I love to sleep. There’s no question about that. The only thing I’m dreading about having a newborn in the house again is the lack of sleep I’ll be getting.
One thing I was so blessed with Emmalyn was that she was sleeping through the night at four months old. [Please don’t throw things at me!] I had it ingrained in my head that I needed to “sleep train” my baby to make our lives easier. Honestly, our personal version of “sleep training” Emmy really worked. For us, at least. I would put Emmy down to sleep while she was still awake, and to this day I still believe that was one of the best things we could have done. She’s always been such a good sleeper–walking to her crib/toddler bed and going to sleep on her own.
That is, until now. Or rather, a few months ago.
When we moved this past July, we had a couple of smooth weeks of sleep, where Emmy would crawl into her bed on her own after we read, sang, and said prayers. Then once new things started popping up in her life–like school & dance class, she started putting up a fight over going to bed.
& by “fight” I mean, kicking & screaming & hitting…
It was miserable.
For e v e r y o n e.
We tried a couple of different sleep training “styles” (if you will).
The first we tried was to lay (or is it lie??) in bed with her for several nights…
…then sit on her bed for a few nights…
…then sit on a chair in the middle of her room for the next several nights…
…then on a chair outside her door.
The point was to eventually not be in her room at all. We didn’t want to get in the habit of lying in bed with her because either the hubs or I would fall asleep, then wake up who-knows-when and miss half (if not all) of our evening together. Not to mention I always felt so groggy after falling asleep in her bed.
This really seemed like it would work, but alas, she just kept getting out of her bed. Some nights she would put up a fight, and others she would simply be a little Miss Chatty Cathy.
I swore I could get the whole “Super Nanny” technique to work for us. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s where you put the child to bed and say, “goodnight and I love you,” then, if & when the child gets out of bed, you don’t say a word, but put him/her back into bed. You may have to do this 20-200 times a night, but with each day it’s suppose to be less and less, until at last they don’t get out of bed at all. I’m telling you I tried this–and I was s o o o o patient and consistent (for well over a month!), but it just didn’t work for us. There are days when I’m still in denial over it not working for us. I was seriously such a firm believer that this was the way to go to get Emmalyn to sleep.
By the time Emmalyn would finally wear herself out and hit the hay, it would be after 10pm!! We would be at this whole bedtime
torture thing for over two hours! Not okay.
When you know something isn’t working for your family, you have to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.
So what did we end up doing?
Well, through a lot of prayer & reading, I felt in my heart that it was okay to scratch the whole “sleep training” theory and just.be.mommy.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that Emmalyn is only three–although she talks like she’s seven, and often acts that old, too. Sometimes I just need to cut her a break and treat her like she’s three years-old.
Therefore, our current bedtime routine, starting around 6:30-7pm, is:
1. Bath, brush teeth, pajamas
2. Sit on rocking chair in family room with a dim light & “Relaxation” Pandora
3. Review our letter flash cards
4. Read three books
5. Turn out the lights, but keep the music on
6. Say our prayers
7. Sing lullabies
8. Rock her until she falls asleep
Typically, she will fall asleep within thirty minutes or less (around 8-8:30pm). On a “bad” night, which is pretty rare these days, it can take her closer to an hour. I make it clear to her from the beginning that she either has to rock with mommy or lie in bed (by herself). Of course there are days when she wants to get down and go back and forth between her bed and the rocking chair, but those days are getting fewer and farther between. No matter what though, I stay consistent and don’t let her walk all over me by changing the “rules” on me. This sometimes means being patient while she throws a few tears around until she gets the picture that mommy means business.
One great piece of advice I got from a family member is to make sure Emmalyn is waking up at the same time every morning. On the two days she goes to school I wake her up around 6:45am, but if I were to let her sleep in on all the other days, she would stay in bed until 8:00am. [again, don’t throw things at me!] I’ll admit, I got spoiled with her sleeping in because it meant this momma could sleep in, too; and it’s been such a luxury to me while being pregnant. However, this inconsistent wake-up made for a really mixed-up bed time because one day she was tired enough to fall asleep at 8:00, but then the next she was nowhere near tired until closer to 10pm! Since waking her up at 6:45 every day (although not every Sunday), our bedtime routine has been so much smoother and more predictible–just how I like it! I also make sure to wake her up from her nap no later than 3:30pm, whether she falls asleep at 1:30 or 2:30. If she sleeps past 3:30, her bedtime is pushed back… causing wifey-hubby-time to be pushed back… no bueno…
At first I battled with if this was the “right” way to go about getting her to sleep, since it seemed like we were heading in the opposite direction, but then I realized that this is what works for us
. For our family.
I’m tired of reading the judgmental posts I see on Pinterest and mommy blogs that say: “This is what you MUST do to get your child to sleep!”
What works for some may not work for another. I think about how my daughter will never be this little again; & one day she’s not going to want to cuddle with me anymore. [tear]
Even if I’ve had a super stressful and frustrating day, rocking my little girl brings me back to reality and puts me in a happy place. I hold her in peaceful silence, thanking God for my beautiful angel. And that’s all right.
So what’s your bedtime routine like for your little one(s)? Have you ever had to change your “original” plan and try something new? How did it work out?