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Posts tagged ‘Bedtime’

Getting our 3-Year-Old Back to Good Sleep… In 9 (Not Easy) Steps

Yesterday, I wrote about how we found ourselves struggling with sleep with Cee. We knew it was time to make a change, and we knew this meant asking Cee to fall asleep on her own at night, without one of us sitting in her room with her. I want to share how we approached this transition, but I don't believe this is a magic formula by any means. I don't think there are easy answers to parenting challenges like these, and what works well in one family might be a flop in another. I am proud of how we thought this through and put a plan into action, and it has seriously given our entire family (Cee included) more happiness around bedtime. Here's what we did.

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How My 3-Year-Old’s Sleep Fell Apart

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that after I finished my book, I needed a sort of parenting reset with Cee. One of the big areas that we needed to work on was sleep. Bedtime had become a battle, and it was taking Cee a long time to fall asleep. This was leaving us all frustrated at the end of the day, and Cee was waking up grumpy in the mornings. I didn't have the energy and attention to work on it while I was trying to finish my book, although in hindsight I'm not sure why we waited this long. Over the last couple of weeks, we've made some big changes to get us back to happy bedtimes.

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Mama, Talk Busy Day?

Cee was sick about a month ago – sick in a flu-sort of way with fever, cough, stuffy nose, and general misery. We threw our regular sleep routines out the window. There was a lot of back rubbing and singing to help her to sleep and more of the same when she woke burning with fever during the night, needing some reassurance from Mama or Daddy and another dose of ibuprofen.

Once she was better, Cee had a bit of a hard time transitioning back to our regular routine of books, song, and goodnight. She said, “Mama, lie down?” wanting me to stay with her until she fell asleep. I couldn’t get into that habit.  I had humored her a few times, and I knew how it went. I would lay down next to her until her breathing slowed and she was still, but I’d still be afraid to budge for another 20 minutes to be sure she was in a deep sleep. By that time, I would either fall asleep myself or at the very least have lost all motivation to do anything productive for the rest of the night. Plus, I hate the sneaking out thing. It makes me feel like I’m not being honest with her. Cee knows how to go to sleep on her own.

mama and ceeInstead, I stayed with her for a few extra minutes. I held her hand and talked quietly about her day, full of friends at daycare, walks outside, time with mommy and daddy, meals, bath, books, and all the regular mundane things we do together. It was a busy day, I told her, and tomorrow would be another busy day. Time to rest, little girl. Night night. I kissed first one hand and then the other and then her forehead, now thankfully cool now since the fever was gone. It was a good bedtime. She fell asleep, and I got to work.

The next night, as I was kissing her goodnight, she said, “Mama, lie down?”

“No,” I said, “I’m not going to lie down with you. I need to go work upstairs.” (She actually accepts this response. It seems to make sense to her.)

She had another idea.

“Mama, talk busy day?”

And so began our new bedtime tradition. It’s Cee’s favorite part of bedtime now, and mine too. She asks for it with anticipation every night. When Husband is home at bedtime, he shares in it as well. We snuggle together in a Cee sandwich and recall the day. Read more