Bedtime in my house has been a struggle since my youngest was born. She doesn’t sleep more than a few hours without waking and crawling into our bed. My husband places her back in her bed once her sleep deepens and before you know it, she’s back. I have been weaning for 6 months now. I can’t shake those nap time and bedtime nursing sessions. Mostly because we are exhausted and when I say exhausted, I mean severely sleep deprived for the last 2 plus years. I know there are tricks, I know there are methods, and I know because I am a veteran Mom. We cried it out old-school style. I was no woose. This toddler and this time, in my mid-forties, has defeated me.
This doesn’t mean I am not going to attempt to slowly claw my way back to my breasts being all mine again, or keep turning her out of our bed, or enforce a stricter bedtime. It just means it is taking longer than I was prepared to take. I am nostalgic for all my kids and since she is definitely my last perhaps that makes it different. So maybe those squishies seem all the more fleeting, maybe her intense need for me seems all the more precious, maybe I know before we know it she will be walking into Kindergarten, wailing or barely acknowledging us (who knows), and I will wish for the tender days of her babyhood.
However, I know that as we approach the big 2.5, we need to knock it off. Get serious. Enforce those bedtime rules. Start her on the potty. Give her a tighter schedule that will tire her out predictably. Until then, I suppose I will treasure these last days and cringe a few more times as she nurses, which is where we are at – habit, needs being met, and Mommy sorely wishing to be removed from the comfort equation at that level. That she will be able to fall asleep without it. Because I really, really want my body back and want to sleep at night. Sometimes it is hard not to cry (sometimes I even do that) because of what the lack of freedom nursing in the toddler years means and how much I just need it to stop. Of course, I feel sad that this special bond and huge comfort will be ending, but it is time. To each their own, but for me it is time.
So, first I am trying to establish a stronger toddler bedtime routine.
- Bath time – with Lavender bubble bath which is calming, this is the one we use from Totlogic, it is all natural, sulfate-free lavender bubble bath made for toddlers.
- Pajamas – fresh diaper – brush teeth
- Quiet play – wood blocks, play dough, Lego Duplo, dinosaur figures anything that we can play together quietly.
- Bedtime basket – she gets to choose one thing from this basket – which includes a lacing set, some laminated printed cards I made, a small IKEA bear that she loves, a flashlight that she also loves, a magnetic space game from Target, and this wonderful Bunny Bedtime Time for Two that she most often picks. It goes through the bedtime steps of the bunny and it teaches her to take turns, make choices, and follow instructions.
- Ask Alexa to play Mozart or City Sounds (ambient sounds) if she still seems very restless.
- Bedtime books. I usually limit these to 2 or 3. (See below for a list of some of our all time favorites.)
- Nursing. Soon to turn to snuggles and some warm milk.
- Bedtime – Actual Sleeping – at a decent hour. That Mommy can have an hour to herself and actually go to sleep.
I don’t know how this will turn out and frankly, I am too damn tired for all these steps. All I can do is keep trying.