bedtime bs - an update

A lot of people have asked how Quinn’s bedtime routine has been going since my last frantic bedtime post a couple of months ago. I haven’t written about it since because I just have had no clue what to write - it’s different every night.

But last night…oh last night was a glorious night. And I think for the first time in a long time, I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Last night was the first night in months that Quinn went straight to bed (in her own bed), did not get up once while trying to fall asleep, fell asleep within 10 minutes and most importantly, stayed in bed the entire night. I actually had to go into her room and wake her up this morning. I can’t remember the last time I have done that.

It’s been a struggle back and forth ever since that first night she freaked out in her crib. Every time we take 2 steps forward, we take 1 step back. Every time I think we may be getting somewhere, something new comes up and it all seems to fall apart. Quinn is a pretty adaptable kid and she has never gone through a transition that took her this long to get a hold of. I’m sure some of this is just as much our fault as is it hers.

After my last post, Jeremy and I decided for safety’s sake, we needed to get her a “big girl bed” right away. I took the side off of her crib for a few days so at least she couldn’t throw herself out onto the hardwood floor (like she did that first night), but I knew the key to getting her readjusted to bedtime was to just get rid of the crib all together and get her excited about a whole new arrangement.

We got her all hyped up about the wonderful Kura bed from Ikea. I was so excited to create a fun, private fort for her to call her own –a place where we could hide together and read books at night before hunkering down and snuggling to sleep. And then eventually, a place where she could sleep on the top bunk and have extra room in her small bedroom to play underneath.

Unfortunately, when we brought this bed home and started to unpack it in her room, we realized it would take up an entire HALF of her teeny tiny bedroom. (Did I mention how small her room is?) The bed is only a twin, and I REALLY wanted her to have it, but I wasn’t willing to give up almost her entire room for it. So, we packed the bed back up (all 400 pieces), lugged it back down the stairs and into the car (all 400lbs of it) and I sent Jeremy off on his own, all the way back to Ikea, on a mission to find a toddler bed. (Don’t ask me what we are going to do when she grows out of a toddler bed, I have no idea…)

He came back with this Kritter bed, which is simple, inexpensive, cute, easy to put together and fits perfectly in her small space. We also let her pick out her own bedding and even let her get a new doll for bedtime.

We set up the bed together (with her in the room) and when it was all done, she seemed pretty psyched. She played in it, read stories to her dolls in it, and just wanted to hang out in it.

That was, until bedtime.

So, this started our next phase of bedtime BS. It involved me sitting in her room with her, next to her bed on the hard, cold, hardwood floor, patting her back-sometimes for 1-2 hours a night, until she would fall asleep. I was desperate, because if nothing else, I at least wanted to get her used to falling asleep in her bed, even if she only slept in it for 10 minutes.

Eventually, she would fall asleep. And I would sneak out of her room to start my evening at 10pm. Ugh.

And eventually, she would wander into our bedroom sometimes at 11pm, sometimes at 4am, and cry. Until we pointed to a blanket on the floor and she would lay down and fall back asleep.

Hey, at least we weren’t up fighting with her all night, right?

My good friend Jackie went through a similar phase with her son Jack. Every morning, I would groggily type the tales of our bedtime struggles to her over email. And every morning, she would politely reply that she wasn’t going to tell me NOT to sit in the room with her, because she did it too with Jack … for over a year. Then, she would politely remind me how they had to start all over again to break that habit that they had stupidly created themselves.

Of course, by her telling me she “wasn’t” going to tell me what to do, she was doing the exact opposite. Just like a good friend should, they tell you what you want to hear, but in a way that lets you know that they don’t mean a word of it. What she really meant was, “DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES WE DID! GET OUT OF THAT ROOM RIGHT NOW!”

Another friend sent me a copy of her old version of “The No Cry Sleep Solution”. I didn’t read the whole thing, but did skim over a few parts that stuck out. One part talked about how out you may have to sit with them for a bit, and eventually, slowly, work your way towards the door and out of the room. This process could take weeks or months.

Weeks or months. Who has that kind of time and patience?

But, here I am, weeks and months later. And that’s exactly what has happened.

After about a week, I stopped with the patting on the back and just sat there. Eventually, I would bring my computer into the room, so at least I could get some work done, but sometimes the light would keep her awake. And I had to be right next to her bed, or she would immediately start panicking. But by doing this, she would eventually fall asleep in about 30 minutes to an hour. And she would always end up in our bedroom in the middle of the night, sleeping on our floor.

After about 3 weeks of floor-sitting, I decided enough was enough and I put her to bed and sat in the hallway (that will show her). This resulted in her getting out of bed (a lot) before she would finally get tired enough to fall asleep. I’m talking like 5-15times of me walking her back to her room, tucking her back in, telling her what a “good job” she was doing, kissing her head and eventually towards the end, yelling at her to stay in bed. I hated that the last thing she heard before falling asleep was me yelling at her, but honestly, that’s when it would finally work.

By the way, let me just interject here and say that we tried putting her to bed earlier. We tried putting her to bed later. That never mattered. Quinn just naturally falls asleep now around 9pm. If we try earlier, it just results in a longer bedtime fight. We also have the same exact bedtime routine every night (bath and stories in bed). That never changes.

After about 2 weeks in the hall, I decided to move to my bedroom and at least sit on the bed right after putting her to sleep, so much more comfortable for me. This is what I have been doing now for the last 2 weeks and it seems to be working well. She still gets up, but it seems like she does it less often than she did before. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she is finally starting to get used to her bed. She loves being covered up with her new duvet and sheet and tucked in. (Blankets are new to her since she never wanted them before.) I also think since she can’t sense I am “right there” anymore, she’s less likely to get up. Although, she still wants me upstairs while she falls asleep.

The other thing that has helped a little has been stickers. Oh, the wonder of stickers. Who knew?

We tried a sticker sheet for other things (tooth brushing and early potty training) and it’s helped a little. But it hasn’t helped much with bed.

And by sticker sheet, I mean I literally just slapped a sheet of paper on her wall and she puts her stickers on it. Funny, I’m a graphic designer in real life, but have no patience for stuff like that at home.

Good God, I’m crafty.

Anyway, we use mostly Dora stickers, but last week my mom bought her these sparkly Disney princess stickers that are “special” and she seems to be mesmerized by them. The past few nights, as we snuggled in her bed after story time, I explained to her that is she stays in her bed without getting up and stays in bed ALL night, that she will get TWO stickers in the morning – a Dora AND a princess sticker.

She seemed pretty excited about this. Also, I think the past week or two, she is just communicating a little better. She is able to understand more, to listen to questions and follow through with answers and actions, etc. I think this is key. She agreed that she would try and she did.

Two nights ago, she only got up once, but fell asleep soon afterwards. She came into our room at 2, so in the morning, she got one sticker. She seemed disappointed, but understood the agreement.

Then, last night, she went right to sleep and stayed there all night. When I woke her up this morning (to a lot of praise about how proud I was of her being such a big girl) her first response was, “I get two stickers this morning.”

Yes, sweet girl. Yes, you do. You can have 600 stickers if you want.

So, that’s where we are at right now. It’s been a long process, one that has required an insane amount of patience. I know it’s not over. I know that tonight, she will more than likely show up crying in our room at 3am or not fall asleep for an hour. But, I really feel like we have gotten over some sort of hump and are figuring things out. Good thing too, because as with most parenting issues, I have no clue as to what I’m doing.