If you were to ask me about my Maddy's strengths, one thing I would definitely say is that she is flexible. Personality-wise, anyway. She very much takes things "in stride." Getting her off a bottle at a year and a binky at 18 months? No problem. Transitioning from crib to toddler bed not much later? Smooth. She can stay awake (and happy) while we're out late at a party. She can be patient about eating. I can probably count on one hand the times she's shown stranger anxiety. She can entertain herself. She doesn't rely on a schedule (which is nice, because I'm really not a schedule person).
However, similar to those drugs that will cure your insomnia or acid reflux if you're willing to put up with a headache, nausea, chills, dizziness, fatigue, and possible death, Maddy's flexibility often comes with the side effect of inconsistency, most notably in the sleep department.
Inconsistency with when and how she falls asleep has led to inconsistency in her actual sleeping - meaning frequent up-in-the-middle-of-the-night nights with Maddy.
Some nights are worse than others. Sometimes I can console her by just sitting in her room with her for a few minutes. Other times, I have to lay down with her and I end up falling asleep there myself (and consequently waking up with a stiff neck). And in the worse cases, she ends up in Mommy and Daddy's bed. (I know. I KNOW.) And thankfully, it's not something we have to deal with every night, but it's often enough to be a problem.
Now, I've done research on this topic. I know we're supposed to have a bedtime routine (and we do). I know I'm not ever ever supposed to sit or lay on her bed to help her fall asleep (trying to abide by this has led to a lot of time spent on the floor in her room, which makes the stiff neck situation worse). I know if she gets up in the middle of the night, I'm supposed to just put her back in bed matter-of-factly, without really saying anything about it to her, and leave the room.
Now, I have nothing against letting her "cry it out" (a technique I fully support after a certain age), but well, I have something against her "crying it out" waking up her little sister, who is a super consistent sleeper but does not handle being woken up very well at all. I also have something against coherent thinking between the hours of 1 and 5 AM, which is when most of these instances occur. When she wakes me up, I'm not thinking about strategy or good parenting or what-the-heck-ever, I'm just thinking about getting back to sleep.
So basically, what I have to say is... HELP. Any advice? Tips? Tricks? Offers to let Maddy sleep at your house for the rest of her toddler years? Any and all of the above would be appreciated.