Weaning a toddler is roughly equivalent to a mild form of torture. Here is the situation: Back in May said toddler was sleeping through the night, nursing less and less, hardly ever during the day. My mom arrive in June for a month and slept in his room. I think he got used to having someone there with him because suddenly he could not be put in his crib alone to fall asleep on his own. Then we were away from home for six weeks, several different beds and without my husband for a good chunk of it. So I ended up with both my 3 year and 18 month olds in bed each night and for naps with said toddler nursing away to maximize sleep for all. The nursing suddenly became all day every day as though he was a newborn, actually worse then a newborn.
Then we got home. He still couldn't sleep on his own and nursed like mad. I'd nurse him to sleep, he'd wake up two hours later, I'd nurse him to sleep again then he'd wake up 45 minutes later, etc…until I gave up and nursed him and stayed in bed with him. No one was sleeping well.
So last night my husband put said toddler (now 20 months old) asleep sans ‘mama's milk'. We have been talking about how we're going to say goodbye to mama's milk and it has become a bit of a joke. He'll grab his dinosaur and say, ‘milk? Noooo…' and crack a smile. All in good cheer.
Last night was tough. It took him a long time to calm down to eventually fall asleep with my husband. He was very upset. Broke my heart. Each time he woke up at midnight and 3am he cried hard for a good while until my husband could settle him.
So that brings us to his morning nap. I put on a sports bra to limit access and went for it. He was so sad, so upset but I held strong. I hugged him, stroked his head and cheek as I felt the tears stream down. I had my moments of weakness where I thought to myself, ‘clearly he wants me and needs me. He is not ready to stop and maybe I am not either.'
Then I'd have a retort for myself: ‘The trade off is that we don't sleep well as he wakes up every hour or so unable to get himself back to sleep. You need him to be able to sleep on his own.'
Plus I miss my husband. We've practically been sleeping in separate beds for months now. Not good.
Eventually after 35 minutes give or take a minute he fell sound asleep. He is sleeping hard. He was exhausted from all the sadness and crying. But we did it. He fell asleep not without me but without nursing. Success. Challenging? Yes. Heartbreaking? Yes. In the end though the short term pain will be worth it for our family. Maybe I just feel the need to write this post for my own therapy and to convince myself I am making the right decision. I also know that I am not alone.
Here are my tips:
- Go with your gut
- Maximize sleep for the family but not while compromising your needs and your relationship with your significant other
- Hug tightly
- Focus on persevering
- Breath deeply and close your eyes (Om Shanti Om)
- Believe in your decision
- Know that your child will still love you
- Be gentle
- Let your child know that you are there for him and that you love him dearly
- Hold the frustration back and kill it with patience and kindness
- Have faith that your child will fall asleep…eventually…and that it'll be wonderful for his body and soul
- Last but certainly not least, if it truly doesn't feel right, re-evaluate why you are doing what you are doing…
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