Bad Mama Confession: Until recently, there hasn’t been a night in recent memory where Ellie has fallen asleep on her own. And by that, I mean one of us always had to cuddle with her until she fell asleep. It’s something we started when she was a baby and just never stopped. Yeah, I know–not a great habit, but until Gwen was born it wasn’t an issue. The way I saw it, 20-30 minutes of snuggle time in the evening was a fair trade for a full night’s sleep in my own bed.
But since Gwen arrived, our nighttime routine has become… hectic. Newborns don’t care about their older sister’s routines–when they want to be fed, they want to be fed, routine be damned. For the last three weeks we’ve made do, but it became obvious our old habits weren’t serving us well. Ellie was staying up until well past her bedtime, then it would take forever for her to fall asleep (meaning one of us was stuck in bed until she passed out)… and then she stopped sleeping through the night.
As someone who’s been spoiled by a good sleeper, this was NOT COOL. Being awake with a newborn is a given–it’s not always pleasant, but I expect it. Being awake with a pre-schooler who’s become accustomed to snuggling with you to get to sleep, on the other hand, is infuriating–especially when sleep is already a precious commodity.
So after a particularly rough night, I made one of those Difficult Parenting Decisions–we needed to change the bedtime routine. The kiddo needed to learn to fall asleep in her own bed, sans over-tired parents. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but it was necessary.
I decided to put my plan into effect on Friday night when Tim was out at a movie–that way I wouldn’t be tempted to hand Gwen to Tim in the thick of a tantrum and go back to our old ways. Leading up to bedtime, I made a point of telling Ellie several times, “You’re going to sleep in your own bed tonight, by yourself!” I tried to make it sound EXCITING and FUN! YAY, SLEEPING ALONE! Mama loves it, why don’t you?
She wasn’t buying it, but when bedtime came, she crawled into her bed and pulled her blankie up to her chin in between sniffles. I thought to myself, “This might not be so bad after all!”
Here’s how the evening went down: