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.
I know it’s easy to take a quick glance around this little blog and think that things around here are all rainbows and unicorns 24/7. But don’t let the random videos and heavily edited Instagram photos fool you. We are in the throws of the terrible twos. Big time. I have wanted to write about it for months now, but honestly, I’m just too exhausted all the time to even begin to about it. There is so much to write about, I don’t even know where to start.
I could tell you about how 2 weeks ago, Quinn went through a phase were she wanted nothing to do with me. Where one night, she actually said the words to me,
“No Mommy, I don’t love you. You are not my family. Buckeye and Daddy are my family.”
Buckeye is our cat, by the way. I’m glad the former stray animal that wants nothing to do with her and really contributes nothing to the family other than leaving us hairballs on the stairs every morning is higher up on the totem pole than I am.
I know that she didn’t mean, or even understand the words she was saying. But that didn’t stop me from locking myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes and crying my eyes out. Those are words you never want to hear from your kid. And honestly, I thought I had about 12 more years before they came out of her mouth. And after being stressed out at work and exhausted all day and then coming home to see your daughter that you miss SO much, only to have her run away from you and tell you to “Go AWAY Mommy!” every.single.day…it starts to wear on you.
Luckily, the phase ended after a very rough 2.5 weeks. It was hard, but she has come back. She still has her moments, which I can deal with, but her total hatred for anything mommy has passed…for now.
I could also tell you about the incessant whining. How every word that comes out of her mouth is a whine or a cry, or an “I WANT…” I could tell you how no matter what I ask her/tell her to do, not matter how I nicely I ask, or how firm I insist, it always results in one of three responses from her:
1. a firm, “NO!”
2. running away to the other side of the house or down the sidewalk
3. completely ignoring me
She is punished for not listening. But, an hour later, her little 2-year-old brain has forgotten about it.
I know that’s nothing unusual. That’s every 2 year old. And as annoying as it is, I know with patience and consistency, it will end eventually, right?
There are plenty of other things I could write about. But the main thing that has happened that has really gotten me freaked out lately is the bedtime BS, which started this past weekend. It’s getting bad and on the verge of terrifying.
Quinn has always been a pretty good sleeper. She likes taking 2 hour naps at home in her crib and has always (with the exception of a few random, week-long phases) never had a problem going to bed at night. We have our routine: bath, PJ’s, books, Rock-a-bye Baby Lullabies on the iPod (Beatles or Zeppelin), Ladybug nightlight shining stars on the ceiling and a small fan in the corner for white noise. After we read, we sit in the rocker and rock for a bit and sometimes she falls asleep in my arms or sometimes she doesn’t and I put her in the crib without incident. Sometimes, she’s tired and asks to go straight to her crib. She has never had a problem with her crib, never, ever.
Until this past weekend.
It’s slowly been building up for the past few days. But last night, I think just may have been one of the worst nights we have had as parents.
Simply put, she just does not want us to leave the room anymore. And she doesn’t care what she has to do to get us to stay there, to the point that it’s getting dangerous.
The night before last, I had to move the crib to the other side of her small room so that she wouldn’t open the bedroom door from her crib and scream at us. Last night, after our usual routine and rocking her for at least 20 minutes, I decided it was time to put her in her crib. Immediately she flipped out and started thrashing and screaming and lunging for me. When I shut the door, she climbed out of the crib, using the rocker to get down (she has never even attempted to climb out of the crib before last night). After I moved out the rocker and got her back in the crib I closed the door again and 10 seconds later she dove out of the crib and landed on the hardwood floor (she was ok). Jeremy came up and tried to get her to sleep, but a minute after he left the room, she simply climbed out quietly (no idea how she did it). We took out the mattress and tried to get her to sleep on the floor, but when I shut the door, she started shaking it and throwing things at the door (she’s freakishly strong, by the way). Then, she climbed on the changing table and started screaming.
We tried sitting with her, rocking her, patting her back, singing to her, reading to her. But after so long, you just have to say, “You know what kid, it’s time for bed.” Which of course would bring on immediate meltdown.
When I say meltdown, I don’t mean like crying and whining. I mean full-fledged panic-stricken, dropping my body in boiling lava, ripping apart my vocal chords screaming. It was so bad, I thought she was going to throw up. She would scream for me to come back, scream to come downstairs, then, she would stop and talk to herself (babbling about going to bed and wanting mommy or daddy) and then start screeching again. The whole time, I am standing outside her door completely heartbroken and wondering how Linda Blair got into my child.
Finally, after 3 hours and moving ALL the furniture out of her room except the mattress, I got her to fall asleep by lying with her on her tiny crib mattress on the floor and snuggling her. I love to snuggle her, sure, but I’m not excited about starting a habit of having to lay with her to get her to fall asleep, but whatever. Desperate times …
At 1:30am she woke up screaming again and Jeremy and I took turns going in and sitting with her. At one point, I laid next to her on her crib mattress for 40 minutes before sitting up and crying my eyes out. I just felt so helpless. She of course, was wide-awake and asked me why I was “laughing”.
Jeremy heard me and came in to relieve me, but I couldn’t fall asleep. After 30 minutes I walked into her room to see my 6’ tall husband wrapped in a blanket on the hardwood floor next to her mattress. She was still, wide-awake.
I told him if anyone was sleeping on the floor, it was Quinn. So we went to bed and I threw and blanket on the floor next to my bed. She followed us in and I told her if she wanted to be by us, that was fine, but she would have to sleep on the floor.
Mother-of-the-year, I know. Write nasty comments all you want. Now is not the time to begin co-sleeping. I have used a lot of attachment parenting methods over the past 2 years, but that’s the one where we draw the line. We are very adamant about not having her sleep in our bed. It works for others I know, but that’s just our thing.
She tried to climb in our bed a few times and I calmly told her she would have to stay on her blanket if she wanted to be by us. She did. I think by that time, she was just too exhausted to fight us.
Finally, at 3:30am she fell asleep. We all did. And then, my alarm went off at 5:30am. We all got roughly 5 hours or broken-up sleep. And we are all miserable today.
This is the 2nd night in a row of less than 6 hours of sleep because of her bedtime shenanigans. I thought she would be so tired last night she would fall asleep, but no. It’s like, the more tired she is, the more power she has. And man, she was POWERFUL last night.
So, that’s where we are at: exhausted, broken-down, sad and trying our best not to freak out on a scared and confused two-year-old at 3am that doesn’t know any better. It’s hard. I’m proud of us for somewhat keeping our cool, but it was really hard. Usually, we have been able to go with the flow when it comes to parenting. We don’t read a ton of books or go online for a lot of help. We tend to trust our instincts and go with our gut. This has worked until this point. But last night, as I sat in her room at 3:30am crying, I realized I had no idea what the fu%k I was doing.
And I can deal with the lack of sleep. I never get more than 6 hours a night anyway. But it’s the thought of her freaking out, being scared and even hurting herself that has me worried. I have honestly, never seen this side of her.
Last night before bed, I showed Quinn photos on the Ikea website of “big girl” beds and asked if she would like one. She seemed excited and even this morning, she remembered and said she wanted to sleep in her “big girl bed”. The soonest we can venture out to Ikea is Monday, so we’re hoping we can survive until then. I know it’s time for her to transition and I was probably holding on longer than I should have. I guess she’s letting us know. I’m just kind of sad that the last time I rocked her in her rocker and sat with her in her “nursery” had to be during such a traumatic moment. It would have been nice to get her more excited and transition her to her new room under better and calmer circumstances.
People have offered me different theories as to why she is doing it. Honestly, I think it’s a separation anxiety. She started a new room at school a few weeks ago and we thought she was doing fine, but now that I look back and see how all her other behaviors have panned out, I think it’s all related. Three of her best buddies at school are no longer in the same class too, so I know that’s hard. Quinn thrives on consistency, so I think this may be throwing her off more than she lets on.
Any advice on transitioning to a big girl room or just dealing with sleep issues in general are more than appreciated. We can’t be the only ones out there dealing with this insanity, right?