Sleep Training a … Toddler?

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So, when do I start banging my head? Yes, the title is correct. I am sleeping training a toddler. It may not even be called “sleep training” at this point. Most likely, it’s called “lazy parenting.”

Bad parenting?

… Mom whose child prefers her bed over his, because she allows it parenting?

Back in those stress-free, sleep-filled days known as the pre-child era, I staunchly advocated against the idea of co-sleeping. I mean, babies get smothered sleeping that way. There’s even a theory that once the child sleeps in the parent’s bed, they will never leave.

Well, somehow I managed not to smother Tiny Tot. We co-slept straight past that catastrophic theory. The other theory is, unfortunately, ringing true. My tiny human has absolutely no desire to leave my bed. The whole process of getting him to sleep in his own bed, to help enable his independence and allow me to sleep in more than a five inch space on my King-sized bed, is exhausting.

Back in the day I read several articles about co-sleeping. They were actually very interesting reads. One such article maintained that through the centuries, mothers have adapted their sleeping position when the child is in the bed with them. I vividly remember that article, because as I read it, a three month-old Tiny Tot lay curled in my arms. Each point the article made had me noticing that I, too, had adapted my sleeping style in such a way that it both nestled, and protected, my tiny human.

Sold!

In another article, I read that children inherently learn to sleep in their own beds, in their own time, because as humans we grow to become more and more independent. I fully believed in the truth of that article. However, Tiny is becoming more and more independent–not to mention mouthy–every day. So, come on kid, get out of my bed!

Even from miles away, I can hear my mother reading this blog while muttering, “He’s not getting out because you don’t want him out.”

Okay, well, there’s truth in that statement, too. I love my little cuddle bug. As he grows more independent–and mouthy, did I say that yet?–I, as the mommy, want just as many hugs, cuddles, and kisses. Slowly, those precious moments are going away. Except at night, when my tiny little human wants to snuggle in close for a book, for prayers, and for sleep. So, when he says, “Mommy, can I sleep with you?” my heart breaks to tell him no.

To sleep train him, though, I need to be firm.

Ugh.

Can I say that again? Ugh.

Be firm I must, though, so I devised a sleep training plan. Busting out the poster board, markers, and stickers, I sat myself down, and created a chart. Basically, the chart is a bribe. I’m bribing my kid to sleep in his bed by promising him treats. When he reaches a certain square on the chart, one with a huge bubbled outline, he gets to choose a treat. Once he slept for a week in his bed, he received a Megaforce Power Ranger gadget. Now, he’s trying for a Megaforce Power Ranger phone. I swear, my kid lives for the chance to receive a toy.

And candy.

… Mostly the candy, sometimes the toy.

Every night we go through the same routine. Eat dinner, take baths, get ready for bed, play for a few minutes, and then head toward the bedroom. His bedroom. Except, usually his little toddling bum veers off toward my room, and I have to turn him around and bring him to his bed. We read a few books, say our prayers, sing some songs, and then he starts wheedling, “Mommy, can you stay with me?”

He makes his point clear by throwing an arm across my torso, and clutching tightly onto my hand. Okay, okay, I get it. Fine.

I’ll stay.

Until my tiny angel falls asleep, at least. So, for a while I stay in his room, watching a stuffed toy dog throw stars across the ceiling. Then, when he’s snoring away, I leave his room, finish what I need to do for the night–like watch a television show that doesn’t have a dancing monkey, or singing backpack–and head to bed.

Of course, I peep in on my sleeping angel from time to time, all tucked into his big boy bed, until I eventually fall asleep. Can anyone see where I’m going with this? Has the punchline entered the scene? I fall asleep in my own bed. Tiny Tot falls asleep in his own bed.

And every morning, I wake up to a cuddle bug snoring away right beside me.

Hopefully one day soon, he will sleep the night away in his own bed. From past history, I can’t say when that will happen. Even when I valiantly Ferbered my tiny human to sleep, he religiously woke up in his crib anywhere from three to five in the morning. I cannot even remember a time when this child has slept completely through the night away from me. Yes, I know, I enable him.

What can I say? I’m not super mom.

The next step, I am realizing, is to bring him back to his room in the wee hours of the morning. It’s the moment where hardcore sleep training mommies meet up with me, the hates being woken up before she has to mommy. Also known as Lazy Mom. And Tired Mom.

Or, tired, stressed, single mom, who’s burning the candle at both ends, and can’t seem to make ends meet at the moment mom. Ugh.

Why am I sleep training Tiny Tot again?

I know that for a while, until we get this whole sleep thing down, I am going to be the only person in our household that is exhausted. Once it becomes a firm routine, Tiny will be happier, Tiny’s mommy will be happier, and life will carry on.

Well, Tiny is happy now. He doesn’t know that waking up and sneaking into my bed defeats the entire purpose of falling asleep in his own room. To quote my beautiful baby boy, “Mommy, I did good! I sleep in my bed all night! I get Megamo Power Rangers phone!! Look, the sun is up! See, Mommy?”

Now, what Mommy in her right mind would pop that little bubble of enthusiasm by reminding him that “all night” means he falls asleep at night, and wakes up when the sun has actually come up, still in his own bed?

Not me, that’s for sure.

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No comments posted on April 17, 2013 in Discipline, Winging It, Mom Style

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