I’ve written about how bedtime routine was shot to hell once we got bunk beds for the girls, but at that point, Harlow was at least staying in her bed, even if she wasn’t sleeping.
About two weeks ago, Harlow realized there was absolutely nothing stopping her from getting out of bed and it’s been nearly impossible to get her to stay there ever since. I’ve read that if your toddler gets out of bed, you just carry her back and quickly leave the room, doing that as many times as needed before she stays put.
I don’t think the person who came up with that plan ever dealt with Harlow. Actually, I know that for a fact, because I’ve never noticed some random parenting expert hanging out in my two bedroom apartment.
Harlow will get out of bed 100 times in a row. The second I put her down, she gets up again, practically following me back out the door. She pops up in the kitchen. She pokes her head in the bathroom. She’s suddenly standing next to our bed. She sidles up to the couch and asks what we are watching in the living room. SHE IS RELENTLESS. Like a horror movie come to life. “IT’S COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!!”
The only way Harlow stops getting out of bed is if I lie down beside her.
“DON’T DO IT!!!!” you are thinking. “THAT’S THE BEGINNING OF THE END!!!!”
I know, I know, but I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t want to lock the girls in a dark room with bunk beds. And there isn’t room to resurrect the crib. Threats of any kind (turning out the hall light, not letting her watch TV in the morning, etc.) don’t seem to get through to her at night.
For the record, I put the girls to bed at 7:30pm, the same time I’ve always put them to bed, even when everything was working just fine, so I don’t think I am missing any sort of window. Mazzy falls asleep by about 8:30pm, but Harlow stays up way leter.
Last night, Harlow didn’t fall asleep until 11pm, when I finally gave in and laid down next to her. After transferring her back to her bed about 50 times.
Now you want to tell me a story about a mom friend you know who started sleeping in her toddler’s bed and was never able to stop. “How old is the kid now?” I’ll ask. “HE’S NINE!” you’ll say, like my co-dependent future has already been determined. Harlow won’t be able to leave for college, unless she packs me in her suitcase. (Which actually doesn’t sound so bad.)
Once in bed with Harlow, I have tried all different things to get her to go to sleep. I have tried ignoring her, I have tried giving her my full attention, I have tried cuddling with her, I have tried sleeping opposite to her with my feet at her head, I’ve tried telling her stories, I’ve tried singing lullabies, I’ve tried making up relaxation techniques and speaking to her like I am leading a meditation class— none of it matters. I usually stay there a good hour before she goes down.
“You are not consistent!” you say. “You are giving her a reason to want you in the room!”
I know, I know, but I don’t know how to be consistent unless I have a foolproof strategy in place. WHO HAS A STRATEGY FOR ME???
When I lie down with my feet to her head and ignore her, Harlow just flips her body, crawls up to me, props herself up so her face hovers over mine and STARES AT ME. It is perhaps the most intense eye contact I have ever experienced. It would be kind of creepy if she wasn’t so freaking adorable. Sometimes, when we are lying facing each other, she will cup her little hand under my chin, like a tiny gesture of intimacy. HOW CAN I IGNORE THAT????? It’s the cutest ever.
Last night, I went to an event straight from work and it was Mike’s job to put the girls to sleep. I came home at 8:30pm. Mike accosted me the second I opened the front door, yell whispering with urgency.
“BE QUIET. HARLOW IS NOT SLEEPING BUT SHE IS STAYING IN BED. I DON’T WANT HER TO KNOW YOU ARE HERE.”
“OKAY,” I yell whispered back.
We went into the living room since I didn’t dare pass the girls’ room on the way into our bedroom.
“MOMMMMMMMYYYYY!!!!!!” Harlow screamed.
“She’s not here, Harlow.” That was Mazzy. She’ll often try to quiet her loittle sister so she can get some sleep.
“MOMMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!!!!” Harlow was persistent.
“You need to go to sleep, Harlow. If you stay up all night, you’ll be cranky in the morning.”
Oh, to hear your lessons echoed back from your eldest trying to teach your youngest. It’s the best feeling in the world. Unfortunately, Harlow is not a very good student.
Mike and I heard rustling and then little feet jumping out of bed and coming closer.
“DUCK!” Mike yell whispered.
I quickly tried to blend into the carpet on the floor, lying flat behind the chaise part of our couch.
“When is Mommy coming home?” Harlow asked.
“Late, Harlow. You’ll see her in the morning,” Mike answered.
I heard little feet padding back to her room and getting back into bed. I popped my head back up and gave Mike a sad puppy dog face.
“DON’T YOU DARE GO IN THERE,” Mike yell whispered.
I did not. And Harlow didn’t come back out or yell my name anymore and after a little time had passed, it seemed clear she had drifted off to sleep all on her own.
I think the lesson here is a need to put Harlow to bed and then leave the apartment for a few hours.
Anyone around for post-bedtime drinks?