If you are a mother of young kids, you have probably read all there is to read about getting your toddler to sleep through the twilight.
After all, there are many books out there that tell you precisely what to do. I’ve read it all – “let them totally cry it out,” “begin after the first month,” “never let them sleep around you,” etc. Well, what does practical experience say? It just doesn’t eternally work. Suddenly you find yourself waking up several times a night for a 2-3-year-old, wondering how it ever happened.
For me, this happened because I think the first few months are essential for a kid to be tended to. Yet, it was time for her to quit waking up ten times every night, and I was finally determined to get her to sleep for a long stretch. So, at ten months old, I chose to tough it out and let her hang on to her headstrong will as long as she wished.
She cried for two hours straight before I went to bed to try and overlook it – but she wasn’t done. I glanced in to check on her, as the bed was strategically located for me to be able to see through the crack I had left without her seeing, and she was just crazy mad. I went to the couch and waited for the crying to subside.
Now at roughly two hours and 45 minutes of screaming, it suddenly got heavier, closer, and then further away. Naturally, I had to get up from my bed and check. She had moved herself out of her bed to come looking for me! There were no cushions to stand on; she just did a pull-up and rotated herself out, then crawled through the house to find me and give me a portion of her mind. Keep in mind that this ten-month-old little girl had just started walking and was not a large kid. She was only in the 10th percentile for her weight and height, and she still managed to maneuver out of her crib like a skillful monkey.
At this point, I knew my nights of sleeping without a kid were over. It was just dangerous, and my baby’s safety came before convenience.
Some of you may question why I didn’t let her cry it out sooner. I tried. She gave me sleepless nights for days. Frankly, she presumably would have flipped herself out even sooner than that and hurt herself. So now, being stuck with a stubborn baby, the only method I found that worked was the “star arrangement.”
The star arrangement game was so simple, yet I had to wait until she was old enough to know it. If she slept through the night, she got a star. When she reached 15 stars in a row, she got to choose the toy of her choice from Amazon. The catch to it was 15 stars in a row. So, if she only slept four nights and missed the fifth, she had to start over.
Every time she got frustrated, distracted, or lost sight of her aim, I showed her websites of exotic toys to make her see what she was missing. There were many tantrums and fits, but it finally worked. It took four whole months, but it worked — and she felt proud of herself as well.
For all you mammas like me, we are all in a place where some other parents judge us or don’t understand. Sometimes you can’t apply the rules, make it work, and still feel great about it. So all you moms should take solace in knowing that you are not the only one. It is not always a lack of structure or discipline; sometimes, it’s just what life gives you, and it only gets better.