In the past month, something miraculous has happened at my house. I’ve been scared to celebrate too much in case it was just a fluke but I think it is now safe to say that this miraculous event will continue to happen every night.
A little background: My daughter has always been a decent sleeper, so I really can’t complain much. She started sleeping through the night at about 6 weeks old and has continued to do so fairly consistently.
We did have a short phase not long after her first birthday where she would not sleep in her crib and we ended up putting her in bed with us. She would typically start out in her crib but wake up in the middle of the night and be inconsolable until we brought her to bed with us. It lasted a few months. Neither hubby or myself were particularly thrilled with the arrangement but were pretty sure it was a temporary phase. The extra cuddles weren’t all bad, after all, but being shoved to the very edge of the bed by little toddler feet was not great.
Our biggest issues have always been getting her to bed at a decent time and being able to put her to bed awake/groggy and let her fall asleep on her how (without crying).
I’ve tried establishing a good bedtime routine that includes a bath, reading books and rocking in her room but if she wasn’t tired enough, she would just walk away from me and go play with toys and if I forced her to sit with me and rock, tantrums would ensue. So, we typically let her play until she was tired and then snuggle with her on the couch when she was ready until she fell asleep in our arms. I did attempt many times to put her to bed before she fell asleep completely but it only worked sporadically. Typically, she would wake up fully as soon as I laid her down and cry. Then I was stuck rocking her in her dark room until she fell asleep and that typically took an additional 30 minutes to an hour. We were lucky if this whole bedtime routine was finished before 9:30pm–sometimes later.
So, that’s where we were a few weeks ago, snuggling on the couch from about 7:30pm until she was fully asleep in my arms around 9:30pm. When she starts getting tired, she pretty much demands the cuddling or being carried. I didn’t try to fight it–I just did it. I can’t focus on anything else if she’s crying at my feet anyway, she can be quite demanding for such a cute little girl.
This left very little time in the evenings to do much of anything else after supper. I’d come to accept my fate in the world of late bedtimes. At least she’d sleep in until 7am–I had that going for me.
But then–one fateful night just a few weeks ago–we had been on the couch cuddling for a little while, as per usual. She was clearly sleepy. It was about 8:30pm. I was just kind of talking randomly to her and I said, “Are you ready to go night night in your bed?”. She sat right up like she thought it was the greatest suggestion she’d ever heard. I was flabbergasted. I told her to give Daddy a kiss and hug goodnight and she happily jumped into his lap to do so. Then, she reached out her arms to me and I carried her to her bed, kissed her goodnight and laid her down. We didn’t hear a peep from her until 7am. I was in shock. It was glorious.
She has continued to follow this bedtime routine every single night since then. She’ll even go to bed a little before 8:30pm some nights (though it typically leads to an earlier wake up time).
I cannot express just how life changing this new bedtime routine has been. It’s just so amazing. The extra hour or so in the evenings feels like a huge gift. So far, I’ve used that hour to be productive and do some cleaning around the house or I’ve just relaxed and caught up on the DVR or a movie with hubby. I’ve even–get this–been able to read a book on some evenings. I haven’t had time to read since my daughter was born 20 months ago and I missed it so so much. Or, best of all, just have some alone time with my hubby to catch up and relax without having to focus on anything but each other. It’s definitely something we were in need of.
I’ve won the bedtime lottery!