Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Little Peace and Quiet

I would just like to announce that we have experienced a breakthrough in the Cooper house. I think I can feel my sanity slowly returning.

First, let me tell you about bedtime here. We have always been pretty "strict" with Abigail's bedtime rules at our house. If anything, we do sometimes fail in being consistent with the time that she goes to bed, but we have always stuck to a few ground rules. When she was a baby, I asked my SuperMommy friend, Christianne, who has two small girls, and a boy on the way, how she got them to sleep. She immediately hopped on Amazon and sent me a copy of BabyWise, which is all about getting your kids on a schedule. She also advocated crying it out. That can be a tough thing for some parents to experience, but I firmly believe that they are quickly trained this way.

We tried the cry-it-out method with Abigail when she was maybe about six months old, and within two nights, were all sleeping soundly. No more mid-night wake-ups. No more needing to be lulled to sleep. I put her to bed while she was still awake, kissed her goodnight, and that was the end of it.

That all worked fine and dandy until some point in the last year when she learned to yell our names and stall. Stall, stall, stall. We would put her to bed, go through all of the goodnight routine, and then as soon as I shut the door, they demands/requests would start. She needed her Pullup changed. She needed help turning over (she has trouble getting the blanket pulled back up after she turns over). She needed help turning over again five minutes later. And again. She needed Baby Haley, who just happened to be right next to her in her bed. She needed water. She was mad that I didn't reply when she yelled "I love you." Then, "See you in the morning." Then, "You're the best." Seriously, on and on and on went the reasons that she was not going to sleep.

We thought we were being strict enough because we would never take her out of her bed. We would do what she wanted, but she was not allowed out of her bed, even if it was just for an extra hug. Hugs happened over the rail of her crib. Yes, she is still in a crib at three. We have been talking up the Big Girl bed for some time, but she has never once tried to or realized she could try to climb out of her crib. I figure life is pretty easy if she is still enclosed, so we have the bed waiting patiently upstairs, but are in no big rush to move her into it.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, my friend April was visiting and the bedtime routine was in full swing. April said, "Have you ever told her you're not coming in any more?"

I looked at her, dumbfounded. "No, I guess I haven't. I always tell her that if I have to come in again she will be in trouble, but I've never told her I'm not coming in." I just realized that in a toddler way, we had to do another cry-it-out. Then I remembered a genius tip from Parents magazine, and immediately started using it.

Now, when Abigail goes to bed, she is given two little plastic hearts (from her hopscotch). I remind her every night that the two hearts are two times that I will come into her room. When she calls me in for something, she has to give me one of the hearts. But I will come in and cover her up again or whatever it is without being huffy and frustrated. When she calls me in again, she has to give me the second heart. When I have both hearts and she doesn't have any left, I am not coming into her room any more. Even if she cries, she just has to cry it out, because I (firmly) am not coming in any more.

And it.........WORKS!!!!

Okay, the first night it was implemented was rough and she cried so hard she threw up all over her bed. But either the vomit all over her Disney Princess sheets scared her straight, or she just caught on to the idea. Every night since then, she has gone to bed with no problems. Some nights she calls me in twice, but she has never called me in again after I have both of her hearts. Sometimes she just uses one heart. And sometimes.......get this.....she just goes straight to sleep! Glory Hallelujah!

That means that I am free to get right to my Facebook or whatever is showing on Bravo that night. You know, important stuff. Oh, or sometimes I actually spend some time with my husband. Watching movies.


Beth said...

Cherish the crib while you can!! Our bedroom seems to be most populated at about 2-5 am. :)

Christianne said...

SuperMommy approves. :-) Yay!

LOL about the vomit on the Disney Princess sheets. Kudos to Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella for being willing to "take one for the team"...