Worst Bedtime Ever: Four Things I Learned
Last night was the absolute worst bedtime ever. It all started when I decided it would be a great idea for the girls to share a room. And didn't take action on the idea until 5:30pm at dinner.
I should have known we were in for it then.
After dinner I whisked the girls off to bath while my husband disassembled the baby's crib and moved it to Big Sister's room. It all went downhill pretty quick.
Normal bedtime went out the window and we laid the girls down giving kisses and prayers. Everything was okay for five minutes.
Then baby started to cry. Then scream. Poor Big Sister had her hands over her ears when I came in to soothe Baby Sister.
Forty minutes later my husband had I had tried everything to get the girls to sleep. Re-doing bedtime routine, feeding baby again, talking to Big Sister, singing more songs, etc.
I was beyond stressed, and of course took it out on my husband. (So sorry, Honey.)
After one hour total of attempting this new change we ended up putting Baby Sister in a Pack-N-Play back in her room.
It was the absolute worst. And now that the morning light is here, I'm ready to share four things I learned from my experience last night. To help save YOU from making this horrible mistake.
1. Know Your Climate
Is everyone in a good mood? Were you stressed out at work all day? Did your toddler eat enough dinner? DON'T make decisions if they aren't a good fit for the climate of emotions within your home. This week has been super stressful with hitting Terrible Two's, shots for the baby, and cold temperatures outside. One stand-by in our home I can count on is bedtime. It's quick, efficient, and ends with both girls asleep for the night. I was stressed about all sorts of things outside of bedtime, and then went and added THAT to the list too! The climate for change was not ideal last night. Yet, I proceeded anyways. BAD IDEA.
2. Never Mess with Bedtime Routine
When I work one on one with clients I spend a great deal of time discussing the importance of a bedtime routine. It's non-negotiable. Your child needs a bedtime routine to help cue their body/brain that sleep is coming. Bath, lotion, feeding, stories, hugs, songs. All of these are wonderful ways to help slow your child's body down for the night. My girls depend on a solid routine every night. So when that was stripped away and subbed for coloring and a quick song they were absolutely frustrated. Rightly so! I had set NO expectation for them that it was bedtime. So don't skip the bedtime routine. Modify it if needed (skip bath and wash face instead) during the busy holiday season...but do not skip.
3. Make a Plan
I had been marinating the idea for days that we should start room-sharing for the girls. I kept the idea in my head until the day of, then shared the concept with my husband. About one hour before bath time. We never had a moment to sit down and make a plan of how we would do this. I thought that instead we could learn by doing. WRONG. When I work with families, I spend time learning about their family situation and writing a custom plan just for them. From there we spend an uninterrupted hour together walking through the plan step-by-step. After a frustrating hour last night of making up rules as we went, we finally threw in the towel and moved Baby back to her room in a Pack-N-Play. You better believe today I cleaned, arranged, and organized their shared room...AND discussed with my husband how we'll handle bedtime. Make a plan, ya'll. And stick to it.
4. Give Yourself a Break
It's going to take time. Not once have I worked with a family who saw 100% success from Night 1. Same with this! It's going to take a few nights for the girls to get used to the whines Baby Sister makes and the songs Big Sister likes to sing after lights-out. And *gasp* YES we will probably have a few wakes during the night. I expect that. But I'm not going to give up easily. After a few days (or a week) the girls will be used to this and accept it as their new normal. So give yourself, and them, a break. They'll learn soon enough.
*UPDATE: Night 2 they are both asleep within 10 minutes!*
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Questions about room-sharing? Middle of the night wakes? Send them to me!