Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. The bane of our parenting.
L has defied every sleep training method and every time we think we turn a corner there is a new one awaiting us. I didn’t actually expect anything to be different here. We had a somewhat established routine before the move, at least we knew that most nights we would put her down and she would sneak out of bed and pile up all of her books and recite them from memory in the dark (unless, of course I forgot to unplug the lamp, in which cases we would see a glow emerge from under her door). Other nights she would scream and yell and cry, but we learned when to leave it and when to settle her down.
During our stay in Egypt, everything went downhill and with all the change, the cry it out battle that would have inevitably lasted hours didn’t seem worth it, especially in the midst of so much grief with the loss of Gido (oh, how it pained him to hear her cry). In moments like those you realize that these years are fleeting and rather than fighting L until I am blue in the face, cuddling her to sleep seemed well worth it. This was especially true given that she was going to bed at midnight and I really didn’t want to stay up any later. I was still able sneak in some alone time in the mornings before she woke up. Back in Nebraska though, I had no desire to crawl into bed at 8:30 p.m. so it was a relief that when we got to Grandma and Grandpa’s she managed to go to bed by herself with only some relatively minor (for her) protests.
Since we got to Rio, we have worked hard to make sure that L’s room was the most set up from the time she arrived. S got the bed up and most of her toys out. I rearranged things and we decorated it together. In all honesty her room is great. It is the biggest in the house and has a little alcove with a kitchen, cars, and dolls. The problem with her room is that our apartment is on the second floor above a busy street and her window catches all of the traffic accelerating up the hill. (Note: There is definitely a market here for affordable mufflers) It is loud and even the “white noise” of the window AC unit doesn’t do much to drown it out.
So between the traffic and the novelty of it all, and the fact that L just plain hates sleeping, it hasn’t been easy. However, we aren’t facing the crying, screaming protest from before. Nope, this kid has grown up and gotten quite savvy over the past couple of months. She understands what it is to be sneaky. We put her to bed, the whole routine . . . shower (no baths in the apt), snack, brush teeth, hugs and kisses to everyone with a mandatory “I want you to smell my breath . . haaahhhh”, five books (which translates to a pile of twenty five), one “once upon a time story” about L and her imaginary friend Kencha, a squeeze hug, a nice hug, and five kisses, followed by L listening to music. But now instead of her screaming her head off when we leave, it is quiet. She reads, and then . . . she opens the door and sneaks out to see if we are in bed.
The other night, after sending L back to bed twice it was finally quite so S and I settled in for a movie. Two hours later, S went to go brush his teeth and found L’s door wide open and her nowhere to be found. He looked in our room and there she was, snuggled up in the middle of our bed fast asleep. The next night I woke up and she was in my bed, in my arms fast asleep. Last night I felt her get into bed. S had told her if she slept by herself we could go to the beach with him in the evening when he went to play volleyball. I reminded her of it as she climbed into bed and she said, “I cannot go to the beach then.” I didn’t have the energy to throw her back to bed and listen to her scream.
So tonight I got to stay home with her while S went out. It is clear from now on we have to talk about what the rewards/consequences are and will be. Tonight I felt punished for her not sleeping in her own bed. But these incentives come out in the moment and you find yourself, without thinking, offering/threatening something . . . anything to just get her to bed. In Egypt, I backed myself into a corner telling her that she couldn’t go to the park if she didn’t sleep by herself. She opted for a month of sleeping with me rather than going to the park. Of course that was not at all what I wanted. Heck, I needed her to go to the park! So how do we keep ourselves from doing that here?
Perhaps L has the upper hand already. But I swear to you that mandates do not work with this child. In her stubbornness she can make anyone cave. I fear the only thing that will make this child stay in her own bed is the threat of no cookies or ice cream, but I hate pulling the food card, making it into a reward/punishment. I want my daughter to have a healthy relationship with food. Perhaps I am over thinking it.
So tonight we will see what happens. L wants a new pet. I pulled out the sticker chart and told her if she goes one week sleeping like a big girl, alone in her bed, she will have shown us that she is indeed grown up enough for a fish.