Let’s face it, parenting preschoolers is mostly about sleep – naps, nightmares, bedtime stories, dummies, night wakings and crack-of-dawn risings… the list of potential parenting hurdles goes on when it comes to sleep. And how much or little of it your kids have directly impacts everyone’s day, week, month or even year.
So, today, I’m going to share with you one small sleep achievement I recently had. Who knows, maybe it will help someone else. They say you can’t reason with a two-year-old, but I beg to differ!
Our situation was this: for some unknown reason (they’re always unknown reasons), Miss 2 suddenly decided that she was absolutely NOT going to sleep unless she was in a python-like squeeze in my arms. MY arms, and definitely NOT her daddy’s. Preferably the squeeze should take place in ‘Mummy’s bed’, but if that option was rejected, then the armchair would do.
Of course, getting her to sleep this way, and then easing her carefully into her cot without her waking was an extremely time-consuming, and almost impossible, task. We tried all sorts of things: holding her hand until she fell asleep (she woke as soon as I moved), toughing out the crying (I was never any good at that), and gradually moving further and further away from her bed (about 15 centimetres caused distress). The result of each of these tactics was absolute meltdown, and we feared she would make herself sick.
After several nights of this, I tried something completely new, so sure that it was not going to work that I almost didn’t bother. But what was there to lose?
As Miss 2 stood up behind the bars of her cot, crying and demanding yet another hug, I said calmly to her, ‘Miss 2, do you know that Mummy and Daddy love you very much?’ She went still and quiet, thinking about this. ‘Yes…love Mummy Daddy,’ was her reply.
‘Well, because we all love each other, we know that there will always be lots more hugs tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. Will you be able to give me lots of hugs tomorrow?’
‘That’s good. We can’t have hugs ALL the time because night time is for sleeping. How about we have one last big hug and then we’ll go to bed?’
She held up her arms and I sat with her for, maybe two minutes in the armchair. Bracing for more tears, I said quietly, ‘Ok, that was a really nice hug. Let’s go to bed now and have more hugs tomorrow.’
There was no fuss. I couldn’t believe it. She allowed me to place her back into her cot, pat her head and leave the room. And that was it for the rest of the night. This happened about a week ago, and we haven’t had a problem since.
I think sometimes we underestimate our little ones – well, I know I do.
Who says you can’t reason with a toddler!?