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Child Sleep and Parental Guilt Part 2: How to get the sleep and drop the guilt

child sleep and parental guiltFrom Part 1 of my child sleep and parental guilt post till now I have discussed this topic several times a day in phone support with my clients and with girlfriends.

We all feel guilty at some point.

This parenting thing we do is a very personal matter.

When it comes to sleep, no matter what everyone else is doing, here are the questions to help guide you into whether or not YOU need to change what YOU are doing with YOUR child.

  1. Do you feel that your child is getting enough sleep for his/her developmental stage?
  2. Are you unsure? If so read on…

The best way to know this is to assess your child’s behavior throughout the day. Behavior and mood are the best signals that your child is or is not getting enough sleep.


  1. Does he/she look visibly tired at any point of the day.
  2. Does she/he wake up 30 – 40 minutes after nap starts. Does he wake screaming and clearly looking like more nap is needed.
  3. Does he become cranky, have tantrums, or become incapable of handling situations that he can handle with ease after being well rested?
  4. Does he get a second wind and appear to be wired or bouncing off of walls at a time that used to be set aside for nap,”quiet time”, or right before bedtime at night?
  5. Is she having difficulty falling asleep before 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.?



The classic time in  most households for a yes answer to the questions #1 and #3 above is 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. each day.

4-5 p.m. is historically known as the arsenic hour my only questions are…

do I get to take the arsenic or dish it out?

If you notice any of the following you might need to make the bedtime earlier. Some children can handle an 8:00 asleep time before they are in grade-school. However I find most young children do best with a 7:00 – 7:30 asleep time.

According to the chapter titled “The Missing Hour” in Po Bronson’s book  Nurture Shock, children are getting an hour to two hours less sleep as compared to 30 years ago. We have not changed enough biologically in that short time to need less sleep.

The number one factor in contributing to less sleep is…parental guilt

  1. In most household both parents are now working, a big factor in child sleep and parental guilt.
  2. We are working longer hours. Therefore, we want more time with our children and we let them stay up later to get it.

Even in homes where mom is either staying home or mom is working from home I often hear that dad’s want to keep babies up in order to spend time with them before bed. This missing one – two hours of sleep can have a profound effect on development and health.

Here again notice the behavior and mood of your child.

  1. Is your child falling asleep in the high chair during dinner.
  2. Can you barely make it through the sleep routine of bath, story and bedtime without a meltdown or tons of tears?
  3. Does your child cry the moment you start heading into the sleep ritual?
  4. Does your baby crash on the breast before you make it to side two? Or finish the bottle?

Ok now that you have taken the above test on behalf of your child you can work with those answers and either find a solution or pat yourself on the back for having the sleep routine and schedule that works for you and your family.

If you answered yes to it all and you are left hold a big pile of stinky guilt then congratulations, you have the awareness. Awareness is where we can start to make changes.

  1. Awareness – Something needs to change
  2. Acceptance – This is not a passive step. This is important and can be the hardest step in making lasting and meaningful changes. Accepting the way it is with gentleness and compassion for the reasons we did what we did is a great place to begin #3 below. Believe me, I can find smart and good reasons why every parent does what they do as far as sleep is concerned.
  3. Action – I am here to help you with any and all steps on the path to better sleep! Sometimes that help sound like, “You are doing it just right!”

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