In an act of desperation, I posted this message on a private Facebook group page seeking advice from my bestest mommy girlfriends (my inspiration for all that is right in motherhood).
March 18: I need advice!! I’ve been lying down with my boys in their bed at night since a couple of weeks before our move. We slept in the same bed for two weeks in our hotel. And I’m lying in their bed now in our new home. We’re starting week 3 here and I’m still lying down with them at night. It’s agonizing now! Any time I try to get away before they fall asleep, they scream “no!” like I’m leaving them with a pack of wolves. I need to stop this madness, but I’m not sure the best way. What would you ladies do? Would you just stop it now, tonight, say good night and let them scream until they fall asleep? Or ease into it by sitting in a chair in their room and each day moving farther and farther from their bed. Advice pleeeeeeease!
Can you feel my fear here? I just knew that if I just kissed them goodnight after their bedtime stories, they’d throw a huge fit that I wasn’t sure I was mentally ready for. I also knew that they’d wake in the middle of the night screaming for me to lay with them and nobody would get any sleep for days and days. With the stress of the move and organizing everything in my life, I didn’t think I could take this big change. But I also knew I couldn’t let this continue. I was losing all of my “me” time by laying down with them. I wouldn’t leave their room until about 9:00 p.m. and by then I was ready to just jump into my own bed. But wasn’t that easier than having to hear them cry for an hour? I’ll admit it, I was looking for easy!
I had read about the Sleep Lady and her method gentle sleep training. You ease into it. You start out by sitting in a chair next to their bed and you can comfort them and reassure them until they fall asleep. Then a few nights later, or the next night, you move your chair farther from the bed. Eventually, you’ll be chilling in the hallway instead of their room. I tried this for a few nights and though I’m sure it works brilliantly for some moms, I thought to myself that I’d never break free from the chair-so, why not just do this in one fell swoop?
COLD TURKEY – like a few of my friends suggested.
And so I woke that next morning knowing tonight I will end this bedtime madness. I was nervous all day and I had my armor on-the I know I’m going to fight a battle until the wee hours of morning and not get any sleep tonight game play in my mind. I coached my boys all day long, “mommy isn’t sleeping with you tonight. I’m going to tell you three stories and then I’m going to kiss you and say good night and I love you, then I’m going to go to sleep in my room.” I even had Luke repeat that back to me mid-day. “You’re going to tell us three stories then go sleep in your room. Why?” Finally, it was time. It was 7:30 p.m. and we had just finished our third story. Game on! “Okay, boys. I love you so much and I hope you have sweet dreams. I’m going to go sleep in my room now.” I kissed them both. Zealand squirmed and suggested, “no mama, lay here.” Here we go. “No Z, mama is going to her room. I’ll check on you when you fall asleep.” And I headed to the door. “Good night my loves,” I said. In position, ready for the next move. “Good night mommy,” Luke said as he pulled his doggie close to his chest. And I shut the door behind me. I stood there for a few minutes waiting for the screaming and the begging. All I got was an indulgent quiet.
You won’t believe what happened next…
Absolutely nothing! They slept like angels through the night in what may have been the most peaceful stretch of sleep I’d gotten in years. It’s been about a month now, and aside from the occasional “will you please lay with us until we fall asleep” to which I answer “mommy has to sleep in her room, but I will check on you in a little bit”…and of course, the “I need a sip of water” or “one more kiss please”…there hasn’t been any more bedtime battles.
I could’ve let fear override many of my decisions as a mother and I’d still be sleeping with my boys and not having any time to write or watch Dance Moms Miami. The lesson I learned is so beautiful.
Whether you’re about to get rid of the bottle, change up your bedtime routine, or attempt some other change that seems impossible or scary – JUST DO IT. Maybe it will be a little challenging, but it probably won’t be as bad as you’re thinking. Plus, the sooner the better. And you know you’ll get through it. As we all know, kids are resilient. They can handle change. You just have to take the lead and show them who is boss.
And remember, YOU are the boss! 😉