As a sleep coach, I generally practice what I preach. BUT I'm human too and don't always follow through. Here are a few of my "confessions:"
Sometimes I sleep in my 4 year olds room
I never start the night there, but occasionally he will come into our room in the middle of the night and ask for me to sleep with him. Usually it's when he's sick or there's a loud storm, but sometimes he just needs a little love. I'm usually out of it, so I end up sleeping in his bed. He does sleep in a full bed so it's not completely miserable.
My kids have screen time before bed
For a lot of kids, screen time before bed can cause over-stimulation, night terrors and difficulty falling asleep due to delayed hormone release. But it works for our family. My 4 year old gets 10 minutes of iPad time on the couch after he gets dressed in his pajamas. If he had any issue falling asleep or started having night terrors, iPad use would be the first thing I would eliminate.
I've used melatonin
Ahhhh, melatonin is a hormone and it shouldn't be given to kids. That's what I'm supposed to tell you, right? Well, I have given it to my preschooler. The few times I've used it were usually when traveling and dealing with jet lag. Occasionally I've used it during sickness because I can't get my son to take liquid cough medicine. You do what you have to do. Let me be clear: I don't promote using melatonin all the time and I recommend you consult your physician before using it.
My kids sleep in the car
When I first started sleep training my kids, I was a stickler for schedules. It was important that my oldest took all of his naps in his crib. One, he slept really well in his crib and two, if he fell asleep in his car seat, he would not transfer well and he would not take a nap later. But now my toddler will fall asleep in the car and I can transfer him to his crib. It's glorious! And if he only gets a car seat nap on some days, that's just fine too.
I didn't think about healthy sleep habits until 4 months
With my first, I had no idea what healthy sleep habits were. But with my second, I knew that I should be putting my son in his crib awake, spacing out his feedings to discourage grazing and not feeding him to sleep. Did I follow these guidelines? Nope. I just survived, knowing that I would sleep train at 4 months.
I don't enforce quiet time
My 4 year old started fighting nap around 3 years old, but I was not ready for him to be done napping. So I forced a nap and he would usually take. However, I noticed that he had a much easier time falling asleep at night if he didn't take an afternoon nap. So I eliminated the nap and decided he would have quiet time instead. After about 3 days of failed quiet time, I gave up. Now he just hangs out all day and goes to bed at 7:15. Works for me and works for our family.
As you can see, I don't have it all together when it comes to sleep and schedules. You have to be flexible and understand that it won't always be perfect. If you and your child are well rested and happy, that's all that matters.