I’m proud of myself today. Both kids are in bed, asleep, and it’s not even 9 pm yet. I started a couple of weeks ago with a bedtime routine for DD. We have never manipulated sleep, always letting her show us the way. Once when she was about 1 year old I noticed she was staying up past the point when I could see she was tired, so I began taking her to bed around 9 pm (she has always been a night owl) and laying with her until she fell asleep. The first few times it took almost an hour. She’d nurse, then sit up and want to play. But eventually it took less and less time. Then after a while she went to a phase where she was going to sleep earlier.
Well, this past few months her bedtimes got later and later, until she was routinely up past 10 pm. I needed a break. I was tired and needed some down time in the evenings. But of course, I have never expected my children – who are far less mature and emotionally capable than I am – to put their needs behind my own, so this had to be done gently. I started with a “routine” (another thing we’ve never needed). Pajamas, brush and floss teeth, two stories, then milkies and snuggles until she’s asleep. Yes, my 3 year old nurses for a couple minutes each night. Deal with it . It sounds simple, but actually takes some time to put into action, because she generally dawdles, as all 3 year olds do, and brushing and flossing usually take alot of creativity to get accomplished, since it’s not something she enjoys. Right now, letting her brush and floss MY teeth while I do hers is working very well. The stories she loves, has never once complained about it being “only two”, has happily gone off to bed with me, and has not once tried to leave the bed. The first few nights it took almost an hour for her to fall asleep, but lately she’s been crashing pretty darned fast. She’s been waking earlier, so that’s part of it. And she’s also pretty active.
So, I’m happy because I get to blog now, and watch The Apprentice with DH without any kids interrupting. And I’m happy because I got DD to go to bed earlier, without a single complaint or power struggle or any semblance of a battle. Meanwhile, our “sleep training” friends are still dealing with nightly battles with their 3.5 year old. Mind you, they also seem to have pretty (IMO) high expectations for a young child. I can’t imagine what toddler or preschooler doesn’t want to snuggle to sleep with a mama or a daddy. And I can’t really understand why that’s so hard for some people to do. Gosh, it won’t be long before they don’t want you there and won’t that be a sad day.