We switched Mazzy to a "big girl bed" about two weeks ago. It was not something I wanted to do— Mazzy slept perfectly well in her crib and never once attempted to get out— but I was told we had to transition her before the baby arrived or else she would harbor negative feelings against her little sister for stealing her stuff.
Since I didn't want to worry about Mazzy smothering her soon-to-be roommate while she slept, we bought a toddler bed on Craig's List, told Mazzy she was a big girl now, and crossed our fingers.
The first few days went swimmingly. Mazzy went to sleep just like she normally did and did not seem to notice the unlimited freedom that her new bed provided.
Then, on the third night— EVERYTHING WENT TO SHIT.
And when I say "everything went to shit", I mean— ANY ILLUSIONS OF CONTROL WE PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT WE HAD OVER OUR TODDLER HAVE NOW DISAPPEARED COMPLETELY.
As of this moment, I am typing while also terrified that Mazzy will suddenly appear at my side like the Ghost of Christmas Past asking me to tell her a story, get her some water, turn the light on, sing her a song, make her a sandwich, go to the playground, take her to the moon, find her a dayjob, explain the theory of relativity or any one of the myriad of requests she has made in the past 11 days.
When Mazzy was in her crib, the roles were clear. We put her down and she couldn't get out, so she had no choice but to lay there and go to sleep. We had a routine. Three books, two songs, one kiss and then she was put in the crib and I left the room. Even if she protested, I didn't go back— I was hardcore. Lights out, no toys in the crib. We never heard a peep once we shut the door. It was a wonderfully magical thing that actually fooled me into thinking that Mazzy was a GOOD SLEEPER.
Nope. Not the case. I have now come to understand that Mazzy was just trapped and defeated.
On DAY THREE, at about 9:30pm, as Mike and I watched a movie on the couch, suddenly a tiny figure appeared before us.
"I'm not tired."
"It's late, Mazzy. You have to try to go to sleep."
"Come lie with me, Mommy."
Interesting. I'd never done that before, as lying down next to your child is not possible when they are in a crib. I must admit, it sounded kind of nice.
Unfortunately, as soon as I lay my head down and bent my legs all the way up to my pregnant belly to fit inside the tiny bed frame, I realized I had made an error in judgement. Mazzy did not want to lie down and fall asleep next to eachother. Mazzy wanted entertainment.
"Tell me a story, Mommy."
Huh? What about?
"The dog who wants a bone."
"Ummm…okay. Once upon a time there was a dog who wanted a bone…" I continued on with some half-assed story about a dog who knocked on all the houses in the neighborhood but none of them wanted to give him a bone. So he went to the pet store which had a wide selection of bones, but he had no money so he had to leave and go home. He was so sad until he got home and his owner surprised him with a bone. Moral of the story: sometimes the things you search for far and wide, are at home all along.
I was pretty proud of my impromptu tale and was ready to get up when…
"The duck who wanted to swim."
What? Where was she getting these from? I made up something about a duck who didn't know how to swim so finally he got floaties which impressed all of his duck friends so much that they all wanted floaties too. When I was finished, I said, "Okay, babe, it's time to—"
"The cat who wanted milk."
"No more stories, sweetie— you have to go to sleep."
"Sing me a song."
And so it began.
Any attempts at leaving have been met with Mazzy jumping out of bed and running after me out of the room. Mike is currently campaigning for shutting the door entirely and letting her fend for herself in the dark. But I refuse to shut the door until he anchors the bookshelf to the wall (which will happen on a cold day in hell).
As a result, we now have to service our new bedtime princess with anything her little heart desires. ANYTHING, to keep her in that goddamn bed. We have gotten her a nightlight and agreed to keep the hall light on (after a 3am demonstration that showed how easily she can get up and turn the light on herself), we have gotten her one of those alarm clocks that glows green when it is time to get up in the morning, we have experimented with and without bedding (she prefers to be both blanketless and pillowless), we let her take a huge stack of books to bed which she "reads" in the dark and then discards unceremoniously over the side, we refill three separate sippy cups full of water, and I have now told the dog and duck stories a few thousand times (they don't get better with repeated tellings).
I estimate that Mazzy doesn't fall asleep until a good two hours after we first put her down.
Why such a pessimistic outlook? Because, each time Mazzy appears in the living room announcing "I'm not tired", I am reminded of someone else.
When I was a kid, every night I would lie wide awake in my bed until I thought a sufficient enough time had passed to safely declare that I couldn't fall asleep. Then, I would take my pajama-clad self downstairs, stealthily appear in the doorway to the den and announce to my TV-watching parents, "I'm not tired."
If I was lucky, my mother would accompany me back upstairs, crawl into bed next to me and tell me a story.
When she was done, I would ask for another.
And another and another and another, until one of us (usually her) fell asleep.
Have you transitioned to a big girl/boy bed yet? How long did it take for your kid to figure out that nothing was keeping them there? How did you handle it?