Being a single parent comes with its own set of challenges, and one of the most common concerns is how to best care for your child and yourself. Shout out to all of you who are solo parenting! As a single mom myself, I know how hard it is to create the time and space for adequate self care. Whether you’re in this position due to your partner’s work schedule, military deployment, or you’re divorced and co-parenting like me, first know that you aren’t alone.
When single parents realize the value of getting great sleep, they often wonder how to tackle sleep training as a single parent. Before we get into how and why, first know that I can say with conviction how incredibly rewarding it is to have a sleep trained baby.
How to Handle Sleep Training as a Single Parent
You might be wondering if you can handle sleep training on your own. I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can! My best friend will soon be a single mom after she finishes her IVF journey, and you better believe I’m going to help her sleep train her baby! In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of sleep training and provide you with the encouragement and tips you need to embark on this journey with confidence.
The Importance of Sleep Training, Regardless of Relationship Status
Sleep is crucial for both babies and parents. Adequate sleep helps your baby grow, develop, and become more alert, while also allowing you to recharge, making you a better parent. Sleep training can be a game-changer for single parents, as it promotes a consistent sleep schedule, reduces sleepless nights, and helps both you and your baby get the rest you need. Quality sleep plays a big role in the learning process, memory is consolidated and growth hormones are being released while our little ones sleep!
According to the Mayo Clinic, getting enough sleep is one of the ways our bodies produce infection-fighting antibodies that boost our immune system. Sleep does the body good, so take a second to pat yourself on the back for doing something incredible for both you and your child!
Tip 1 for sleep training as a single parent – Believe in Yourself
First and foremost, believe in your ability to sleep train your baby. Remember that you are already doing an amazing job as a single parent, and this is just another challenge that you can conquer. Your determination and love for your child are your greatest assets.
As parents, our job is to love, care for and nurture our children. Sleep is a skill, therefore it is a skill that we as parents can lovingly teach our children. You can find comfort in knowing that quality sleep is important for growth and development, and we are setting our children up for success by teaching them this skill. Remind yourself that we all NEED sleep!
When I was sleep training my son I knew that I would be doing it alone. I was in charge of all nighttime feedings, wake ups, naps, and if I’m being honest, pretty much everything! Looking back, I may have been a bit of a control freak, but I knew I had to sleep train for my own sanity and so that I could be the best possible mom to my son.
I share this personal experience to emphasize that sleep training is not only achievable for single parents but can also be a game-changer in maintaining your sanity and regaining control over your life. The journey may seem daunting, especially if you are facing it alone, but with determination and the right strategies, you can make it a reality.
Tip 2 for sleep training as a single parent – Set Realistic Expectations
It's essential to have realistic expectations when it comes to sleep training. Understand that it may take some time for your baby to adjust to a new sleep routine. Be patient and don't expect immediate results. Consistency is key, so stay committed to the process.
It is most fair to your child to pick a strategy and stick with it because the more you change things up, the more confused they become, resulting in potentially more confusion and tears. Trust that this process will work and seek out trusted advice from a friend, family member or certified sleep coach if you feel you need additional support.
Tip 3 for sleep training as a single parent – Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment and Establish a Routine
A conducive sleep environment is vital for successful sleep training. Ensure your little one’s crib or bed is safe, comfortable, and free of hazards. Keep the room dark and turn on that sound machine to promote a peaceful atmosphere for sleep.
Create a bedtime routine that signals to your child that it's time to sleep. A warm bath, a soothing song, and a bedtime story can be part of this routine. Consistency is important, so follow the same sequence every night.
If you are co-parenting and sharing custody, it is important to remember that the only routine you can control is the one done at your house and when in your care. As hard as it can be, do not spend time stressing or worrying about the routine that is happening outside of your care. This is one of the struggles of sleep training as a single parent, but it is also an area that we have seen with success plenty of times.
Tip 4 for sleep training as a single parent – Lean on Your Support System
Even as a single parent, you're not alone. Reach out to your support network, be it friends or family, for help and encouragement. They can provide a helping hand when you need a break or a listening ear when things get tough. When I was sleep training my son, I would reach out to my sleep consultant, call my mom and text mom friends with young children to help encourage me. If having a professional sleep consultant on your side during this time feels helpful, book a free sleep intro call with our team to hear more about how we support families during sleep training.
Tip 5 for sleep training as a single parent – Track Your Progress
Keep a sleep diary or journal to track your baby's sleep patterns and progress. This can help you identify what's working and make necessary adjustments. Sometimes when we’re in the thick of things we don’t realize how much growth and progress we’ve actually made!
As sleep consultants, tracking our clients’ progress is one of our biggest assets to success because it allows us to know what is working and what needs to be adjusted. Ensuring that you are following the appropriate wake windows and keeping note of the times your child is awake and asleep is extremely beneficial. You can easily do this on paper, on notes in your phone, or by downloading an app on your phone. It’s much easier to troubleshoot when you have something to reference.
Tip 6 for sleep training as a single parent – Take Care of Yourself
Remember to take care of yourself throughout this journey. Get enough rest when you can, eat well, and don't hesitate to ask for help when needed. A well-rested, healthy parent is better equipped to care for their little one. While I totally recommend an occasional spa day, self-care doesn’t have to break the bank - simply making time to get outside, read your favorite novel, listen to music, take a quick walk or squeeze in a 20 minute workout can make all the difference in the world. Having time to decompress and setting aside a bit of time for yourself is crucial for every parent!
Words from a fellow single mom to you as you begin sleep training as a single parent…
Sleep training was the best choice I could have made for myself and my son. When I went back to work as a teacher, I was able to have anyone step in and put him to sleep for naps. I was able to hang with friends, go on date nights, and have babysitters recreate our bedtime routine, and he would go to sleep perfectly for just about anyone.
As a single mom it is definitely hard not to stress about sleep because we tend to worry that if the other parent or caretaker doesn't do exactly what we do at bedtime and nap, things might derail. But guess what? Babies and children are resilient and quickly learn what is expected of them from place to place. My son still sleeps beautifully whether he’s with me, his father, at daycare, and even on vacation, because he has the skill of sleep. Not only does he know the expectations that I have set for him, but he also loves his sleep! There’s nothing better than hearing your child be able to vocalize that they are tired and ask to go to bed!
Sleep training is an achievable goal for single parents, and the benefits for both you and your baby are worth the effort. Remember, you are capable, and you have the strength to provide your child with a good night's sleep by teaching them this skill. Embrace the journey, stay consistent, and believe in yourself – you've got this! Your child, just like mine, will sleep well and thrive because of the solid foundation you're building.