Have you ever been in a deep sleep in the middle of the night and then suddenly awakened with a tap, tap, tap on your forehead? You gasp when you see your little gremlin, AKA your child, staring at you in the dark. You check your clock and it’s 4 am. You grumble and try talking sense into your little one, but remember, it is 4 am and there is no talking sense into a child that late at night (or early in the morning, depending on how you look at it). So you have a decision to make. Do you walk them back to their bed where they will likely start sobbing, potentially waking up the rest of the house? Or do you just give in and let them sleep with you? That decision has plagued my nights lately.
Looking back on the last year, my husband and I bragged way too much about how well our son slept in his big boy bed. For a long time, he didn’t get out of his bed on his own and venture around the house at night. But now, karma has smacked us in the face in the form of night wake-ups, and they are wearing us down.
I don’t even know when it started happening, I’m too sleep-deprived, but it all started when one of us read him a bedtime story about Captain Hook’s shadow. Curse that story, and curse you, Captain Hook. He would come in crying, saying Hook’s shadow was trying to get him. And do you know what I did? The biggest mistake in all of this, I let him sleep in our bed. Multiple times. Now I’m kicking myself as I wake up to the pitter-patter of little feet running to my side of the bed, and I know he just uses Captain Hook as an excuse now. He knows exactly what he’s doing with those puppy dog eyes.
Stoplight Alarm Clock = Fail
Our timing with using this product was probably a few months too late, but we were desperate to try anything to keep our son in his room, so we got the stoplight alarm clock. I had high expectations for this, because usually when we make something a game, our son plays it with excitement. At first, he was very pumped up to use his new alarm clock. We practiced during quiet time and he did great. But the alarm clock has only worked one time at night. Just once. We are still going to use it, hoping it will eventually work. But it is probably too little, too late.
Walking Back to Bed = Fail
After a few nights of letting our son sleep in the bed, I had had enough. No judgment at all to co-sleeping parents, but it is just not for us. My son’s constant squirming and whispering throughout the night turned me into a zombie. There wasn’t enough coffee in the world for how tired I was. We attempted the walk back method, alternating each night so the other spouse could sleep, but it did not go well at all. My husband could handle it, because the man can fall asleep at any time, in any position. So when my son would cry and ask that daddy stays in his room, my husband was fine with it. I, on the other hand, am terrible at falling asleep. So when my son would ask me to stay in his room, I adamantly said no because ain’t nobody got time for that. The sobbing would continue which would lead to bickering. At one point, I threatened to lock his bedroom door which made me feel like mom of the year. Another time, I remember straight-up pleading with my son, while crying, “I just want to sleep, buddy. Please, please just let mommy sleep.”
The Sleeping Bag Method / Sleep Reward Chart = TBD
This is the stage we are at now, after getting advice from a friend and my mom on how they handled this situation. It started very strictly but we have since been slowly lowering our expectations and the rules. He’s not allowed to sleep in our bed, he’s just too squirmy, but he can sleep on the floor. My mom told me when my little sister would do the same thing, come into the room and creepily stare at my mom in the dark, she finally let her keep a sleeping bag on the floor to sleep in. So we are doing the same – as long as he brings the pillow and blanket in on his own without waking anybody up, he’ll always have a place on the floor. At least, until he finally realizes his mattress is more comfortable than the floor and Captain Hook doesn’t exist. To add to this, I took a friend’s advice and am doing a sleep reward chart. If he doesn’t wake anyone up, he gets a sticker on the chart to earn rewards. Again, probably something we should have started doing months ago.
Please cross your fingers for us that this works, and if you have any tips that worked for you, please leave a comment below. We will try anything! We just want to sleep. Is that too much to ask?!