We ran into a bit of trouble when my daughter moved to a big girl bed. Namely, there was room in it for me. When we all got sick last Thanksgiving, I was so sleep deprived, and so tired of tramping down the hall everytime she woke up, that I just crawled in bed with her. Sleep deprivation breeds desperation; as sleeping with her meant less interruptions to my sleep, I kept doing it. I told myself that I would just lay down with her until she fell asleep and then go back to my own bed, but I was inevitably so exhausted that I would fall asleep, too.
This was bad for a number of reasons. I was missing quality time with my husband. I was letting my daughter be in charge. I was getting a neckache from a toddler hogging the pillow.
After our Christmas travels were over, it was time to make the change. I started looking around for answers. We don’t like the “cry it out” methods, but we were at the end of our rope. One night, I told her a story about a little girl named Nora who was growing up. I told her all the things Nora could do by herself now and how one night, her mommy tucked her into bed with all her stuffed animal friends and how Nora sang herself to sleep. Then I tucked her into bed with all her animal friends and left the room. And she screamed. And screamed. And whimpered. And screamed some more. My husband re-tucked her. She settled down. Then screamed some more. Finally, she fell asleep. My husband and I were in tears. I felt terrible for creating the situation.
That night, I stayed up searching the internet, looking for a better way. I found something that seemed to be a better fit for our family. Here’s what we did that finally worked:
Step 1: I followed our normal bedtime routine to the letter; anticipating any stalling tactics, such as trips to the potty and drinks of water, providing them in advance.
Step 2: As I tucked her in, I explained that she was a big girl and could go to sleep by herself. I needed to let the dog outside, so I’d come and check on her in a few minutes.
Step 3: In about two minutes, I went back to her room, opened the door and told her she was doing a great job. I told her I’d come and check on her again in a few more minutes.
Step 4: Repeated Step 3.
Step 5: Went to my own bed and rejoiced. She was asleep in less than 10 minutes with no screaming.
We do this every night, and we’re down to one check back. This worked for Nora because she wants to be a big girl, but she still wants reassurance that I’m engaged with her and she’s not alone. Here’s a link to the article I found. Step eight was the key to our success. I hope this woman wins a billion dollars.