#EpicFail: I Enabled The Bedtime Battle #NoMore #SleepTraining

For those of you who've been following me since the beginning, you know I am a textbook sleep training loser. I've caved to every bedtime need and whim of my child since birth.

My first attempt at the 'Cry It Out' method lasted all of thirty-seconds. I decided that night, hearing my baby scream like that was not an option. So with CIO off the table, I resorted to nursing or rocking my baby to sleep... for the next 2.5yrs.

No wait, it gets worse...

Six months ago, when FTD decided to move Ollie from his crib to a toddler bed, I told him it was a bad idea, and I was right!The minute I had him rocked to sleep, I would try to put him in his bed, only to be me with tears and protests. Ollie has not slept in that stupid bed through the night ONCE!

He's looking at it like; "You're shitting me, right? Where's my crib?
Screw it. Where's your bed?

Why yes, you are correct, that is pure dumbassery...

It took about two months of various toddler torture tactics before I caved; I gave up on rocking and let him start the night in my bed with books and cuddles until he fell asleep. Please note, when I say "cuddle," I really mean, He puts me in a choke hold and turns my head so my cheek lines up with his, then makes jokes, sings, farts, laughs hysterically and tells me stories about anything he can think of.

I lay very still praying he falls asleep before I lose my shit.

When he finally falls asleep (sometimes an hour later!), I sneak out of bed like it's Alcatraz.

I know. I need my head checked.

Well, my friends, I have some good news, IT'S OVER! I've reclaimed power over bedtime!

Of course, it all happened by accident...

Two weeks ago, the cat wouldn't stop crying, so I told Ollie to stay in bed while I checked on Professor, and that I would be right back. I ran to check on the cat only to find him annoyed that he was out of food. I fed him and went right back upstairs and, (GASP!) found Ollie asleep!

Two nights later the phone rang, again I told him I would be right back... 10 minutes later, I check on him and he was asleep...


For the past week, I have made up an excuse to escape after books and a few minutes of cuddles. Not once has he gotten out of bed! Without fail, I leave and he goes right to sleep!

It kills me to think I have been enabling the bedtime battle by laying with him. I can't help but think I was keeping him up! #EpicFail

As much as I want to cry for all of the HOURS I wasted laying next to him, I'm just happy it's over.

My friends, if my story sounds familiar and you too are laying down with your little for a ridiculous amount of time while they laugh, joke, sing, tell stories, pull your hair, put you in a headlock and make you want to cry, then try giving an excuse to run off for a few minutes and see if it puts an end to your bedtime battle.

Oh, and FYI: Later when I go to sleep, I carry him to his bed so for a few precious minutes before he wakes up and climbs back in my bed,  I can sleep without being kicked or slapped with toddler jazz hands.

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com


LADY M4CK said...

Cracking me up as always!

We are talking about transitioning from crib to bed this summer (he's a year and a half now). I'm way hoping to avoid all the tears!!!! (dreading ....)


April McCormick said...

DON'T DO IT!! EVVVVEEEEERRRRRRRR!!! (Stop shaking your head at me, every other parent in the world.) First of all, toddler beds suck! You can't fit in it when you get kicked out of your bed at 2am by a crazy toddler. (See above photo for what's to come) if you must allow your child to grow up and curb the crib, then Skip the toddler bed and buy one you can fit in, and will last your child for years, not months.

Anonymous said...

OMG! This is exactly my story with my son. Except that I find a reason to disappear once he's tucked in after about 30 seconds vs. your 10 minutes. The longer I stay, the more likely it is that he will not let me leave. I too felt like a dummy for wasting so many hours of my life, but I'm so happy we figured it now vs in another year!

April McCormick said...

So I'm still wasting 9.5 minutes? Damn. I'm going to start thinking of my excuse now and try to bail out earlier!

Christy G said...

I am thankful that my husband helped me sleep train my youngest. He is a good sleeper now. He still wants me to tuck him in and give him several kisses and hugs. Some nights I still have to walk out if he is fussing. I started him in his toddler bed and now he has moved to his big boy bed.

ElleByTheSea said...

Hey girrrrl! Was just thinking of you, and saw this post.

Funny, I just wrote about a semi-related sleep issue on the KidCash Facebook page (for the older one). I failed to tell you that I'm a user experience designer, and it's a huge part of my style of parenting. I like to present two choices to give them some control over the situation, but at the same time explain why I want them to choose the choice that I really want them to take. In my sons case, I would tell him that he could stand by my bed all night, he couldn't come in it, but that he had a comfortable room and bed if he wanted to stop standing there. Then I'd just sleep, and when he would try to climb in, I would tell him that's not part of the deal. He stood there for an hour, and then the next day he went back to his bed no problem.

Ollie is still a bit young for KidCash but you can start telling him things that show him that you care about him and his sleeping health. My daughter is 2 and she actually stops crying about going to sleep when I explain to her how beneficial sleep is. It leads me to believe that she understands somewhat. I'll just copy paste what I wrote on the FB page but every wednesday now, I'll be writing an example of user experience in parenting if you're interested.


The sleeping post is near the top...

ElleByTheSea said...

Changing the experience from fight to help...

One of the most powerful aspects of KidCash is the ability to explain why rules exist in a way where the child sees that you are not enforcing rules to gain power and control, but because you care about them and want them to learn how to take care of themselves.

A good example is when your child stays up too late, or doesn't want to go to sleep on time. I don't know about you, but I relish these teachable moments. So let's see what happens...

Your child was really excited, maybe had a few cookies and an ice cream cone and now doesn't want to go to sleep. As an adult, I know what is about to happen and so I tell the child that night, hey...if you don't get enough sleep, you're going to feel pretty crappy tomorrow. Are you sure you want to stay up?

I tell him he will get a ticket if he stays up, but that the reason I don't want him to stay up is for his own good. I will then explain to him that at night, it is thought that your body cleanses itself of toxins, restores energy into it's cells, muscles and brain. The brain literally washes itself of the garbage it accumulates during the day. (http://www.nih.gov/news/health/oct2013/ninds-17.htm). Not sleeping enough allows these toxins accumulate. You have all of this garbage in your brain, your eyes, your arms and legs and this could be why you feel so yucky in the morning. Sleep is a time when the body can heal, the mind can store long term memories, and you can experience growth spurts. If you think your child is too young to tell all of this to, you'd be surprised at how interested they are the more complicated the tale. (Or maybe my children are nerds...though I think children are inquisitive and more intelligent than we sometimes guess.)

After hearing all of this, my son will usually take this into consideration, and stay up anyway. The next morning, of course he feels like crap. This is when you reinforce this information. I will say, "So remember what we were talking about last night? Don't you feel yucky? Doesn't your head hurt, your eyes hurt? Do you know why this is?" He will usually tell me what he remembers about the garbage in the brain.

Then I will respond, "I only want what's best for you. As you grow older, you have to learn how to do the things that will make you feel good. You have to pay attention to your body. If you don't want to feel this way, you have to make sure you sleep more. Understand?"

I will then repeat this again at dinner time when it's time to give out the tickets. I ask him if he remembers how bad he felt that morning. I then suggest to him that he tries harder to get better sleep, for his own sake. Then I deduct the dollar but it's so after the fact, that he's not mad about it. He accepts it.

He will usually go to sleep no problem the next day, and cite that he wants to feel good. There's no struggle trying to get him to go to bed when you change the experience from fight to help.

Open communication, trust, love and a mentality that we're all in this together. This is the type of experience that will naturally help your child want to cooperate with you. As far as teaching a man to fish, I'm letting him get practice young in the act of paying attention to his body, taking care of himself and knowing how to be healthy.

I will be giving more examples of these "change the experience" lessons in the coming year as I start to plan out some exciting things. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Happy Parenting!