When the 18-month sleep regression hit our home a few weeks ago, I could barely remember the last time one plagued our family. I remembered the 4-month sleep regression being particularly hellish, but since then it's been smooth sailing. I'm pretty sure my daughter decided to unleash all her missed sleep regressions when she hit 18 months, though, and was forced to realize there are many things you an only learn about your marriage after the 18-month sleep regression. Guys, these things are not pretty.
My partner and I were actually separated for this last, hellish, toddler-level sleep regression. We spent the two weeks 3,000 miles apart and could not have possibly predicted that our daughter was going to hit a sleep regression during this time and before we booked our tickets to visit our parents. But you can bet we won't be traveling to separate places in the near future or at any point when our daughter has any risk of a sleep regression. (Which might be until she's about 7, but still.)
Toddler sleep regressions are a whole other animal compared to baby sleep regressions. I don't remember negotiating with a tiny toddler terrorist screaming from the other room that she needs a drink and her lovey and a book and a banana and a sausage during any of the last sleep relapses, for example. So it's safe to say this 18-month sleep regression from hell taught me a lot about my marriage, including the following:
Who Can Hear & Who Can't
Because toddler yells are very different from baby whimpers and whines. Although some of my friends' kids have been sounding a lot like hyenas and other wild animals from a very early age, so maybe we just lucked out in the strength-of-screaming department. Either way, my daughter has seemingly caught up to her kid counterparts because, wow, the girl has a healthy set of lungs.
Who's Willing To Go The Distance
My partner and I learned who is willing to go the distance when it comes to conquering the 18-month sleep regression. Since I was on my own with the tiny toddler, that person was me and, well, you bet your you-know-what that I'm going to be demanding praise for months to come.
How Well Your Partner Handles Angry Text Messages
I didn't say I was an angel about the sleep regression, I just said I conquered it. Unfortunately, that meant my husband learned that my coping mechanism for extreme toddler stress is to send angry text messages at all hours of the day and night with no regard for time changes or what may or may not get lost in translation.
How Well Your Partner Negotiate s
At one point, I had my partner on Facetime with my daughter trying to negotiate with her to get the heck to bed so as to avoid epic meltdown number 72 of the week. He was pretty effective until he mentioned "tomorrow," a word our daughter knows (with complete certainty) means bedtime is coming.
How Much You Need The Other Person
Now that our daughter is a toddler, both my partner and I can mostly manage her on our own for long stretches of time (which is different from when she was a baby and both of us were a little iffy about things like bath time or bedtime for, um, quite a while). But boy did we need to tag-team the 18-month sleep regression together rather than apart.
How Well You Work As A Team
The big difference between the early sleep regressions and the 18-month sleep regression is that the latter involves a toddler with freaking opinions and a whole lot more strength. You need to work as a team to figure out a united front to defeat said toddler.
How Much Stress Affects Your Marriage
Obviously stress affects marriage, but for my partner sleep regression stress doesn't really carry over into the rest of our life together. For me, however, the opposite is true and the latest toddler meltdown is all I can think about for hours, which seriously hinders our ability to enjoy the rest of the day.