Thursday, 01 December 2011
The most trying time of the day for me is bedtime. It's the point of the day when the kids are tired and getting cranky. Or they are already cranky and I just want to chuck them into bed and hope they go to sleep. (I don't do this, of course but the frustration is there).
When my oldest, Rose, was a baby, she co-slept with me. My husband was up against the wall, I was in the middle, and she was on the outside. When she started rolling over, I moved her to a crib. The crib was still in our room until she was about 10 months. She continued to wake during the night and usually still does. She's three.
When we discovered we were expecting Clark, Rose was moved to a toddler bed in her own room. This was done in stages, we didn't just kick her out. Her crib was moved first and then we introduced her to a big girl bed. When she was still in the crib, I could give her a sippy of water and tuck her in and that was that. After she was moved to a toddler bed, bedtime became a monstrous battle to get her to stay in the bed. Then I'd end up either listening to her scream and cry because she didn't want to be in there or I'd have to sit by her bed scratching her back for an hour before she'd go to sleep. It was a nightmare. Eventually she got the idea and would drop off to sleep fairly quickly.
When Clark was born, she was still waking during the night but by then we'd just moved a preschool nap cot into our room so if she came in during the night, she could just sleep on her own little bed. We co-slept with Clark as well. But he transitioned to a crib much sooner and more easily than Rose did. He preferred to sleep by himself. And I could just feed him and he'd settle right down to sleep. At first he'd still wake for a bottle but now he just takes a sippy with water to bed and he's fine.
When we decided that Rose needed a twin sized bed, it was back to that old battle again. She was excited to have a big kid bed, but was terrified to go to sleep by herself. But we knew that we didn't want to go back to scratching her back for an hour and I couldn't do that with Clark still being a baby. Husband was on nights then and it was just me tackling bedtime by myself. So we bought her some glow-in-the-dark stars to put on her ceiling and told her that she could stay awake and count the stars. It worked. She would count the stars and fall right asleep. But she'd still wake in the night and come into our room. And Clark was still waking for a mid-night bottle. Four people in our king sized bed wasn't very comfortable. So we told Rose that if she could sleep in her own bed all night for seven days, she could have a "Big Girl" party because she'd be a big girl for sleeping by herself. So for seven days we tracked her progress with stickers on a chart and celebrated with a party. We had a cake shaped like a bed, left over noisemakers from birthdays, and just made a huge fuss. She loved it.
Now we've got a definite bedtime routine down. Bath, jammies, eat graham crackers while we read stories, brush teeth, and lights out. The routine works well for getting them into bed, though some nights it's like pulling teeth to keep them from dallying. And if they're cranky already, it's really difficult. But the routine helps to keep us on track.
Now the only problem is that Rose is STILL waking and coming into our bed most nights. She's three and likes to sleep sideways. Just last night, she ended up in our bed and every time I'd take her back to bed, she'd be right back in there an hour later. I want her to know that she's welcome to come for a cuddle if she has a bad dream, but I'm almost desperate to get her to stay in her own room. My children share a room, so any crying and fussing is going to wake Clark and my husband if she's loud enough. And no, spanking and threats are not an option.