Thursday, October 2

One man's trash

I was getting to the point where I got a pit in my stomach after dinner, just thinking of the next "step." Our night-time routine with Mia. We'd start out fine. Put night-time diapers on the babies and stick them in their cribs,(nice routine for those two, ya think?) Then it was Mia's turn.

You know- it only got hard to put her to bed when we introduced a "bedtime routine?" Yeah. Before that- we put her in bed and she went to sleep. We took her binki away when she turned two, and she still did fine. But we thought- "Gee we've taken her away from her home, her grandparents, cousins, and her binki, not to mention divided our attention to her in three ways, all in a few months. Maybe we should give her something for a change." So we bought into the "kids should have a nightly regimen" crap and started singing songs and reading books and praying right before bed. Things went downhill from there. Bedtime became playtime. Not just any playtime. Exclusive really-nice-mommy playtime. Of course she was going to start balking at going to bed! Don't get me wrong. I think all the singing, reading stuff is important, and can be beneficial for some children before bedtime. But she didn't need it to sleep. "If it aint broke..." Duh.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, Mia's betime went something like this:

Kiss daddy goodnight, brush teeth, potty, pull-ups, P.J.'s, three books, three songs, "Goodnight to Mia," (she started saying goodnight to herself in the mirror at some point. "Good night Mia! I love you!" and then hug and blow herself a kiss.) Then prayers, kiss mommy, get tucked in, pull off the covers, "BIG hug," tucked in again.

At this point there was always a new variation. Potty again, need a drink, need socks on my hands (she started picking her lip when we went to Utah for Christmas last year- our solution,) afraid of the shadows, I have to tell you something, I'm hungry.

The ultimate ending to this chaos each night also came in varied forms. Have a gratitude moment, where we tell each other what things we were grateful the other did that day, get a drink, go potty again, sing another song, say another prayer, add a stuffed animal, arrange the furniture. Usually she'd keep whining and whining until the last resort- threatening to take her favorite toy away. Some nights involved doing just that.

It got worse and worse. She started getting out of bed hours after we thought she was down for the count. We realized we had to turn the actual lamp off, and not just use the light switch. We found out we had to block her direct view of the nightlight. The worst- she started getting up at 5:45- 6:00am and yelling for us. And if she didn't, one of the babies did.

Though she'd never asked, and despite all the warnings we'd read not to "go there," we decided to let her start falling asleep in our bed while Zach studied, with the understanding she'd wake up in her own room. For those of you who don't know, Zach is doing the at-home study option for the first two years of med school. His computer desk and homework station are right next to our bed- the only place for him to get peace and quiet during the days. The first night, she fell asleep within ten minutes, no fussing. It was like the first quiet minute after one of the heinous thunderstorms out here in Ohio. The deafening silence feels so good, but you don't quite believe it's over.

We've had to play around with it. She's had trouble getting to sleep a few nights. But she is actually trying to get to sleep! The other night she decided she'd rather sleep in her own bed. Today is the third day she's put herself down for a nap. And last, but not least, somehow, all of this has affected the babies. The same time we stopped the late night crying with Mia, the babies stopped the early morning rising. We've slept until at least 7 almost every morning for two weeks.

Things are better at our house. Even though I've been grateful for it a couple of times, I'm almost to the point where I think no advice is good advice when it comes to child care. We're so worried about how everyone else does it, (and doesn't do it) we let our personal solutions slip through the cracks undiscovered. We have more faith in people who aren't the parents of our children, who aren't living our lives, and who aren't dealing with our very unique situations. I love hearing successes and botch-ups of other parents. But I'm going to keep in mind that's all they are. Their successes and botch-ups.


Mommy2lilgems said...

what a beautiful photo!

Breezi said...

great picture of Mia. My favorite pose of my children: sleeping!

Maggie sleeps in our bed for naptime. She won't stay in her bed anymore for daytime naps. (punk!)

My solution for bedtime: Chip does it.

It's a worry free situation for me :o)

Cherry Tree said...

I am a big fan of bed sharing. My kids go to bed fairly well and if they need to come into my room they do. H and E easily switched to sleeping in their own rooms. J did but I brought him back because I needed someone to cuddle with. But he is moving back to his own bed now too. Listen to your impressions not books; they don't know your child!

Sahara said...

mmm I'm totally impressed. My sister has three little munchkins. And watching the ups and downs they have I definitely agree. You are going to know best. period.

RhondaLue said...

Yep, I say do what works for you. If what Dr so and so says, or your mother or your best friend says ain't workin' at your house then it's time to SHUT IT DOWN and try somethin' else.

That photo...makes me not believe you that she's ever been difficult! Angel-faced cherub.

La said...

As Sarah says, you don't need to teach a seed to grow

The Garber Family said...

Amen. Every child is different, every parent is different, as is every interaction between the two. The only consolation I get some days is remembering the very distinct answer to prayer I got one day that my kids are mine for a reason... our struggles, our triumphs, what I can teach them, what I can learn ... all of it is on purpose and you have to listen to that intuition that guides you for your very SPECIFIC situation. If only I could explain this to moms and pediatricians who balk at my attempts to get Hannah to eat.

Erika said...

Thanks! It's always good to remember not to need to parent like everybody else! Just what I needed to hear tonight.

Tulsi said...

I've listened nicely, but I've never followed other's advice. I've found that they give what they wish would happen. Not what has actually happened for them. Only you know your kids and He gave them to you. Not someone else for a reason. The photo is so cute.

The Waits Gate said...

Congrats and not to jinx you, but victory!!! Ahh, it must feel good to have that super early baby alarm turned off and the bedtime tug-o-war semi-won! Way to go, and as for the other advice givers(such as myself when I come) just smile and nod, just smile and nod, then laugh after they leave!

Shauna said...

What a precious picture! Thanks for sharing :)

Tulsi said...

Totally off subject, is your hair that long, and who took the pic of you for your blog?

Magirk said...


Having said that, my 5yo Princess needs - I mean NEEDS - a bedtime routine. We've done it that way ever since she was 18 months - bathtime, small snack, brush teeth, stories with Daddy, songs with Mommy and Daddy, prayer, hugs, lotion on arms, off to bed.

Now, though, now that Sweet Pea is old enough to stand up in her crib and throw her stuffed animals across the room at Princess and tease her a get a rise out of her - and now that she is toilet trained and weaned from nighttime diapers,.... We've started tacking on the 'extras' - I need to go one last time, Sweet Pea is throwing her toys at me, Sweet Pea won't be quiet... It never ends.

But if we skip even ONE item from the bedtime routine, she won't rest until we get it back into the routine and do it right. I like the bedtime routine, and it works for us.

But I totally agree with you about how advice from other parents is terribly overrated. It is. And most times, I can easily tell other parents to stuff their 'good advice.' Just kidding. But I do go home afterward and promptly 'forget' their kind advice.

I'm the parent. I know what works, and that's what I'm going to do.


Summer said...

Hiya Tulsi! My hair is now six inches shorter, cut by my hubby. And my hubby took the photo, too. See the family pics in the slideshow? We took these all the same day back in January- strung up a big tan blanket by the sliding door/windows, had a friend shoot us, and then after we changed, we started goofing off and taking shots of ourselves. The one of my hubby upsidedown holding Mia in the air was one of them, too.