Ever been told that one the ‘joys’ of parenting is losing sleep?
Recently our two and an half year old daughter stopped sleeping through the night and for ease and convenience we put her into our bed to get some rest. This was followed by refusing to go to bed until she had fallen asleep in our arms or where ever she dropped totally exhausted. You can probably guess the ending of this story- she has been doing this now for a few months and we are now sleepless in…Launceston!
While we agreed this was interrupting our own sleep and affecting our output in the following days we went along with new pattern without too much resistance. It was exhausting.
Last week we decided enough was enough. It was time to reclaim our evenings, sleep and our bed! So we sat down and agreed that we need to re-establish a new pattern of sleep. The problem was two fold- she was not self-settling into sleep and then on waking during the night we dutifully collected her and put her into bed with us making it rather crowded.
We talked to some other parents, asking about their experiences and hints on reclaiming the nights. From this we formulated a plan. A consistent bedtime routine of tea, bath, book and bed has worked for our four year old for some time, so it was time for our two year old to join in. We agreed on a start night- of course consulting the calendar for any interruptions over the coming week.
Then began the talk to our daughter that ‘big girls sleep in their own beds’. To reinforce the point we found a pair of ‘big girl’ pyjamas- ditching the cute baby onesie. All was set. Early tea. Warm bath. Cosy book reading as a family. Then the moment came- dad picked her up, she waved goodbye, then the smile wavered, the frown came followed quickly with tears and outstretched arms, ‘Mama’, came the cry. My heart broke.
But the decision had been made, so we kept the mantra, ‘sleep time now, goodnight’. Closing the door and walking away the cries became louder. The three doors between the bedroom and lounge room were closed. Then the pitter patter of feet on the hallway, followed by a cheeky, yet tearful smile and the words ‘mama’. Now came the hard part- picking her up again and going through the process again. I’ll be honest- it was hard, horrible really- but finally she settled and there was quiet. We crept in to check all was well and found her snuggled in with her ‘bunny’.
This process was repeated in the middle of the night. I had read somewhere that it can be easier to get up, get a drink, watch a movie or read a book until they settle. You wouldn’t believe what is on TV at 2.30am! I sometimes put the mugs out before going to bed… never hurts to be prepared. We’re up to the fourth night now and she is getting into a routine. She knows the ‘bedtime’ signals and while the tears still come, she now stays in bed.
Best of all… we have our evenings to ourselves and are alone in bed all night!
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