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How To Sleep Train As A Single Parent

I sometimes get emails from people who say the Sleep Sense Program assumes that there are two parents present, and that I don’t have enough tips for single parents.

You can absolutely sleep train on your own. I’ve helped thousands of parents do it, since sometimes, even when you do have a partner, they can be unwilling to help. (Which is irresponsible, unfair, and completely self-centered, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Of course, I’m aware of the fact that there are many parents out there who are shouldering the load all on their own, and I salute them for their unparalleled efforts. Raising a child is hard enough with two active, involved parents. Doing it with one is borderline heroic.

So, with those noble single parents in mind, here are a few tips for sleep training when you’re flying solo.

1. Recruit some support

Sleep training on your own can be a bit tiring for the first few days, so if you have a friend or family member who keeps telling you to let her know if you need anything, well… now you do! You need support. Even if that means just having a friend come over for a few hours so you can take a nap, or to act as a sounding board should you happen to need one.

I often find that parents, especially new ones, have a tendency to think that they have to live up to some unrealistic “super-mom” image, and that asking for help makes you seem as though you’re somehow an inferior parent.

But think about it from the opposite side. If your best friend called you up and said, “Could you do me a huge favor? I’m exhausted and I was wondering if you might come watch the baby for a couple of hours so I can just sack out for a bit,” would you think any less of her?

Of course you wouldn’t, and your friends and family won’t think any less of you. In fact, typically, your friends feel great about themselves when they get a chance to help you out, and your parents are probably looking for any excuse to get a couple of extra hours with their grandchild.

So don’t try to be a hero. Call in your teammates when you need them. That’s what they’re there for.

2. Take a break when you need one.

That doesn’t mean stop the program; that just means that if you are doing the Stay in the Room Method and you feel like you need a break, then take one.

It’s ok to leave the room for a few minutes, go take a breather on the front porch, or pour yourself a cup of tea. (Or something stronger!) Your baby will be ok if you leave the room for a few minutes, as long as it helps you stay on track and remain committed to the program.

Also, if you’re following the Stay in the Room Method, try putting on some headphones and listening to some soothing music or an audio book while you’re waiting for your baby to fall asleep. It can help the time go by a little faster and help occupy your mind with thoughts besides, “When is he finally going to fall asleep?”

Remember, you’ve got to take proper care of yourself if you’re going to take proper care of your baby; especially as a single parent. If your nerves are frazzled and you’re constantly at the end of your rope, you’re going to be hard-pressed to deliver the energy, encouragement and enthusiasm that your child needs.

When you get to feeling that it’s all just a bit too overwhelming, step back, take a few moments for yourself, and go back in after you’ve had a chance to rejuvenate. You’ll be surprised what a difference a few minutes can make.

3. Celebrate success.

The first night a baby sleeps right through is a beautiful thing! If you are doing it on your own, make sure you pause and celebrate this big achievement for both you and your baby.

The truth is, as a single parent, you’re tackling one of the most demanding callings there is. (No days off, on-call 24/7, lousy pay, and an irrational, demanding boss.) The truth is, you’ve got a reason to pat yourself on the back just for getting through each day!

So when you do reach those milestones, make sure you take the time to reward yourself for a job well done. Plan a little outing for yourself, pop a bottle of champagne, or order in your favorite dinner. You’ve earned it.

As a single parent, the one commodity you probably wish you had a lot more of is time, so check out my best-selling Sleep Sense Program and see how you can get your child to start sleeping for 10 – 12 hours straight through the night!

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The Sleep Sense Philosophy

Cry-it-out? Coddle? Co-sleep? Attachment parenting? Ferberizing?
If you’re going to let me help you with something as precious as your child’s sleep, you probably want to know a little bit about who I am and exactly how I think...

Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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