I told you here about how my 2-year-old began waking in the middle of the night again and went through a month of night wakings. Oh, the joys of a toddler’s disruptive sleep. Now I’m going to tell you how I finally snapped myself into action and conquered this issue.
Are you ready for it? Consistency.
That’s it, plain and simple. I don’t mean to oversimplify, here, but I told you in my prior post that I was doing things like:
- going in her room to soothe her
- taking her a drink of water
- changing her diaper
- bringing her to my room
- rocking her
- laying on the bed in her room with her.
Guess what that was doing? Totally confusing the heck out of her. I was sending her so many mixed signals. She’s only two, but don’t let the age fool you. She is one smart cookie, and she knew that if she called me or cried, I was going to come. She understood that she was going to get something different from me, and when I say “different” I mean that she knew she was going to break the rules and push the boundaries. Toddlers are all about testing the limits, aren’t they? But what they really want and need (and, really, most of us) are some clear cut rules and consistency.
This takes me back to when she was an infant. My body and mind were so out of whack from the sleep deprivation and inconsistency, I couldn’t function straight most of the time. My moods were all over the place, I was cranky, tired, and didn’t feel well rested. Well, when my daughter was having her wacky wake-ups, she was experiencing the same thing.
Once I got back on the horse of consistency, things moved swimmingly back to normal within a matter of a week. I made a firm decision that I was not going to send her any mixed signals and that things were going to be status quo, pre-disruptive sleep. So the next night when she asked to come to my bed as I was laying her down for the night, I told her no. I explained to her that mommy and daddy sleep in their room and she sleeps in her room. She didn’t let me off that easy, of course.
She cried for the first 20 minutes or so, then it simmered down to a whine. After a total of 30 minutes, give or take, she was asleep. She woke up again around 1:30 am and began doing the whine-cry. I did not go into her room, I did not speak to her through the monitor. I knew she was physically okay. Instead, I watched her on the monitor and she whined herself back to sleep after 30 minutes or so. She woke at her normal time later that morning, as if nothing ever happened.
Again, it wasn’t that easy. Nope. We endured similar nights for the next week, off and on. I never went into her room because I felt like she was okay since she wasn’t indicating otherwise. Sure, she stood up a few times and called for me, but I never sprinted down the hall into in her room. A couple of times I told her over the monitor that she was ok, mommy could see her and loved her, and it was time to go back to sleep. She didn’t like it, but she did go back to sleep after some time passed each night. By the end of the week, the problem had worked itself out and we were back to status quo.
Since then, she has not had one night of disruptive sleep. As a matter of fact, she has said to me on more than one occasion, “I’m not crying in my bed anymore.” Or when I am putting her to bed for the night, “Mommy, you go to your room and sleep and I stay in my room and sleep.” She has been blissfully and happily back to her normal 11 or so hours of night sleep and I have been resting peacefully, too! Phew! Consistency is key.
I have to admit, I am dreading moving her to a toddler bed. I can see it now . . . she is going to be exploring her room at all hours of the night, flushing the toilet in her bathroom until it floods, and probably coming down the hall to get in bed with her daddy and I. I’m not even going to think about that for another year, I’m just going to enjoy my sleep until then!