Today is the end of the first week Sullivan has gone to bed by himself.
Up until this past Monday, Sullivan had been co-sleeping with us. Pretty much since he was born. When he was an infant, we had his crib side-car’d to the bed (for safety reasons). There was a brief while when we moved his crib into his own room (around age 1) and I would lay him down in his bed at around 9pm. He would inevitably wake up around midnight or so, and we’d end up just bringing him to bed with us. It was tough; Mel and I were both full-time students so we just really never had the available time to dedicate to getting him into a routine. Plus, it’s just really hard when you’re holding the door shut so he can’t open it, all while he’s screaming tearfully and trying to get you to let him out (“Yah-yeeeee!!!! Maiiiii!!! Baff? Toyees?”)
After we had Freyja, it became painfully apparent that co-sleeping all four of us just wasn’t happening. We have a king-size bed and all, but Sullivan inevitably ends up sleeping diagonal (he gets that from his mom), and I always end up sleeping in the crevice between the wall and the edge of the bed. I haven’t slept next to my wife for a full-night in over two years.
We also never really had a consistent bedtime for Sullivan, either. During this past academic year, we tried to do a bedtime, but it always took 2 hrs or more to put him to bed, which is time that I really needed to use for studying (I mistakenly took a rather difficult last semester ). He had just been staying up with us until we went to bed. Melissa and I were both stressed out because (a) we felt like we never had any time together, and (b) we never had any time to ourSELVES to do the things we needed to do. There were many nights where I would go to bed and then wake up around 12:30 or 1am to work on the computer.
So last week, before my sister’s wedding, I made a resolution that beginning Monday, Sullivan would be sleeping in his bed at a regular bedtime. It was going to happen. By hook or by crook.
We had prepared for this by getting better curtains to keep out the lights from the factory next door, a small mp3 player to play him some music, and some nightlights to make the dark a little more bearable. We had already bought him a new toddler bed and pretty fish-themed bed spread.
The first night was soooooooooooooooooooooo hard. It was over 2 hours solid of standing, sitting, and leaning by his bedroom door, tightly holding the door shut while he tried, over and over, to pull it open. My kingdom for a door lock! (The “child-proof” doorhandle covers are pathetically ineffective — he figured out how to disassemble them in about 30 minutes.) He slept in his room until about 2am, then came in with us. I figured that was acceptable for the first night.
The rest of the week got progressively easier. I wisened up and put a chair by his door, set up my laptop to watch hulu and youtube, with earphones, and kept at it. Each day, it took less and less time until tonight, when I laid him down and was able to just close the door and walk away; he fell asleep in less than 10 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, he definitely does NOT like going to bed still; if I didn’t have size advantage, this would probably not be happening. I figure if we keep doing this though, eventually he’ll warm up to it. Bed time has been right around 9:15pm every night so far. I suppose as the days shorten, we can push it back to 8:30pm, but I’m happy with anything in that area.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, he still takes naps, and at regular times even! Yesterday, I laid him down at about 9:30pm and he slept, more or less, the entire night, waking up at about 7:30am to come in and snuggle with us in our bed. He did wake up at around 2:30am, but he didn’t leave his room — I laid with him in his bed for a couple hours.
I think it’s going well so far, and my hope is that after a month of this, he’ll be used to it and it won’t be so hard for him.