Category Archives: sleep

Bedtime Redemption?

(Notice the question mark… after the past three months, I’m unlikely to be declarative about most things…)

As noted, the Pacifier Fairy (and some other things that are still being sorted out) had some unintended consequences in our house. Namely, Boopsie’s ability to fall and stay asleep disappeared. Gone.

At first, we tried to soldier on as we had… two books, potty and brush teeth, one book, go to sleep with some books in bed to look at. And it didn’t work. We tried putting her back in bed without talking to her (one night we did that 32 times). We tried doing bed checks (she would scream bloody murder and kick her closed door). In desperation, we began laying on her floor while she fell asleep, which could regularly take 75 minutes or more.

Reacting how I normally do when faced with a parenting dilemma, I reached for my old standby — books. I re-read pertinent sections in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Family, The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight. I also hired a parenting coach, who suggested that Boopsie may have some sensory integration dysfunction.

In the interim, Daddy-o and I were having to stay in Boopsie’s room until she fell asleep and then we were often  called back in there in the middle of the night to sleep on the floor (in the middle of the winter, in the northland, as an alternative to having her end up in our bed). It. Was. Hell. This was all additionally complicated by travel and tantrums and being generally shell-shocked by the changes in our kid.

So we tried the “sleep shuffle” from The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight. And it took about three weeks. And it worked. Sort of.  But our kid still wouldn’t really nap and was waking still in the night. Oh, and she wasn’t actually falling asleep (usually) until close to 10 p.m. (Side note: Sleep deprived preschoolers and having one parent “booked up” with a kid until 10 p.m. every night are not great marital aids.)

Man and child outside Build A Bear Workshop

Daddy-o and Boopsie with the bunny.

We got a new night light. We got a new clock for her room. We tried letting her color in bed. We started playing music in her bedroom.We tried a reward chart. It took her 42 days to earn 15 stars. She earned a trip to Build A Bear workshop and was so overwhelmed by the crowds that she didn’t want to build a bear. So she picked a bunny she was thrilled about.

Then she got sick (and then we got sick).  And she needed more help falling asleep and we were back to sitting in the rocker in her room, trying to get her to stay quietly in bed, often threatening to leave and do checks (and sometimes leaving and doing checks). I felt like a hostage.

Finally, last week, with help from the parenting coach, I re-made bedtime again. The first two nights were tough, with tears and me having to prove to Boopsie that I would not come back to her until 9 minutes was up (she was gated in her room), no matter what she said. But then I made a little tweak and bedtime has gotten much better. In fact, one night my kid fell asleep on her own before 9 p.m. And she’s consistently falling asleep on her own (okay, is six days enough to say “consistently”?). Without tears. I won’t bore you with the details of her new bedtime routine because what works for one kid has no guarantee of working for another kid. I will say this: I cherish the time and mental energy I’ve gotten back. Getting 1-2 hours back into our evening has made Daddy-o and I much happier people. We can do little things around the house. We can have uninterrupted conversations. We can watch a TV show. We can work if we need to. We can just freaking be.

You may be wondering why we didn’t have her “cry it out.” I was actually very close to doing this in December. I queried other parents via Facebook and got a lot of support and tips. Here’s the thing: One thing that has been reinforced for us over the past three months is that Boopsie is an incredibly intense kid. And with the question of sensory issues still on the table, along with her the length and strength of her tantrums, we truly did not have any confidence that it would work. If anything, we figured she’d cry for hours until she passed out. And that wasn’t going to help her re-learn to relax and fall asleep. I don’t begrudge anyone who tries the “CIO” approach, but for our kid, it was a no-go.

So here I am… enjoying a whole hour of time I didn’t have this night a week ago, feeling like maybe, just maybe, we have found the bedtime promised land again. (As a superstitious person of Irish descent, I’m almost certain that by talking about this it’s all going to hell in a handbasket. Let’s hope not.)

Sweet dreams to you and yours…

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Pacifier Fairy, Part 2

Wow. I was supposed to write this post more than two months ago. In fact, I even drafted it. It was going to be about how we sent a couple of “prep notes” from the paci fairy, and how Boopsie helped pack up all the pacifiers into a plastic bag, and how she helped me set them in the yard. And how she cried some at that bedtime, but slept all night and went on to get over it really quickly.

But then something happened. On the day after I posted Pacifier Fairy Part One, all hell broke loose with our kid. What do I mean by all hell breaking loose? Well, let’s see:

  • She went on a sleep strike… bedtime became a multi-hour battle, naps were treacherous
  • She started having epic, violent tantrums including throwing things, hitting and kicking
  • Her personality changed into one I didn’t really recognize. Boopsie became much more anxious, whiny and angry.

I’m not sure how to convey the impact this had on our family, in part because we are still trying to find our way out. Our attempts to find our way out have included:

  • Scouring the interwebs
  • Hiring a parent coach
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Putting a lock on the outside of her door
  • Multiple trips to the pediatrician
  • Reading books… lots of books (more on those to come)

We’re still trying to figure out if we’re somewhere on the continuum of “normal” or if there’s something else going on with Boopsie that we need to address. But that’s what’s been happening in the silence — stress, fear, anger, exhaustion and worry. So much worry. Thankfully, there’s been joy, too, and fun. And I think (and hope and pray) that we’re getting back somewhere more familiar.

All that to say… hello, strangers. More soon.

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The Pacifier Fairy… Part I

Pacifiers

Our little junkie’s brand of choice. Oh, and despite what the label says, they can move kids’ teeth out of whack.Way back in July, we mentioned to our little paci-addict that the “Pacifier Fairy” would be coming to take her pacifiers and give them to little babies who needed them. In exchange, we explained, Boopsie would receive some fun surprises. This did not go over well.

Way back in July, after Boopsie’s first (disastrous) trip to the dentist, we started discussing a visit from the Pacifier Fairy. The Pacifier Fairy, I explained to Boo, would come and take all her pacifiers away and give them to little babies who need pacifiers. In exchange, the “Paci Fairy” would leave fun surprises behind.

My sister was visiting the first time this conversation came up. She put Boopsie to bed one night and they had a long conversation about the Paci Fairy. Boopsie was concerned about the PF coming in her room, and about having to give up her pacifiers… you name it. So we let it ride for a while.

We were prompted into all of this by Boopsie’s dentist, who noticed her teeth going out of alignment and recommended we ix-nay the pacifiers ASAP. We thought about it, but after her negative reaction in July, we basically wussed out and decided to let it ride for a while. I mean, the pacifiers were her COMFORT OBJECT(S). Boopsie liked to go to bed with one in her mouth and one in her hand. And when she was especially tired, she would rub the one in her hand along her cheek. She did not, however, use a pacifier at day care, so we knew we had this going for us. Unfortunately, her regular routine was that when we would pick her up at day care, Boopsie would dig through her bag until she found a pacifier and stuff it in her mouth. And when she’d do that, you could see the relief wash over her, like a smoker taking a long-overdue drag from a cigarette. Yes, we were in deep.

The months dragged on, and Boopsie transitioned to a big girl bed (well!) and started preschool (well!) and in October we realized we could literally see her front teeth starting to “buck” out a little. Ruh-roh. It was time to get serious. I over-thought the whole thing (as usual), plotting what “gifts” the Pacifier Fairy could bring and the deciding which weekends were possible targets for a visit. Finally, on the way back from a family trip to visit family and friends in Chicago, we asked Boopsie if she wanted the Pacifier Fairy to come and she said, “Yes.”

Yes? Really? Yes.

Gulp. We picked Friday, just a few days away and I upped my activity around frantic research on the interwebs. I looked up tips and tricks and things to say and e-mailed them to Daddy-o. We both committed to stay the course. I cleared our weekend schedule, shopped, and “discovered” a note from the Pacifier Fairy in the mail box Thursday morning that let Boopsie know she’d be coming the next night…cue the dread.

The dread was not Boopsie’s. It was mine. I couldn’t stop worrying. What if she wailed for hours straight? What if she started waking up at 5:30 a.m. again (that was a brief and crappy period this autumn)? What if she stopped sleeping through the night? Or napping? What if this was a huge mistake? My stress mounted.

To be continued…

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Things She Cried From the Crib

Boopsie spent the most of the day with Grammie and Grampie, after they rescued us from a “President’s Day, which no one but schools, municipal employees and day care providers get off” crisis. And apparently she had just a little too much fun, because tonight’s bedtime stalling was epic. To be clear, I’m pretty sure on the inside, she felt like this:

Toddler sleeping in car seat

This is how tired she FELT.

But what she said, as she was being put to bed (and after) was quite different. Here are the things she said:

“Elmo need to go potty!” (Okay. Elmo taken into the bathroom to go potty. Her? Not so interested.)

“Puppy need to go potty!” (Hmm… no.)

“I need a snack.” (Crying pitifully. Daddy-o and I puzzled over what to do for a couple of minutes… was she actually hungry? Then she transitioned to…)

“I need to color.” (Err… no. And no snack.)

“I pooped!” (She didn’t.)

“Change my diaper!” (No. This is an ironic request given how she treats 9 out of every 10 diaper changes as sheer torture.)

“NOT THOSE BOOKS!” (She gets to take two books to bed. She was hysterical, unwilling to accept several pairs and then unable to pick two of four offered. I left all four in there. None of the four were “correct,” apparently.)

“I NEED A KLEENEX!) (*Over and over, wailing as though the world was ending. Almost as suspicious as the diaper change request, but funnier, by far.)

“I want to sleep with you!” (No, sorry. I want to wake up with all my teeth. And still love you in the morning.)

“I need Dora Rocks! I need Dora Rocks!” (A book previously deemed unacceptable and thrown from the crib.)

“Cover me up!” (Apparently unable to reach the blankets bunched at her feet.)

“I want to see your jammies!” (Yes, I was wearing my jammies at 8 p.m. Judge away. She has never made this request before…)

“I need another blankie!” (Apparently four is not enough.)

After all of that, I think she fell asleep basically mid-cry. And she’s still sleeping. (Knock on wood! Quickly!) Let’s hope she stays that way until morning.

*The Kleenex request was my favorite. I wish I would have tape recorded it…

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Toddler Olympics

As the 2012 London Olympics are starting to wind down (at least I think they are), I want to share a couple of thoughts about the daily “Toddler Olympics.” People keep telling me I look skinny, and I keep telling them it’s because I have an almost-2-year-old. It’s non-stop boogie time. Anyway, I’d like to propose some official “Toddler Olympics” events:

For parents:

  1. The too-close-to-the-street sprint – Faux toddlers (like those rabbits dogs at a racetrack chase) are set off close to a traffic hazard. Because they don’t respond to a scream of “STOP!” (just like real toddlers) the parent competitors must sprint from a location of at least 50 feet away. Regulation footwear is flip flops.
  2. Sleep deprivation contest: Do I even need to describe this? Parents complete logic and everyday tasks on little sleep. Points are given for speed and accuracy. Good luck with the stuck zipper! (hint: don’t use the sewing shears)
  3. Speed laundry-folding: No seriously, fold faster. (See below, #1)

For the tots:

  1. Mess-it-up: This is a judged event, like gymnastics. Each competitor is given 45 seconds alone in a wonderfully neat bedroom. After 45 seconds judges enter and award points for creating chaos and destruction. Bonus points are given for unfolding clothes and torn book pages.
  2. Phone-orientation: Head-to-head competition. Parents hide cell phones “out of reach” (HA!) and see which tot can find the phone fastest. Variation: Winner is first to unlock said phone and place a call (bonus points for calls to China, India or any country on the African continent).
  3. Bed-time stalling: Pure time… whine until the read another book. Winner stays up longest. This is technically a team event as it’s an immediate DQ if the parent dozes off first.

What do you think? What other events belong in the Toddler Olympics?

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Oh dear. I did.

Tonight I took Boopsie over to a friend’s house for a happy hour. This friend lives about 10 minutes away. Boopsie fell asleep in five. On the way, I had to stop to pick up a few snacks to bring to the happy hour. So there I was in the fancy “market” parking lot, faced with a conundrum.

The choices:

  1. Wake her up and bring her into the market for a less than five-minute, four-item run.
  2. Find a stranger to watch over my car.

And what do you think I did?

I asked a stranger to watch over my car.

Now, before you call the police (Mom! Dad! Put down the phone!), let me explain what I did to make this not quite as crazy as this sounds. I locked my car. I asked the person parked next to me. It was a guy who had a car seat in his car. I RAN through the store. Under four minutes, I swear.

And you know what? Even though I took all sorts of rational, careful steps to keep her safe (and sleeping), it makes me feel a little sick. I can’t believe I did that.

In other news, I figured out why Boopsie fell asleep in her seat in less than five minutes… when we got home, I realized she had a fever of 101.4.

If I didn’t lose Mother of the Year in January, it’s definitely gone now.

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Classic Moments in Parenting: The Wake-Up

I rolled over, looked at the clock this morning and noticed it was 7:37 a.m.

I started whacking a sleeping Daddy-o.

Me: “Daddy-o! Daddy-o! It’s after 7:30 and she hasn’t made a sound!” (I was thinking, What’s wrong with her? Is she alive?)

Daddy-o: “She woke up at 6 a.m. and had a bottle.”

Me: “Oh. Okay, sorry. You can go back to sleep now.”

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