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.