Does the thought of being tied to a schedule frustrate you? Does it feel restrictive? It can be hard to put aside fun to prioritize sleep. Can you still have a social life after sleep training?
First off, a huge component of sleep training is consistency. It helps your child navigate when and how to fall asleep. Which is a huge parenting win! When your child is sleeping independently through the night and taking long restful naps, it is life-changing.
But do you seriously need to plan your entire life around your child’s sleep schedule?
The Importance of Consistency in Sleep Training
I wish I could say that your social life won’t change after sleep training, but there is an ongoing commitment after you’ve initially taught your child the skills to fall asleep independently. Schedules don’t just go out the window once they’ve mastered sleep.
After you’ve moved past those first couple of nights of intense learning that leads to sleeping through the night, keeping your bedtime and nap time schedule consistent is, in some ways, more challenging. Even though your child isn’t waking up multiple times at night and is a nap superstar, it can still be a bit of a conscious effort to carve your entire day out around your child’s sleep times.
Another way to look at it is that after the learning phase, it’s time to settle into a groove and establish a consistent, maintainable pace.
Consistency Prevents Overtiredness
Why do I stress consistency to my clients? Because even though your schedule seems restrictive, it ensures that your child maintains protest-free bedtimes and it prevents overtiredness. Overtiredness will sabotage your little one’s sleep in a hurry and it can spiral out of control pretty quickly, with one bad nap leading to another one, leading to a lousy bedtime, and so on.
This doesn’t mean you have to be chained to the house and the crib. It means being strategic with your time and prioritizing sleep most of the time. On the flip side, it could also mean that you’re going to miss out on some social events, so you may need to be selective.
What Happens If You Skip The Nap?
Your good friend calls and the only available time to play is during your child’s naptime. It is tempting to rearrange your child’s nap schedule so that you can squeeze in the playdate. Who can resist having another child entertain your son or daughter? They’ll enjoy each other’s company and have fun, right?
Wrong. Think back to when sleep was a struggle. Can you remember your child’s behavior when they were overtired? Guess what? Halfway through your playdate, this behavior will surface. There will likely be a lot of fussing and tears and at that point, neither child is having any fun anymore.
The solution is to stick to your nap schedule and arrange the playdate for another time when your child can be rested, alert, and ready to play with their friend.
Here’s another situation that I am asked about – what about special holidays? You may be tempted to cram as much activity as you can if you’re visiting Disneyland, at a family vacation, or attending a wedding. You might be worried that your child will miss out if you set aside a nap time. But, you’re just asking for a meltdown while waiting in line for the teacups if you skip the nap. Pushing your child through the day will result in an overstimulated, overtired child. And that special holiday will not be pleasant.
Quality over Quantity
Choosing quality of activities on your special day will be more enjoyable than trying to cram everything in. Choose quality over quantity every time.
Plus, here’s the biggest bonus of choosing quality over quantity. Your child will fall asleep a lot easier for others! That means you can leave your child with Grandma and Grandpa or the babysitter worry-free as you enjoy a night out. So, it’s not a total loss to your social life!
Take advantage of your independent sleeper! Schedule date nights with your partner, have a girls’ night with your besties, or book a solo trip to the spa for the day, knowing that your baby will be happy while they’re awake and sleep peacefully for naps and bedtime.
So, the quick answer to whether you can have a social life after sleep training is YES. Of course, with the caveat that you honor your child’s sleep.
However, the key for all of this to happen is having a child to knows how to fall asleep on their own. Are you still struggling with bedtime or developing a schedule that works for your family? We can help.