For awhile, Ellie actually went to sleep pretty easily. But after our trip to Japan to visit Aya’s parents last year, our system fell apart. I tried re-aligning her sleep methods shortly after our return, but in the end, I had failed miserably. Since then, we’ve just accepted the situation. Between Ellie’s ups and downs during the day, and Aya’s pregnant hormonal ups and downs during the night, sitting quietly in Ellie’s room for an hour until she fell asleep seemed much easier than fighting the battle.
But the time to make a change has come. And that time is now.
On the day the re-alignment was to begin, I started pumping up Ellie after breakfast. “Ellie, you’re a big girl now, right!?”
“No!” was her response.
I wasn’t expecting that. “Well, are you a baby then?” I asked.
“No, I’m a big sister bear,” she said confidently.
“Yes, you are, and big sister bears go to bed by themselves. You’re going to be a good big sister bear and go to bed by yourself tonight,” I said.
By the time bedtime came around she had heard the words, “Big sister bear,” “bedtime,” and “by yourself” about a thousand times. This was not new information to her anymore. Part of the constant repetition was to pump myself up too though. I was not looking forward to this. I could just picture it. Her begging me to stay with her bottom lip quivering and her eyes watering. And if I resisted her desperate pleas to stay in the room, then it’d be her wailing while banging on the door. “DADDY!!! WAAAA!!! DON’T GOOO!!!”
But I had psyched myself up with some daily affirmations. “You’re in charge. She’s only two. She can’t really hurt you (I don’t think).”
As I finished the last page of her bedtime book, I tucked her in, said good night, and walked out of her room.
When I closed the door I was expecting some sort of protest. Except there was none. She just said, “Good night daddy.”
Wait, what? I had made it out? How could this be?!
Weary of the situation, I camped out on the floor in the hallway waiting for her to make a silent escape and roam the upstairs. Which she did twice, but quickly went back in her bed without much protest. Other than that, she stayed in her room, in her bed, and fell asleep by herself. There were no tears, no crying, no banging on the door, and no freak outs. It almost seemed too good to be true. I had successfully completed day one of the sleep realignment thus far. But would it last?
Well, it’s been over a week so far and she continues to fall asleep in her room on her own. And not only does she fall asleep early, but she falls asleep quickly! I did it! She did it!
So like I said, this was all part of my plan. I totally knew what I was doing this whole time.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Now what should I do with all this extra time I have in the evening? Oh wait, we have a two month old now. Nevermind…
To read more stories from this stay-at-home dad, visit www.thegoodthedadandthebaby.com