If you’re here today, not as a regular reader, but because you searched “how to survive the eighteen month sleep regression,” let me be the first to say, I’m sorry. I have been there, it sucks monkey balls or any other testicles you can’t fathom having in your mouth, and I feel for you.
As an aside, this is not going to be your typical sleep regression article, just in case the scrotum reference wasn’t a dangling and dead giveaway.
By now, you’ve read more articles than you’d like about toddler sleep or lack thereof and while conceptually you understand what’s happening, you just want to know how the fuck to survive it.
Enough is enough already, am I right?
Of course I am. That’s a rhetorical question. No need to respond, but feel free to nod along if it helps keep you awake. If you are here and reading this, I know you have surpassed mere exhaustion and fallen into hallucinations, without the added benefit of an LSD high. Not that I would actually know from experience. Truly, I have engaged in many illicit activities in my time, and yet shrooms and little scraps of paper never made the cut. Go figure.
Baby and toddler sleep regressions are similar to home improvements projects. No matter how long they say it will last or cost, you’ll need to double it. Your child is pretty much the worst contractor on the planet. He doesn’t listen, he doesn’t show up when he’s supposed to and then he takes his frustration and sleep deprivation out on you. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but that’s a tall glass of life for you.
Our most recent sleep regression lasted three very long and seemingly never-ending months, when the typical one caps out at six weeks. Granted, we exacerbated the problem by traveling multiple times and working on new teeth, but try telling a toddler to get on your schedule. That’s about as likely as new parents having energy, an elephant flying an airplane or Donald Trump becoming president. Oh wait…
The good news is the regression will end.
One more time for effect:
The regression will end, I promise you, so go ahead and let out a big sigh of relief. You’ll feel much better, although of course still weary and bone tired. I can’t change that.
I can tell you how to survive it though.
Surviving the 18 Month Sleep Regression
- Coffee is your friend or whatever caffeinated beverage gets you through the day. This is not the time to worry about overstimulating yourself. Instead it’s time to buckle up, caffeinate and ride that train until your toddler eventually falls asleep or you pass out, whichever comes first.
- Wine helps if you run out of coffee. Confession: I drank a sweet glass of white many a night during the tiny dictator’s sleep regression. That is when I wasn’t too exhausted to drink, and yes, for non parents, being too tired to intoxicate oneself is absolutely a thing. A pity, but a thing.
- Send out an SOS. Ask someone, anyone else, to watch your kid for a few hours, especially if you’re a stay at home parent. You need some time apart, and you can use your new found freedom to nap or guzzle more coffee or sip a little booze; whatever floats your weary and war-torn boat. If you have a friend who suffers from insomnia, now is the time to use them.
- Swear like a sailor or enough to make one blush. Yell into a pillow. Moan and wail outside of your child’s prying eyes to relieve a little tension. I’d tell you to exercise, but we all know that’s hard to do on limited sleep and with a toddler attached to your left thigh. I get it.
- Give yourself grace. You might be irritable, on edge, and perhaps not exactly living up to your expectations as a parent, a spouse or a semi-responsible home owner; try not to beat yourself up over it. We all have good days, bad days and days when we say fuck a lot, and that’s OK.
I wish I had more advice to give you. A way to make it stop with a loud click of your super stylish heels (just kidding, parents wear flats) or a subtle twitch of your sweet little button nose. Despite watching far too many episodes of Stranger Things lately, I don’t have those kinds of magical powers. Hmm, maybe I should have tried acid.
Tell me your sleep regressions stories? Also, I’m not advocating using LSD to get you through. In fact, I am in no way an expert nor even a reliable source on the topic, so proceed with an abundance of caution and an extra large mug of coffee.