DS’ sleep patterns over the past couple of months have been erratic to say the least. He will lull you into a false sense of security, you become excited that he is about to drift to sleep and start to plan the rest of your evening, then he screams. Loud. Over and over again.
All those books you read about parenting, sleepless nights and tactics? They do not lie. When you think you have a routine settled, along come a new set of teeth to ruin your life again. I remember posting here and here about DS’ beloved bouncy chair and oh how I miss it. These days bed time requires more discipline and heavier tactics, no more gadgets to ease the pain.
Prior to DS’ protruding canines, we had trained him to the point where all you needed to do was say, ‘DS it’s time to go to sleep now. Good night DS, I love you’, walk out the door and he would be sound asleep within minutes. However, teething has set him back once again and it has been a constant battle for months. He no longer wants to sleep at 7PM; we try for hours to no avail and he ends up staying awake until we go to bed. Sometimes we are so tired we allow him to sleep in our bed, to later risk everything and move him into the cot. I decided yesterday that it can no longer continue, my sanity will not allow it. I use to enjoy my evenings baby free, but now I have a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough that has been living in my freezer for way too long.
From the outset I did not plan to enforce the new routine last night, but my original strategy failed. I initially laid on the far end of the bed, facing the opposite direction to DS’ cot so he could not make eye contact with me, and waited patiently for him to fall asleep. This usually works in the day time, as he finds comfort in my presence even though he cannot necessarily see me. Though the evening is a very different story and needless to say, I failed tragically. DS cried, screamed, wailed, stamped his feet, shook the bars. I figured as he was already hysterical, I had nothing to lose, so I tried the new routine.
We had enforced this routine when DS was very young but it is very painful and involves a lot of stress. We would put him down, say goodnight and leave the room for a few minutes, then return and repeat this all over again. Each time I returned, I would give him a hug and put him down (he would always be standing at the foot of the cot) and increased the time in which I would return. He would cry out my name continuously, then sing Twinkle Little Star in between sobs; it was heart breaking to hear this. It was very hard not to cave in, especially considering he had been hysterical for a very long time and the walls in my house are particularly thin.
I left him for two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes and fifteen minutes, blocking out the screams and my ongoing headache, until he finally went to sleep. This was a total of an hour, including the time it took to fail the original plan. The silence was such a relief, I almost could not believe it. After a further fifteen minutes I crept up the stairs and peeked through the door, to find him fast asleep on a mountain of blankets and clothes which he had thrown from the foot of his bed. After that cuteness, I forgive him. I guess.