My kids are going through a phase right now. Both of them. At the same time. The same phase.
They can’t just lie down and go to sleep.
Noah’s always been our good sleeper. He wants to sleep alone, and when you put him in his crib, he often giggles because he’s so happy to be there. And then he promptly passes out for 12 hours or so at night, or up to three hours during the day.
I like this pattern. It makes for some major diaper leakage many mornings, but it works well for all of us. He’s a very happy boy when he gets enough sleep.
Sam is .¤.¤. well, she’s always been a challenge when it comes to sleeping. Like me, she has always slept much better with another human. She loves the snuggling, the closeness, the ability to smack someone in the face with the back of your hand because you’re acting out a dream and don’t realize it.
We’ve tried myriad approaches and strategies to get her to stay in her bed at night.
It used to be fairly easy to get Sam to fall asleep in her bed. She’d wander over in the middle of the night, but at least the tuck-in routine was fairly sacred and enough to get her to sleep for a few hours.
I think these two have banded together to stage a protest.
Most nights, Noah stills lies down just fine. We read a few books, we give kisses, we turn on his white-noise machine, we turn out the light, I get my own special smooch, he lies down in the crib, I spread blankie out on top of the pillow, I tuck Penguin in beside him and I cover him with The Soft Blanket.
Door closed — aaaaaaaand, we’re out.
Except the demands start after the door closes: “Mom, turn the fan off!” “No, Mom, where’s Puppy? I can’t find Puppy.”
And, my favorite:
“What’s wrong, buddy?”
“Do you need something? Are you missing anything?”
So I close the door. And I hear, “No, Mom, WAIT!”
And Samantha … again, well, it’s a struggle. She is a master at making up reasons to get out of bed.
“I needed to use the bathroom again.”
“I needed a drink of water.”
“There’s a bug in my room. Can you please come kill it?”
“I forgot to tell you something about my day.”
“I drew a picture just for you and want you to have it to sleep with tonight.”
“I don’t like my room anymore. It’s too scary.” (This is one I can relate to, because I was terrified at night as a kid.)
“I dropped my Barbie and can’t find her. Can you help me look for her?”
“My throat hurts.”
“My leg hurts.”
“My arm hurts.”
“I’m afraid a mosquito is going to get into the house and bite me.”
“Mom, I’ve tried reading, and drawing pictures, and closing my eyes and thinking happy thoughts, and talking to my stuffed animals, but I still can’t go to sleep. Can I sleep in your bed?”
We’ve escorted her back to bed an infinite number of times. We’ve doled out clearly explained consequences, such as moving her bedtime back by 15 minutes the next night for every time she gets up.
At 10:30 p.m., nothing matters to an overtired 7-year-old. She just wants to not be in her bed.
And so there are many nights when I want to be just like the dad in that Mercer Mayer book and yell, “JUST GO TO BED!”
Amy Gulli is mommy to daughter Sam, 6, and son Noah, 2. She writes about parenting at yorkblog.com/mommy.