toddler. Bedtime came, and the excitement of seeing wild animals for the first time, coupled with being able to hear every word the adults were saying was too exciting for him, which caused bedtime to become a disaster. Instead of staying consistent with our sleep “rules” I gave him some milk before bedtime, thinking it would keep my sanity during our time of relaxation (insert gasp here). However, we paid the price. We woke up five times during that night with the little guy asking for more milk. On the second night, we reverted to our better judgement and stuck to the routine he was accustomed to and our little sleep superstar slept his usual 11 hours without a peep… IN A TENT! Hail the routine!

5. Sometimes Barney becomes my best friend

If you have been following my newsletters you know that I am not an advocate of any television before bedtime. But on days when the line in Pick-‘n-Pay is too long, when road construction has made me late for ALL my meetings, when my e-toll account arrived in my post-box…. These are the days that I require a mere 10 to 15 minutes of recollecting myself during the so-called “suicide hour”. During this time I cuddle my toddler on the couch and realise that Barney’s “I love you, you love me” song makes for a lovely mantra while mentally deciding what to prepare for dinner.

Today is about celebrating your efforts at raising children! You are doing the best you can, and rest in the fact that you already know what’s best for them. Laugh about your shortcomings and mistakes, and enjoy the journey of helping these little people grow up to be responsible, well-adjusted adults. Viva parenthood!