Sometimes the answers are so simple that you kick yourself for not thinking of them sooner. This is usually my MO since I am a HUGE procrastinator. I am an expert at avoiding problems that I don’t want to deal with. However, when I do finally get around to dealing with a problem that I have been dreading for a long time it usually takes less time than I anticipated and is easier than I anticipated. In turn I kick myself for not having dealt with it sooner. Then there are the usual promises that the next time I am faced with a problem or task I will deal with it head on and save myself all the angst. Of course, we all know this will not happen. I am doomed to repeat my cycle of procrastination again and again. I am used to it and I frequently break promises to myself.
In this case the problem I had been dreading was getting my youngest to go to sleep at night and to stay in her bed all night. I have three kids this is not my first time around I know how to get a kid to go to sleep. Unfortunately, knowing and doing are two completely separate skill sets. The end result is my husband and I have not had a good night’s sleep in a very long time.
With my oldest daughter my husband and I made about every rookie parenting sleep mistake. We let her sleep in the bed, rocked her to sleep, and let her cry it out for 30 minutes and still went and picked her up. That last one is great because basically we taught her to cry for 30 minutes because we would still come to get her. It was a disaster in the beginning, but we did get our act together and rectified it pretty quickly. Once she turned a year old we started baby boot camp. We set up a pretty simple routine, two short books and then bed. The hard part was letting her cry it out. And cry it out she did. It was torturous to listen to her cry. If I recall correctly we slept with pillows over our heads. Thankfully it was short lived and to our surprise within a week she went to bed on her own, slept through the night and we never looked back.
The comes baby number 2. We knew what to do and we were going to do it right this time. Grace was put to sleep in her crib without even a story. She was the greatest sleeper. So much so it actually made me wonder if something was wrong, typical mom! To this day she has never slept in our bed and goes to sleep without any trouble. Even if she is sick or has a horrible nightmare she prefers her own bed by herself. A true success story.
Now come baby number 3! I guess we were just too cocky from Grace. We did it all wrong again. Amelia had no routine and no bedtime stories. So often we were out and about with the other two kids at night, she didn’t even really have a bedtime. Basically this baby was born running. That is just the way it is with the third. You are so busy with your other children that the baby has to be flexible and go with the flow.
Lack of a bedtime and routine has resulted in a disastrous sleeping situation at our house. Next month she will be 5 and I don’t think she has ever made it a whole week in her own bed. At night she resists going to bed. Her standard lines are “I am not tired” “Bed is so boring” and “I’am hungry.” When we do finally get her off to bed she is up and down for what feels like hours. She will call to us and tell us how bored she is or that she has something important to tell us. We no longer fall for that one. We have learned nothing is that urgent at 5.
When she does finally go to sleep, my husband and I retire to our FULL SIZE BED. My husband and I barely fit in this bed. Every night for as long as I can remember she has joined us in bed and has made sleep miserable for both of us.
I finally decided to tackle this problem head on. Five years to sit on a problem seemed like long enough. I created a sticker chart for her on Word that took all of about three minutes. She has two goals on the chart:
1.) Go to sleep on your own in your own bed
2.) Stay in your own bed all night
Shockingly it works. A sticker and a chart it is like a miracle cure. She has earned both stickers every night this week. In the morning she is so excited to get her two new stickers. I can’t believe it, the chart is actually working! I am holding my breathe concerned about the day she stops caring about stickers. But rather than focus on the negative I will bask in the glow of my genius and the glory of a good night’s sleep. Here’s to hoping it works forever!
My husband however would like me to add a third section:
3.) Go to sleep before 11
I told him we can only tackle one problem at a time!
Maybe when she is 10!