I used to be a firm believer in the non co-sleeping, baby needs a schedule – eat, play, sleep Babywise movement. Maybe, it’s because our first child actually thrived within that structured environment. Then it seems all hell broke loose, five years later, when number two came along and all that structure and scheduling went out the window.
My preschooler won’t stay in bed at night and sleep
Our preschooler is now four years old and we are bribing him daily with double stuff Oreo cookies and a working Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner if he would just stay in his own bed. How did we get here? Why won’t my preschooler stay in his own bed at night and sleep? What changed? Would moms or dads with three or more kids just look at me and say “suck it up girlfriend, try it with three or four or five kids.”
Been There Done That, Think Again!
From the day our son was born, we thought we had it covered. You know, been there done that. And, actually for the first two months I think we did alright. And, then school started for our oldest and our slow summer season at work came to an end along with our beloved schedule. You would think with the oldest at school, sticking to a timed schedule would be easy. Wrong! The baby would fall asleep in the car during the drive to school, which for one of us, meant driving around town for the next hour or so. If we tried to move him, he would wake up crying and that would be the end of nap time. As if we needed more punishment, our daughter’s school day ended right in the middle of the afternoon nap.
Eat, Play, Sleep – Repeat
We made adjustments here and there. We attempted to stick to a tried and true pattern – eat, play, sleep repeat. It’s the same Babywise approach that we swore up and down worked with our older child and told every other parent about. I mean how can you argue with no tantrums, asleep by 8pm and in their own bed all night long? We really tried to make it work. Some nights my husband would sleep on the floor in the little guy’s room, while I was willing to let him cry it out. Bad mommy! But, I guess when you have others living under the same roof, my talent for tuning out or selective hearing might come off as selfish, so we took turns sleep walking our way to his room when he cried and sitting/sleeping in the lazy boy chair until he fell back to sleep and we could sneak out. Eventually, it paid off… for him. My husband and I were zombie wrecks living off coffee, but he was happy, he went to sleep at a decent time and he slept in his own bed.
Baby Has An Imagination
Then one day something changed or some things changed. One, his imagination began to get more profound as is common with many preschoolers and he discovered he didn’t have to cry and wait for us to come to him. He could make a jail break… and he did. That was about seven months ago.
Several times a week now we get jarred out of a deep sleep by the sound of our bedroom door being rattled open and slammed shut, because there is no quiet way for our four-year old to open and shut a door. It’s just not in his DNA and neither is quietly and calmly crawling into our bed, specifically my side of the bed. We’ve tried bribing him with cookies for making it through a single night in his own bed and when he asked repeatedly for his own working vacuum, we added the Dirt Devil to the list of items he could receive if he made it a week. He’s since earned the vacuum and helps with the cleaning, which by the way is fantastic, but we’re back to square one with the bed thing. Smart little guy is playing us!
Yes, I am a sentimental sap!
My husband says this has gone on long enough and wants to solve the sleeping issue ASAP. He might say I mailed it in, threw up my hands and said “whatever,” and he’s right. I know he would walk our son back to his room at 4am, but would I? Am I being lazy? I’m not so sure. Yes, I have more dark circles under my eyes, am a little grumpier in the morning and walk around like I’m in a daze at times. I am also the little guy’s jungle gym in the wee hours and the large obstacle that blocks his way to a warm, cuddly, safe space. But, here’s the thing… he doesn’t seem to care, and at this point neither do I. He’s my last baby, my last chance to savor the cuddling, and my last opportunity to wake up in the morning to see him peacefully asleep with his head next to mine sharing my pillow. At some point he will think it’s too babyish to crawl into our bed and want nothing to do with us or me for that matter. So thank you Dr. Robert Bucknam and Gary Ezzo and all the other baby sleep gurus out there, I think I’ve got it handled from here.
Sleep Aids for Your Baby
I’m not saying Becoming Babywise is wrong or doesn’t work. Like I mentioned earlier, it totally worked for our oldest child and I would still recommend it. Because I am becoming a sentimental sap, it’s not the best fit for me at this time. I devoured the Babywise Books. Another trick that worked for both my kids, and is still working are the Baby Einstein Lullaby CDs. They even put me to sleep.