When we’re gathering with friends and family often, those gatherings are likely to fall around sleep times occasionally.
If you’ve worked hard to make sleep happen in your house, you’ll likely be showing up late, leaving early, or not going to some of the holiday events you’re invited to.
And that’s ok!
Having an independent sleeper does mean you can be flexible with the sleep schedule on occasion, but this time of year, there are a lot of “occasions” close together. So, sometimes the flexibility needs to be with how we approach an event more than how we approach the sleep schedule.
How you go about doing that will be very dependent on your individual situation and, unfortunately, some people won’t like what you decide. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about, how to handle comments about your decision to work around your child’s sleep schedule instead of an event’s schedule.
1. Be confident in why you’re making the decision you’re making.
You know your child best and, though we’re always learning more about their needs and limits, you have a much better idea than anyone else. If you feel that pushing their nap time or bedtime would cut it too close to or breach their limit, you’re allowed to set the boundary you need to set, even if you’re the only one that agrees with it.
Plus, you are the one that has to live with your child, manage the over-tired tantrums, the middle-of-the-night wake-ups, or the early mornings.
Whatever your reasoning for choosing to be late, dip out early, or skip an event, it can very much be a form of self-care (even if you can’t blame it on nap time or bedtime).
2. Prepare yourself for the comments + have a “script” ready.
Hopefully not every comment you receive about not going, coming late, or leaving early will be rude or passive-aggressive. But, there are no guarantees. So, prepare for them.
Have a script ready for any comment someone makes and give it with as much love and compassion as you have. Keep it honest (so don’t say, “We would love to be there!” if you would not love to be there) and to the point. Then, take a breath and change the subject. People love to talk about themselves, so a subject change to them as the subject is a good place to start. Here are some examples:
“We really value our sleep! (pause) How was your trip this past summer?”
“This is the best choice for our family. (pause) Have you read any good books lately? I’m always searching for a new read!”
“With all that’s going on this time of year, we had to make some sacrifices. (pause) Do you have any big plans for the coming year?”
3. Choose not to take it personally.
I know that sometimes this can be easier said than done (especially for those of us that tend to be people-pleasers most of the time). And actually, I recently saw a post saying we should take things personally that seem to directly affect us, but why would we choose to do that when all it does is cause turmoil inside us? Because it is a choice and we can choose to let it go.
If our decisions aren’t made to be taken personally, we don’t need to take the reaction to our decisions personally.
The two best ways I can think to do this are with compassion for the person and reframing how we interpret the situation.
Here are a few ways to use compassion and reframe someone’s displeasure with our choices (that aren’t a direct offense to them).
As it can be easy for us to take a comment personally, a passive-aggressive one or not, others may take our decision to honor the sleep schedule personally. We cannot control that, but we can express that the decision to honor our child’s sleep schedule isn’t a direct reflection of how we feel about them.
The desire our family and friends have for us to be with them longer can be taken as a compliment, they want to spend lots of time with us and our kids, instead of a judgment on how we choose to parent.
Our family and friends may not understand our choices for various reasons.
They don’t have kids.
They have kids but their priorities are different.
They have grown kids and “never let the clock dictate their days”.
So much has changed in the way of parenting within the last few generations; how we understand and view children may be vastly different than how our grandparents view them. Plus, we know more now about the importance of sleep and how to promote it that previous generations didn’t. This doesn’t mean we can’t glean so much wisdom from our parents and grandparents in regards to parenting! It only means we may handle some of the nuances differently - and that’s ok! Show them grace.
Whatever their reasoning for the comments may be,
it’s ok if they don’t agree.
It’s ok to stand up for what you know to be right for your family.
It’s ok if that’s hard.
You’re not alone!
I’d like to believe that every family genuinely means well and just wants to spend time with each other, yet sometimes has a hard time communicating that well.
But, sadly, I know that that’s not always the case. There are people that hurt people and know that’s what they’re doing. Most of those hurtful people have a family and you may be one of the members. Maybe even a close family member.
And if that’s your case, I’m sorry!
Boundaries are crucial for everyone with easy and difficult families alike
and I hope you found these tips helpful and encouraging!
If you need more encouragement, reach out to me on Instagram! I’d love to be your cheerleader.