1. Minimize, or better yet, absolutely refrain from boisterous play with the girls, especially Arielle, by dinner time.
2. Preferably cease all outdoor or social activities by 8-ish in the evening.
3. Change into PJs and start the girls' bedtime routine at 9pm.
4. Steer clear of any possible situations that may result in meltdowns or fights.
5. Talk in soft gentle tones if you must verbalized something, giggle lightly if you must laugh and perform bedtime routine in soft dim lighting and gentle soothing music.
6. Try to stay out of sight while the girls try to fall asleep. However, Arielle is still having separation anxiety, so this part is especially tricky. note to self: require much honing still.
Are the above achievable?
Honestly? We've been trying for 2-3 months now, and still have more nights waking up than none. We actually had a few weeks of success, managing to sleep through the night pretty much night after night. But then, we went on a Phuket trip where Arielle slept in our bed. Then the whole nightmare started all over again.
And then there is the adhering to the specific points.
Let's do a bit of analysis over point 2: Unless we stop having a social life, cut off ties with extended families and live like hermits, it is unlikely that we can cease all social activities by 8-ish every night. Are we being unrealistic or perfectionist? - some might ask. Unfortunately, the answer is no. You see, given our experience, Arielle tend to get sucked into that over-stimulated mode quite badly. Generally-speaking, a night of social outing say till 9-ish hence disrupting her sleep routine is likely to result in her waking her and crying inconsolably 2-5 times a night - for an average of the next 4 nights. As much as we love to spend more time devoting to cell group meetings, church activities, family and social gatherings, we cannot help but have to take into consideration the repercussions for the upcoming nights.
Plus, of course, points such as refraining from boisterous play and avoid meltdowns and fights are no-guarantees given I have not 1 but 2 small children, and children being children: they play, they fight, and scream more often than not.
Say we managed to satisfy all the above 6 points. Is the promise of good night's sleep guaranteed?
Presently? No. As mentioned briefly earlier on, since post-Phuket trip, Arielle had some serious regressions. She would wake up to cry - most of the times to sleep with us or have us within her sight while she falls back asleep in her own bed, occasionally for milk and random items that she grew attached to (a particular book, a stuff toy etc), because she is too hot / too cold / disrupted by noise / itch etc etc, and sometimes, for no apparent reason.
Then why not just shelve this whole sleep-training for now?
Ulikely. Again, our experience with her tells us that we need to be firm and very consistent, and preserver. In the past, we tried giving in to her. Wanna come over to sleep in our bed? Okay. Want to drink milk, in a bottle what's more? Sure! Pat her bum and rub her back? Bring it on.
BUT, eventually, we find ourselves coming to the same worst-case scenario where we give in to every of her requests and just when you thought sh is fully satisfied and nothing can stop he from having a good sleep; she ended up waking up and crying for no reason, inconsolably, and for hours.
Moreover, we do note progresses and improvements in little ways. And we constantly claim these little victories and pray against regressions.
So you see, we can and must only trudge on this uphill battle (although I hate to call it battle but it does seems that way) of sleeptraining our 'lil Miss. Mushroom Head and pray for His wisdom and grace to be upon us.
If you are going through or had experience similar challenges with your little one(s), feel free to share and exchange pointers / encouragement here. We love to hear from you.