September 24, 2012

The Great Bedtime Battle

Since becoming a mom, I have learned a level of patience that I had no idea existed within myself. I'm not certain my husband has quite grasped on to the concept yet, so for now, it will have to be my "thing".

Some of my virtual mama friends out there have entered into the potty training phase and have expressed their frustrations. OH the frustrations. I often imagined that my son would still be in Pull Ups going into Kindergarten as I really saw no light at the end of that tunnel for a good long time. My strong-willed child put up a good fight. Just like everyone said it would happen, suddenly he would be potty trained and we woulnd not even realize when it happened. I look back and cannot pinpoint an exact day  or even month when it happened. I have not forgotten how frustrating it was. The accidents, the excuses. We tried everything from rewards charts to candy to toy bribery. We are still working on overnight accidents and he hasn't gotten the whole wiping thing down yet, but we aren't stressing over it either.

Just like everything with our son, he chose to do it in his own time. In his own way.

Like many parents, bedtime is definitely a battle. Our child has no off switch,  so getting him to shut off for the night is one of the most insanely frustrating experiences. It's THE main reason my husband and I take turns putting him to bed. If it were an easy process, I wouldn't need every other night off from this duty. Just like potty training, he is taking his own sweet time when it comes to going to bed on his own. We have established such a flawless routine that attempting to break it in any way is proving disastrous.

Out of the blue, he decided he was big enough to go brush his teeth, go potty and get his jammies on by himself. If we DARE try to interject, he gets ANGRY and tells us to leave. He wants to do it by himself! Also out of the blue for the first time, he got out of bed on Saturday morning, came into our bedroom and declared, "Mommy and Daddy, it's wake up time!" He proceeded to explain that the bunny is awake so we all need to be awake now too. Now, the bunny clock has to be just about the best invention ever:


We were having issues with Jack waking up in the middle of the night thinking it was time to wake up for the day. He didn't seem to understand that it was 2:30am. It was a battle. So, we bought him this sleep/wake training alarm clock from One Step Ahead so he would know when the bunny is sleeping, he should be sleeping too. Holy crap. It actually worked. Yes, he still wakes up with bad dreams and needs a hug or needs help getting to the potty, but he knows to go back to bed because the bunny is still sleeping. We noticed on our video monitor (yes... he is 4 and we still use it... don't judge me), that he will wake up before the bunny is up but sit in his bed and play with dream lite or his stuffed toys until the bunny is awake. This this is like magic and we love it.

However, this magical clock did not cure his bedtime battle struggles. He WILL NOT let us leave the room and we must painfully wait until he is fast asleep before we can slip out. We thought maybe with all of his newly discovered independence that he would suddenly decide he can go to bed by himself too. So, we asked him if he was willing to try and if he would do it, we would reward him with a shiny, new light saber. Both nights we attempted this, we failed. He is dependent on our nearness and obviously thinks we are abandoning him if we don't lay by his side. Cradling him in my lap while he shook in fear with giant alligator tears rolling down his eyes, I reassured him over and over that I wouldn't leave him. My patience nearing its breaking point as I longed for my "me" time, my stomach grumbling for my next scheduled Medifast snack, I took a deep breath and snuggled in next to my sad, little boy. He fell asleep quickly, holding my finger in a death clutch that said, "Please don't leave alone, Mommy." As I freed my hand and tiptoed out of his room, I blew him a kiss and promised myself that we would no longer try and push this issue with him.

As with everything we've "struggled" with along the way, he will learn to go to bed by himself in his own time. It may be a month, heck, it could be a couple more years. I do know for sure, it will be in his time. When he is ready. Truthfully? Despite the sometimes frustrating push back he gives us (i.e. I need to go potty again, I'm thirsty, my tummy hurts... etc etc etc), I have learned to love this quiet time. Most of the time we snuggle and read books on my Nook and then just talk. I've learned more about his day in the 10 minutes before he falls asleep than dinner and playtime combined.

I selfishly treasure my time with him, so why be in such a hurry to get him to grow up!?

I was not compensated in any way for promoting the sleep training clock. It is just that kick ass that I had to share it with all of you. 


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